I have found in this poem from the early 1600s a statement of a large part of my purpose as an artist, and have quoted six lines from it in artist's statements. Since the full text of it does not appear to be available online, or even found easily in print, I am reproducing it here. This text is copied from the 1934 edition of The Oxford Book of Seventeenth Century Verse, in which some modernizing alterations were made to the text from when it was first published. This poem is not included in the more recent edition of this volume. Both volumes do contain other poems by George Wither.
Philarete Praises Poetry
by George Wither
See'st thou not in clearest dayes,
Oft thicke fogs cloud Heav'ns rayes,
And that vapors which doe breathe
From the earths grosse wombe beneath
Seeme not to us with black steames,
To pollute the Sunnes bright beames,
And yet vanish into ayre,
Leavingt it (unblemisht) faire?
So (my Willy) shall it bee
With Detractions breath on thee.
It shall never rise so hie,
As to staine thy Poesie.
As that Sunne doth oft exhale
Vapors from each rotten Vale:
Poesie so sometimes draines,
Grosse conceits from muddy braines;
Mists of envy, fogs of spight,
Twixt mens judgments and her light:
But so much her power may do
That she can dissolve them too.
If thy verse doe bravely tower,
As she makes wing, she gets power:
Yet the higher she doth soare,
She's affronted still the more:
Till shee to the high'st hath past,
Then she rests with Fame at last,
Let nought therefore, thee affright:
But make forward in they flight:
For if I could match thy Rime,
To the very Starres I'd climb.
There begins again, and flye,
Till I reach'd Æterity.
But (alasse) my Muse is slow:
For thy pace she flags too low:
Yea, the more's her hapless fate,
Her short wings were clipt of late.
And poore I, her fortune ruing
Am my selfe put up a mewing.
But if I my Cage can rid,
I'll flye where I never did.
And though for her sake I'm crost,
Though my best hopes I have lost,
And knew she would make my trouble
Ten times more than ten times double:
I should love and keepe her to,
Spight of all the world could do.
For though banish't from my flockes
And confin'd within these rockes,
Here I waste away the light,
And consume the sullen Night,
She doth for my comfort stay,
And keepes many cares away.
Though I misse the flowry Fields,
With those sweets the Spring-tide yeelds,
Though I may not see those Groves,
Where the Shepherds chant their Loves,
(And the Lasses more excell,
Than the sweet voic'd Philomel)
Though of all those pleasures past,
Nothing now remaines at last,
But Remembrance (poore reliefe)
That more makes, than mends my griefe:
Shee's my mindes companion still,
Maugre Envies evil will.
(Whence she should be driven too
Were't in mortals power to do.)
She doth tell me where to borrow
Comfort in the midst of sorrow;
Makes the desolatest place
To her presence be a grace;
And the blackest discontents
To be pleasing ornaments.
In my former dayes of blisse,
Her divine skill taught me this,
That from every thing I saw,
I could some invention draw:
And raise pleasure to her height,
Through the meanest objects sight.
By the murmur of a spring,
Or the least boughes rusteling.
By a Dazie whose leaves spread,
Shut when Titam goes to bed;
Or a shady bush or tree,
She could more infuse infuse in mee,
Then all Natures beauties can,
In some other wiser man.
By her helpe I also now,
Make this churlish place allow
Some things that may sweeten gladness,
In the very gall of sadness,
The dull loneness, the blacke shade,
That these hanging vaults have made,
The strange Musicke of the waves,
Beating on these hollow Caves,
This blacke Den which Rocks embosse
Over-growne with eldest Mosse.
The rude portals that give light,
More to Terror than Delight.
This my chamber of Neglect,
Wall'd about with Disrespect
From all these and this dull aire,
A fit object for Despaire,
She hath taught me by her might
To draw comfort and delight.
Therefore thou best earthly blisse,
I will cherish thee for this.
Poesie; thou sweetest content
That e'er Heav'n to mortal lent,
Though they as a trifle leave thee
Whose dull thought cannot conceive thee,
Though thou be to them a scorne,
That to nought but earth are borne:
Let my life no longer be
Than I am in love with thee.