1658 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Flatman

George Castle, "On Mr. Somebody's Poetical Naps upon Parnassus" Naps upon Parnassus (1658) sigs A6v-A7v.



The Indians with Mundungo fumigate
Their brains, and all their senses opiate,
To comprehend their Gods: so must I make
My self dead drunk with Helicon, and take
A Nap upon Parnassus, to admit
Thy Muses, and dark Oracles of wit;
For thy obscure, dark, foggy, misty strains
Can't be receiv'd, but in as cloudy brains:
For they who such sublimities dispense,
Must finde out Souls free from the mists of sense.
And cataract of reason, which must be
(Like Him who put out's eyes that He might see.)
As dark, as is Thy Book: for why i'th Night,
Owles (which are blinde by Day) have quickest sight.
Old Homer, Virgil, Lucan, and Catullus,
Pass for good Poet, as the Ancients tell us;
So Ovid, Claudian, Juvenal, and Martial,
Yet thy compar'd with Thee 'r not worth a fart at all.
For they had One, and that no venial crime,
That they were understood by th' men o' th' time:
And what's more mean than That, which fault, if any,
Makes Parker's Poems vend but for a Penny.
And Katharine Stubbs for three pence, when the women
Won't grudge to pay a Crown for Jacob Behmen.
'Tis vulgar to be clear. 'Tis but a Quibble
To write a verse that is intelligible.
But Thy judicious Muse shun's this Offence,
And scorns the pedantry of writing Sense.
Thine are true Heights, for Thine invention
Confounds the Readers reason, and Thine own,
Thou (like to Him that shews the famous Sight
Of Bell and the Dragon) e're thou shew'st mak'st night.
The Heav'ns, by men that they so long have been,
Ador'd, ow't to the Clouds that are between:
So 'tis Thy Soot, and Smoak, makes us admire
Th' internal Flame, of thy Poetick Fire.
As Nature's Secret parts do not excite
So much when all go naked: so Thy wit,
If naked, had not tempted half so hotly,
As now in Peticoat and wastecoat Motly.
Through things transparent we dispatch our sight,
But gaze on those which terminate our light:
And while we view dark Objects, we ne're care
To take accompt of the perspicuous Air:
So had Thy Poetry transparent been,
We had in it no sense, no phansie seen:
But now 'tis so obscure, that twon't transmit
Our Rayes, we may suspect both Sense and Wit.
G. C. M.A. SOAC. Oxon.