1756 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Flatman

Joseph Warton, in Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope (1756; 1782) 1:88-89.



There is a close and surprising resemblance between this ode of POPE [The Dying Christian to his Soul], and one of an obscure and forgotten rhymer of the age of Charles the second, namely Thomas Flatman; from whose dunghill, as well as from the dregs of Crashaw, of Carew, of Herbert, and others, (for it is well known he was a great reader of all those poets) POPE has very judiciously collected gold. And the following stanza is perhaps the only valuable one Flatman has produced.

When on my sick bed I languish,
Full of sorrow, full of anguish,
Fainting, gasping, trembling, crying,
Panting, groaning, speechless, dying;
Methinks I hear some gentle spirit say,
Be not fearful, come away!

The third and fourth lines are eminently good and pathetic, and the climax well preserved; the very turn of them is closely copied by POPE; as is likewise the striking circumstance of the dying man's imagining he hears a voice calling him away;

Vital spark of heavenly flame
Quit, O quit, this mortal frame;
Trembling, hoping, lingring, flying,
O the pain, the bliss of dying!
Hark! they whisper, angels say,
Sister spirit, come away!