The Ayenbyte of FLEA-witte
Like The Vicar of Bray, THE FLEA hath endured, nay, enjoyed, many a change of liturgy; and yet, whatsoe'er King may reign, still THE MIGHTY FLEA, that sharp-tooth’d bounder, hoppeth ever on; & shall so continue, in spite of Condemnation by Whig or Tory, Papist or Protestant, Precisianist, Presbyterian, Puritan, Pharisee, or even (it may be) by Prominent Poetry Pundit! For here shall the True Faith of Poesy prevail, whose First Article is (and must always be) that it is the Poem, not the Poet, and the Poem onlie, which shall be the basis of THE FLEA’s whimsical but firm selection; honestly made in service of The Soveraigne Muse. Let all wild-eyed Ranters who would brow-beat, black-ball, black-mail, bad-mouth or balefullie abuse THE FLEA take most particular Note, that THE FLEA will byte wheresoever it pleaseth, while remaining loyal to whoever is the lawful King, (unless the Times should alter); but as a Flea true always to The Soveraygne Muse.
This series of irregular Broadsheets (or ‘Sporadicals’ to borrow the marvellous term of the Rt. Hon. Lady Kate Bernadette Benedict, Mistress of that Paragon of Poetick Parasols, the Umbrella) came into being because Yr Hble Obdt descryed a rank Prejudice amongst the general run of Editors Poetical; namely, a Set against the more abstract, learned, abstruse, idiosyncratick, old-fashioned, un-fashionable, archaic, arcane, eccentric, ignor’d, o’er-look’d, damp-patch, cross-patch, cross-grain’d, quirky, unpopular, metaphysical, odd, freakish, out-landish, old-hat, or out-moded styles of Versification; styles which, though incompatible perhaps with the dull Orthodoxy of this late dismal Age, have yet often begat Poems of great merit and authenticity. THE FLEA hath, as its very reason for being, the Intent to provide a Vehicle of Publication for such excellent verse that may be of such a Cut as doth not at all comply with prevalent Fads & Fashions.
Your Humble & Obedient Editor, viz. Paul Christian Stevens, is guided always and onlie by the Muse’s Ideal of publishing a Poem for its Merit alone; & not at all on account of the Accidents of authorial Personality, rank, fame, character, health, sanity, habits, history, celebrity, criminal record, Fortune or Misfortune, popular Acclaim or Disdain &c, &c; nor any other whatsoever of the heart-aches and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. Moreover, often enough, his Mind inflam’d & his Spirits arous’d by the exemplary Ale serv’d by Mine Hostess at The Mermaid Tavern, Mr. Stevens will assert most adamantly (& at times, indeed, belligerently & with forceful, animated gestures) that no Poetry Editor whatsoever, of Integrity & good Courage, could in Honour do otherwyse.
Honi soit qui mal y pense!