Thomas Dekker Poems

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Thomas Dekker
Thomas Dekker (c. 1572 – August 25, 1632) was an Elizabethan dramatist and pamphleteer, a versatile and prolific writer whose career spanned several decades and brought him into contact with many of the period's most famous dramatists. Little is known of Dekker's early life or origins. From references in his pamphlets, Dekker is believed to have been born in London around 1572, but nothing is known for certain about his youth. His last name suggests Dutch ancestry, and his work, some of which is translated from Latin, suggests that he attended grammar school. Dekker embarked on a career as a theatre writer in the middle 1590s. His handwriting is found in the manuscript of Sir Thomas More, though the date of his involvement is undetermined. More certain is his work as a playwright for the Admiral's Men of Philip Henslowe, in whose account book he is first mentioned in early 1598. While there are plays connected with his name performed as early as 1594, it is not clear that he was the original author; his work often involved revision and updating. Between 1598 and 1602, he was involved in about forty plays for Henslowe, usually in collaboration. To these years belong the collaborations with Ben Jonson and John Marston which presumably contributed to the War of the Theatres in 1600 and 1601. Francis Meres includes Dekker in his list of notable playwrights in 1598. For Jonson, however, Dekker was bumbling hack, a "dresser of plays about town"; Jonson lampooned Dekker as Demetrius Fannius in Poetaster and as Anaides in Cynthia's Revels. Dekker's riposte, Satiromastix, performed both by the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the child actors of Paul's, casts Jonson as an affected, hypocritical Horace. Satiromastix marks the end of the "poetomachia"; in 1603, Jonson and Dekker collaborated again, on a pageant for the Royal Entry, delayed from the coronation of James I, for which Dekker also wrote the festival book The Magnificent Entertainment. After this commission, however, the early Jacobean period was notably mixed for the author. In late 1602, he appears to have broken his association with Henslowe, for unknown reasons. He wrote for Worcester's Men for a time, then returned to the Admiral's Men (now patronized by Prince Henry) to produce The Honest Whore, an apparent success. But the failures of The Whore of Babylon (1607) and If This Be Not a Good Play, the Devil is in It (1611) left him crestfallen; the latter play was rejected by Prince Henry's Men before failing for Queen Anne's Men at the Red Bull Theatre. In 1612, Dekker's lifelong problem with debt (he had earlier, 1599, been imprisoned in Poultry Compter) reached a crisis when he was imprisoned in the King's Bench Prison on a debt of forty pounds to the father of John Webster. He remained there for seven years, and despite the support of associates such as Edward Alleyn and Endymion Porter, these years were difficult; Dekker reports that the experience turned his hair white. He continued as pamphleteer throughout his years in prison. On release, he resumed writing plays, now with collaborators both from his generation (John Day and John Webster) and slightly younger writers (John Ford and Philip Massinger). Among these plays is one, Keep the Widow Waking (1624, with Ford, Webster, and William Rowley), dramatized two recent murders in Whitechapel. In the latter half of the decade, Dekker turned once more to pamphlet-writing, revamping old work and writing a new preface to his most popular tract, The Bellman of London. Dekker published no more work after 1632, and he is usually associated with the "Thomas Dekker, householder" who was buried at St. James's in Clerkenwell that year.

extended family
Yet like grandfather
I bathe before the village crow

the dry chlorine water
my ... [read poem]
art thou poor
Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers?
O sweet content!
Art thou rich, yet is... [read poem]
a river
In Madurai,
city of temples and poets,
who sang of cities and temples,
every summer... [read poem]
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