John Marston

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Title page of John Marston's The Metamorphosis of Pigmalion's Image, 1598.

John Marston (1576June 25, 1634) was an English poet, playwright and satirist. In a short and stormy literary career two of his books were burned by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he himself suffered imprisonment on account of a third.


  • Foul canker of fair virtuous action,
    Vile blaster of the freshest blooms on earth,
    Envys abhorrèd child, Detraction,
    I here expose, to thy all-tainting breath,
    The issue of my brain: snarl, rail, bark, bite,
    Know that my spirit scorns Detraction's spite.
    • "To Detraction I Present My Poesy", line 1, from The Scourge of Villainy (1598-99).
  • Who winks and shuts his apprehension up.
  • For see, the dapple-grey coursers of the morn
    Beat up the light with their bright silver hoofs,
    And chase it through the sky.
    • Antonio's Revenge, Act I, sc. i.
  • Sing of the nature of women, and then the song shall be surely full of variety; old crotchets and most sweet closes. It shall be humorous, grave, fantastic, amorous, melancholy, sprightly, one in all, and all in one.


  • Marston is a writer of great merit, who rose to tragedy from the ground of comedy, and whose forte was not sympathy, either with the stronger or softer emotions, but an impatient scorn and bitter indignation against the vices and follies of men, which vented itself either in comic irony or in lofty invective. He was properly a satirist.
    • William Hazlitt Lectures on the Dramatic Literature of the Age of Elizabeth ([1820] 1845) Lecture 3, p. 57.
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