1834 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Flatman

Robert Aris Willmott, in Lives of Sacred Poets (1834) 338.



Wood has honoured FLATMAN with the title of an eminent poet. He painted better than he wrote, and Granger esteemed one of his heads worth a ream of his Pindarics. These justify the satire of Lord Rochester, but Pope copied him in The Dying Christian to his Soul, without thinking it necessary to mention the obligation. The Thought of Death must yield to the natural and impressive earnestness of the following verses:—

Oh, the sad day,
When friends shall shake their heads, and say
Oh miserable me.
Hark how he groans! look how he pants for breath!
See how he struggles with the pangs of Death!
When they shall say of these poor eyes,
How hollow and how dim they be!
Mark how his breast doth swell and rise
Against his potent enemy!
When some old friend shall step to my bed-side,
Touch my chill face, and thence shall gently slide;
And when his next companions say
"How doth he do? What hopes?" shall turn away;
Answering only with a lift-up hand—
Who can his fate withstand?"
Then shall a gasp or two do more
Than e'er my rhetoric could before;
Persuade the peevish world to trouble me no more.