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George Wither
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Poet
    (June 11, 1588-May 2, 1667)
    Born in Bentworth, England, United Kingdom
    Best-known poems were 'I Loved a Lass' and 'Shall I, Waiting in Despair'
    Fought on the Parliamentarian side during the English Civil War
    Despite two years at Oxford, he apparently made little impression on the neighbors, who advised his father to teach him 'some mechanic trade.'
    His poems became increasingly obsessed with politics and religion, and he renounced his early love poems. (The only ones of his poems anyone bothers to read.)
    The Dictionary of National Biography said of his poetry, 'It usually lacks any genuine literary quality and often sinks into imbecile doggerel.'
    Alexander Pope called him 'wretched Wither' and John Dryden said of his verses that 'if they rhymed and rattled all was well.'
    After the execution of King Charles I, he and another Parliamentarian took the King's coronation regalia out of mothballs and staged a mock pageant.
    He repaid John Denham for saving his life (see below) by seizing part of his estate after the Civil War.
    His badness saved his life: When he was captured by the King's forces during the Civil War, Royalist poet John Denham petitioned King Charles I to spare him, on the grounds that as long as Wither was alive, 'I should not be accounted the worst poet in England.'
    He was twice imprisoned for writing satirical poetry.
    He was given property after the Civil War, but lost it after he criticized Oliver Cromwell.
    He was imprisoned for three years after Charles II took the throne in the Restoration.

Credit: C. Fishel


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