1674 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Flatman

Richard Newcourt, "To his esteemed Friend, Mr. Thomas Flatman, on the publishing of his Poems" Flatman, Poems (1674); Saintsbury, Minor Poets of the Caroline Period (1905-21) 3:289.



Your Poems (friend) come on the public stage
In a debauch'd and a censorious age;
Where nothing now is counted standard wit,
But what's profane, obscene, or's bad as it.
For our great wits, like gallants of the times
(And such they are), court only those loose rhymes,
Which, like their misses, patch'd and painted are;
But scorn what virtuous is and truly fair;
Such as your Muse is, who with careful art
For all but such, hath wisely fram'd a part.

One while (methinks) under some gloomy shade,
I see the melancholy lover laid,
Pleasing himself in that his pensive fit
With what you have on such occasion writ.

Another while (methinks) I seem to hear
'Mongst those, who sometimes will unbend their care,
And steal themselves out from the busy throng,
Your pleasant Songs in solemn consort sung.

Again (methinks) I see the grave Divine
Lay by his other books, to look on thine,
And from thy serious and divine Review
See what our duty is, and his own too.

Yet, worthy friend, you can't but guess what doom
Is like to pass on what you've writ, by some;
But there are others, now your book comes forth,
Who (I am sure) will prize it as worth,
Who know it fully fraught with staple ware,
Such as the Works of the great Cowley are,
And 'mongst our rarest English poems, thine
Next unto his immortally shall shine.