Thomas Flatman

George Saintsbury (ed.), Minor Poets of the Caroline Period, Vol. 3: John Cleveland, Thomas Stanley, Henry King, Thomas Flatman, Nathaniel Whiting

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To the Excellent Master of Music, Signior Pietro Reggio, on His Book of Songs.

  • 1Tho' to advance thy fame, full well I know
  • 2How very little my dull pen can do;
  • 3Yet, with all deference, I gladly wait,
  • 4Enthrong'd amongst th' attendants on thy state:
  • 5Thus when Arion, by his friends betray'd,
  • 6Upon his understanding-Dolphin play'd,
  • 7The scaly people their resentments show'd
  • Editor’s Note8By pleas'd levoltoes on the wond'ring flood.
  • 9  Great Artist! thou deserv'st our loudest praise
  • 10From th' garland to the meanest branch of bays;
  • 11For poets can but Say, thou mak'st them Sing,
  • 12And th' embryo-words dost to perfection bring;
  • 13By us the Muse conceives, but when that's done,
  • 14Thy midwif'ry makes fit to see the Sun;
  • 15Our naked lines, drest and adorn'd by thee,
  • 16Assume a beauty, pomp, and bravery;
  • 17So awful and majestic they appear,
  • 18They need not blush to reach a Prince's ear.
  • 19Princes, tho' to poor poets seldom kind,
  • 20Their numbers turn'd to air with pleasure mind.
  • 21Studied and labour'd tho' our poems be,
  • 22Alas! they die unheeded without thee,
  • 23Whose art can make our breathless labours live,
  • 24Spirit and everlasting vigour give.
  • 25Whether we write of Heroes and of Kings,
  • 26In Mighty Numbers, Mighty Things,
  • pg 37227Or in a humble Ode express our sense
  • 28Of th' happy state of ease and innocence;
  • 29A country life where the contented swain
  • 30Hugs his dear peace, and does a crown disdain;
  • 31Thy dext'rous notes with all our thoughts comply,
  • 32Can creep on Earth, can up to Heaven fly;
  • 33In heights and cadences, so sweet, so strong,
  • 34They suit a shepherd's reed, an angel's tongue.
  • 35————But who can comprehend
  • 36The raptures of thy voice, and miracles of thy hand?

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Editor’s Note
To Signior Pietro Reggio.] First printed in Songs of Signior Pietro Reggio, folio undated (but issued in 1680); Shadwell and Ayres also contributed to it. It had an engraved title-page of Arion on a Dolphin (cf. l. 5), and was dedicated to the king (cf. l. 18).
Editor’s Note
Epitaph on the Incomparable Sir John King.] This 'incomparable' was an Etonian and a Cambridge (Queens' College) man, who became K.C. and Attorney-General to the Duke of York.
A first draft is in the Ashmole MS. 826 (fol. 50) of the Bodleian. Ll. 1–6 are at the end of the epitaph, and add a touch of bathos—'Et Interioris Templi Socius'—and the date—'Obiit tercio Calendarum Julii, Anno Æræ Christianæ', 1677; Ætatis 38'. In l. 8 the reading is 'obmutesce'. The 1682 has the simple heading 'In the Temple Church', and reads 'decorata' in l. 24.
Editor’s Note
8 Levoltoes 1682: levaltoes 1686—both variants of the form 'lavolta'.
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