1619 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Mr. Jo. Tomkins.

The Purple Island, or the Isle of Man: Together with Piscatorie Eclogs and other Poeticall Miscellanies. By P. F.

Rev. Phineas Fletcher


Eight irregular Spenserians; the stanza is ottava rima with an appended "Spenserian" alexandrine (abababccC). This verse epistle was evidently accompanied by a collection of poems that Fletcher suggests might be set by his musician friend: "To thee I here bequeath the courtly joyes, | Seeing to court my Thomalin is bent: | Take from thy Thirsil these his idle toyes; | Here I will end my looser merriment." Fletcher concludes by abandoning his poetic ambitions: "Farewell ye Norfolk maids, and Ida crue: | Thirsil will play no more; for ever now adieu."

Herbert E. Cory: "With Phineas Fletcher we find a direct classical influence as well as Spenserian, a greater languor, and the marks of decline. Fletcher was one of those poets who, in their youth, lent a readier ear to the plaints of the shepherd Colin than to the high seriousness of the Faerie Queene. But there came a time when the young pastor repented his amorous days and sealed high resolves with a boyish lyric of regretful farewell.... See To Mr. Jo. Tomkins" "Spenserian Pastoral" PMLA 25 (1910) 260-61.

Abram Barnett Langdale: "In 1619 Thomalin left Cambridge to become organist of St. Paul's Cathedral, setting out upon a career which was to make him one of England's famous musicians.... Phineas Fletcher celebrated his friend's preferment to St. Paul's by composing 'To Mr. Jo. Tomkins.' The author was compelled to contrast his humble lot with the other's triumph, but the poem reveals the serenity which, like a shining mantle, had fallen upon him" Phineas Fletcher (1937) 79.

Frank S. Kastor: "The style of the epistle, although pastoral in mode and conventions, is clearly simpler and tighter than his pastoral style of the preceding decade. One sees, for example, a more declarative construction, a simpler syntax, a cleaner prosody, and a less merely decorative verbalization" Giles and Phineas Fletcher (1978) 125.

Ethel Seaton reprints from manuscript a version titled "Non Invisa Cano," in Venus and Anchises, Britain's Ida, and other Poems (1926).



Thomalin my lief, thy musick strains to heare,
More raps my soul, then when the swelling windes
On craggie rocks their whistling voices tear;
Or when the sea, if stopt his course he findes,
With broken murmures thinks weak shores to fear,
Scorning such sandie cords his proud head bindes:
More then where rivers in the summers ray
(Through covert glades cutting their shadie way)
Run tumbling down the lawns, and with the pebles play.

Thy strains to heare, old Chamus from his cell
Comes guarded with an hundred Nymphs around;
An hundred Nymphs, that in his rivers dwell,
About him flock with water-lilies crown'd:
For thee the Muses leave their silver well,
And marvel where thou all their art hast found:
There sitting they admire thy dainty strains,
And while thy sadder accent sweetly plains,
Feel thousand sugred joyes creep in their melting veins.

How oft have I, the Muses bower frequenting,
Miss'd them at home, and found them all with thee!
Whether thou sing'st sad Eupathus lamenting,
Or tunest notes to sacred harmonie,
The ravisht soul, with thy sweet songs consenting,
Scorning the earth, in heav'nly extasie
Transcends the starres, and with the angels train
Those courts survaies; and now come back again,
Findes yet another heav'n in thy delightfull strain.

Ah! could'st thou here thy humble minde content
Lowly with me to live in countrey cell,
And learn suspect the courts proud blandishment;
Here might we safe, here might we sweetly dwell.
Live Pallas in her towers and marble tent;
But (ah!) the countrey bowers please me as well:
There with my Thomalin I safe would sing,
And frame sweet ditties to thy sweeter string:
There would we laugh at spite and fortunes thundering.

No flattery, hate, or envy lodgeth there;
There no suspicion wall'd in proved steel,
Yet fearfull of the arms her self doth wear:
Pride is not there; no tyrant there we feel;
No clamorous laws shall deaf thy musick eare:
They know no change, nor wanton fortunes wheel:
Thousand fresh sports grow in those daintie places:
Light Fawns and Nymphs dance in the woodie spaces,
And little Love himself plaies with the naked Graces.

But seeing fate my happie wish refuses,
Let me alone enjoy my low estate.
Of all the gifts that fair Parnassus uses,
Onely scorn'd povertie, and fortunes hate
Common I finde to me, and to the Muses:
But with the Muses welcome poorest fate.
Safe in my humble cottage will I rest;
And lifting up from my untainted breast
A quiet spirit to heav'n, securely live, and blest.

To thee I here bequeath the courtly joyes,
Seeing to court my Thomalin is bent:
Take from thy Thirsil these his idle toyes;
Here I will end my looser merriment:
And when thou sing'st them to the wanton boyes,
Among the courtly lasses blandishment,
Think of thy Thirsil's love that never spends;
And softly say, his love still better mends:
Ah too unlike the love of court, or courtly friends!

Go little pipe; for ever I must leave thee,
My little little pipe, but sweetest ever:
Go, go; for I have vow'd to see thee never,
Never, (ah!) never must I more receive thee;
But he in better love will still persever:
Go little pipe, for I must have a new:
Farewell ye Norfolk maids, and Ida crue:
Thirsil will play no more; for ever now adieu.

[pp. 67-69]