1658 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Flatman

Samuel Woodford, "To his ingenuous Friend, the Author, on his incomparable Poems. Carmen Jocoserium" Naps upon Parnassus (1658) sigs B4v-B5.



Wer't not my friend, the world should know
How I could praise thy Works [I trow]
Sounding hence to Constantinople
Poetique strains, I'le wage a Noble;
But since 'tis so, (Oh! Oh, the pity!)
I must land thee in Obscurity;
Making thy Verses this the Better,
Because like thine in Word, and Letter.
Nor are they therefore to be blam'd,
They will be lighter if enflam'd:
Never till then, expect a Riddle
To be explain'd with faddle fiddle.
Such Lines as these were none before,
Since the cruel fight of Sir Eglamore.
And in a word; that I may end all,
Better were never made by Kendall.

Once again,
If I may guess at Poets in our Land,
Thou beat'st them all above, and under hand;
Nay, under leg too; for thy feet out-run 'um,
As far as is from Oxford to Lon'on:
Nay, give them half in half, thou creepest faster
Then Scotish Posts, that in the greatest haste are;
Nor in thy speed alone do lie thy Glories,
But thou'rt so sweet, that done, thou tastest Morish.
Who ere (I wiss) did see one, like thee, handy?
And Rhymes deliciouser than Sugar candy?
To thee compar'd, our English Poets all stop
And vail their Bonnets, even Shakespear's Falstop.
Chaucer the first of all was'nt worth a farthing,
Lidgate, and Huntingdon, with Gaffer Harding.
Non-sense the Faery Queen, and Michael Drayton,
Like Babel's Balm; or Rhymes of Edward Paiton,
Waller, and Turlingham, and brave George Sandys,
Beaumont, and Fletcher, Donne, Jeremy Candish,
Herbert, and Cleeveland, and all the train noble
Are Saints-bells unto thee, and thou great Bow-bell.
Ben Johnson 'tis true shew'd us how he could hit
Each humour now; and then be out of it;
Nor could he alwayes keep his Muse a gallop,
With curb, or whip, but sometimes had but small hope.
Cowly alack's too plain; his Davideis
But fit for boyes to read, like Virgil's Enaeis;
And for his Mistress, and his other Poems;
Anacreontique, and Pindarique Theams,
They have no Method in 'um, and are not worth
One pin to kindle fires and set on hot broth.
None like to Thee but the writer of URANIA,
Or Friar John the Poet of Normannia;
With Pagan Fisher, who erst made a speech
To shew that he could versifie, and preach;
And put in the News-books too, for all
To know, how he was jeer'd in Christs-Church Hall.
Thou bee'st a brave Boy, trust me if thou be'nt,
The best that ever eat salt fish in Lent;
Which makes thy Verses too be so witty,
Because Thou seasonest so well each Ditty.