1677 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Flatman

Nahum Tate, "To the Author on his excellent Poems" Tate, Poems (1677) 8-13.



I.
Strange Magick of thy Wit, and Stile,
Which to their griefs mankind can Reconcile!
Whilst thy Philander's tuneful Voice we hear
Condoling our Disastrous state,
Toucht with a sense of our hard Fate,
We sigh perhaps, or drop a Tear;
But he the mournful song so sweetly sings,
That more of Pleasure than Regret it brings.
With such becoming Grief
The Trojan Chief
Troy's Conflagration did relate,
Whilst ev'n the Suff'rers in the Fire drew near,
And with a greedy Ear
Devour'd the story of their own subverted state.

II.
Kind Heav'n (as to her darling Son) to Thee
A double Portion did impart,
A gift of Painting and of Poesie:
But for thy Rivals in the Painters Art,
If well they Represent, they can effect
No more, nor can we more expect.
But more than this Thy happy Pencils give;
Thy Drafts are more than Representative;
For, if we'l credit our own eyes, they Live!
Ah! Worthy Friend cou'dst Thou maintain the State
Of what with so much Ease thou do'st Create,
We might reflect on Death with Scorn!
But Pictures like th' Originals decay!
Of Colours Those consist, and These of Clay;
Alike Compos'd of Dust, to Dust alike Return!

III.
Yet 'tis our Happiness to see
Oblivion, Death, and adverse Destiny
Encountred, Vanquish'd, and Disarm'd by thee.
For if thy Pencils fail,
Change thy Artillery,
And Thou'rt secure of Victory;
Employ thy Quill, and thou shalt still prevail.
The grand Destroyer greedy Time, reveres
Thy Fancy's Imag'ry, and spares
The meanest thing that bear
Th' Impression of thy Pen;
Tho' coarse and cheap their Natural Mettal were,
Stampt with thy Verse, he knows th' are sacred, then,
He knows them by that Character to be
Predestinate, and set apart for Immortality.

IV.
If native Lustre in thy Theams appear,
Improv'd by thee it shines more clear:
Or if thy Subject's void of native Light,
Thy Fancy need but dart a Beam
To guild thy Theam,
And make the rude Mass beautiful and bright.
Thou vary'st oft thy Strains, but still
Success attends each Strain:
Thy Verse is alwayes lofty as the Hill,
Or pleasant as the Plain.
How well thy Muse the Pastoral Song improves!
Whose Nymphs and Swains are in their Loves,
As Innocent, and yet as Kind as Doves.
But most She moves our Wonder and Delight,
When She performs her loose Pindarick Flight;
Oft to their outmost reach She will extend
Her towring Wings to soar on high,
And then by just Degrees descend:
Oft in a swift strait Course she glides,
Obliquely oft the air divides,
And oft with wanton Play hangs hov'ring in the sky.

V.
Whilst sense of duty into my artless Muse,
Th' ambition wou'd infuse
To mingle with those Nymphs that Homage pay,
And wait on Thine in her tryumphant Way;
Defect of Merit checks her forward Pride,
And makes her dread t' approach thy Chariot side;
For 'twere at least a rude Indecency
(If not Profane) t' appear
At this Solemnity,
Crown'd with no Lawrel Wreath (when others are.)
But this we will presume to do,
At distance, to attend the show,
Officiously to gather up
The scatter'd Bayes, if any drop
From others Temples; and with those,
A plain Plebeian Coronet compose.
This, as your Livery, she'd wear, to hide
Her Nakedness, not gratifie her Pride!
Such was the Verdant dress,
Which the offending Pair did frame
Of platted Leaves, not to express
Their Pride i' th' Novel-garb, but to conceal their Shame.