John Webster Poems

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John Webster
John Webster (c. 1580 c. 1634) was an English Jacobean dramatist, a late contemporary of William Shakespeare. His tragedies The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi are often regarded as masterpieces of the early 17th-century English stage. Webster's life is obscure, and the dates of his birth and death are not known. His father, a coachmaker also named John Webster, married a blacksmith's daughter named Elizabeth Coates on November 4, 1577, and it is likely that Webster was born not long after in or near London. On August 1, 1598, "John Webster, lately of the New Inn" was admitted to the Middle Temple, one of the Inns of Court; in view of the legal interests evident in his dramatic work, this is probably him. Webster married a 17-year-old girl named Sara Peniall on March 18, 1606, and their first child, John, was baptized at the parish of St Dunstan-in-the-West on May 8, 1606. Bequests in the will of a neighbor who died in 1617 indicate that other children were born to him. Most of what is otherwise known of him relates to his theatrical activities. Webster was still writing plays as late as the mid-1620s, but Thomas Heywood's Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels (licensed November 7, 1634) speaks of him in the past tense, implying he was then dead.

Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
"This is my o... [read poem]
the truth of woman
Woman's faith, and woman's trust -
Write the characters in the dust;
Stamp them on the run... [read poem]
call for the robin-redbreast and the wren
Call for the robin-redbreast and the wren,
Since o'er shady groves they hover
And with lea... [read poem]
(A Tale of Flodden Field)

I. (Canto First 1-13)

Day set on Norham's castled ... [read poem]
proud maisie
Proud Maisie is in the wood,
Walking so early;
Sweet Robin sits on the bush,
Singin... [read poem]
vanitas vanitatum
All the flowers of the spring
Meet to perfume our burying;
These have but their growing pr... [read poem]
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