1674 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Flatman

Francis Barnard, "To my Friend, Mr. Thomas Flatman, on the publishing of these his Poems" Flatman, Poems (1674); Saintsbury, Minor Poets of the Caroline Period (1905-21) 3:288-89.



Let not (my friend) th' incredulous sceptic man
Dispute what potent Art and Nature can!
Let him believe, the birds that did bemoan
The loss of Zeuxis' grapes in querulous tone,
Were silenc'd by a painted dragon, found
A Telesme to restrain their chatt'ring sound,
And that one made a mistress could enforce
A neighing sigh, ev'n from a stallion horse!
Let old Timanthes now unveil the face
Of his Atrides, thou'lt give sorrow grace!
Now may Parrhasius let his curtain stand!
And great Protogenes take' off his hand!
For all that lying Greece and Latium too
Have told us of, thou (only thou) mak'st true.
And all the miracles which they could show,
Remain no longer faith; but science now.
Thou dost those things that no man else durst do,
Thou paint'st the lightning, and the thunder too!
The soul and voice!

Thou'lt make Turks, Jews, with Romanists consent,
To break the second great Commandement:
And them persuade an adoration giv'n
In picture, will as grateful be to Heavn
As one in metre. Th' art is in excess;
But yet thy ingenuity makes it less.
With pen and pencil thou dost all outshine,
In speaking picture, Poesy divine.
Poets, creators are! You made us know
Those are above, and dread those are below;
But 'tis no wonder you such things can dare,
That painter, poet, and a prophet are.
The stars themselves think it no scorn to be
Plac'd, and directed in their way by thee.
Thou know'st their virtue, and their situation,
The fate of years, and every great mutation;
With the same kindness let them look on Earth,
As when they gave thee first thy happy birth!
The sober Saturn aspects Cynthia bright,
Resigning hers, to give us thy new light.
The gentle Venus rose with Mercury
(Presage of softness in thy Poesy),
And Jove and Mars in amicable Trine
Do still give spirit to thy polish'd line.
Thou mayst do what thou wilt without control:
Only thyself and Heav'n can paint thy soul.