Saturday, April 23, 2016

More Weird Tales from the Renaissance

On October 23, 2011, I wrote about William Shakespeare (1564-1616) in an entry called "Weird Tales from the Renaissance." I had thought that Shakespeare--who died four hundred years ago today--was the only writer from the Renaissance to have been in the original Weird Tales. Now I find that there was another, Shakespeare's near contemporary, sometime collaborator, and successor, playwright John Fletcher (1579-1625).

I won't write much about John Fletcher, as his biography and credits are readily available on the Internet and in the world's libraries. He was born in Rye, England, in December 1579, orphaned in his teenage years, and educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University. His first play was The Faithful Shepherdess from 1608-1609. About fifty plays followed, of which about two-thirds were collaborations, with Francis Beaumont, Philip Massinger, Thomas Middleton, William Rowley, and others, including Shakespeare himself. After Shakespeare's death, John Fletcher assumed his role as the leading playwright for the acting company The King's Men. Fletcher died in August 1625 of the plague and was interred at Southwark Cathedral.

In its May issue of 1939, Weird Tales published a poem it called "The Dead Host's Welcome." (In Jaffery and Cook's Collector's Index to Weird Tales, the title is given as "The Dead Hart's Welcome.") That poem follows.

"The Dead Host's Welcome"
by John Fletcher
from The Lovers' Progress (edition of 1647)

'TIS late and cold; stir up the fire;
Sit close, and draw the table nigher;
Be merry, and drink wine that's old,
A hearty medicine 'gainst a cold:
Your beds of wanton down the best,
Where you shall tumble to your rest;
I could wish you wenches too,
But I am dead, and cannot do.
Call for the best the house may ring,
Sack, white, and claret, let them bring,
And drink apace, while breath you have;
You'll find but cold drink in the grave:
Plover, partridge, for your dinner,
And a capon for the sinner,
You shall find ready when you're up,
And your horse shall have his sup:
Welcome, welcome, shall fly round,
And I shall smile, though under ground.

John Fletcher (1).JPG
John Fletcher
(1579-1625)

Original text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

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