Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO MY HONOURED FRIEND MR. GEORGE SANDYS, by HENRY KING (1592-1669)



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TO MY HONOURED FRIEND MR. GEORGE SANDYS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: It is, sir, a confess'd intrusion here
Last Line: Who firm'd his name on such a pyramid.
Subject(s): Sandys, George (1578-1644)


IT is, Sir, a confess'd intrusion here
That I before your labours do appear,
Which no loud herald need, that may proclaim
Or seek acceptance, but the Author's fame.
Much less that should this happy work commend,
Whose subject is its licence, and doth send
It to the world to be receiv'd and read,
Far as the glorious beams of truth are spread.

Nor let it be imagin'd that I look
Only with custom's eye upon your book;
Or in this service that 'twas my intent
T' exclude your person from your argument:
I shall profess, much of the love I owe,
Doth from the root of our extraction grow;
To which though I can little contribute,
Yet with a natural joy I must impute
To our tribe's honour, what by you is done
Worthy the title of a Prelate's son.

And scarcely have two brothers farther borne
A father's name, or with more value worn
Their own, than two of you; whose pens and feet
Have made the distant points of Heav'n to meet;
He by exact discoveries of the West,
Yourself by painful travels in the East.

Some more like you might pow'rfully confute
Th' opposers of Priests' marriage by the fruit.
And (since 'tis known for all their straight vow'd life,
They like the sex in any style but wife)
Cause them to change their cloister for that state
Which keeps men chaste by vows legitimate:
Nor shame to father their relations,
Or under nephews' names disguise their sons.
This child of yours, born without spurious blot,
And fairly midwiv'd as it was begot,
Doth so much of the parent's goodness wear,
You may be proud to own it for your heir.
Whose choice acquits you from the common sin
Of such, who finish worse than they begin:
You mend upon yourself, and your last strain
Does of your first the start in judgement gain;
Since what in curious travel was begun,
You here conclude in a devotion.

Where in delightful raptures we descry
As in a map, Sion's chorography
Laid out in so direct and smooth a line,
Men need not go about through Palestine:
Who seek Christ here will the straight road prefer,
As nearer much than by the Sepulchre.
For not a limb grows here, but is a path;
Which in God's City the blest centre hath:
And doth so sweetly on each passion strike,
The most fantastic taste will somewhat like.
To the unquiet soul Job still from hence
Pleads in th' example of his patience.
The mortified may hear the wise King preach,
When his repentance made him fit to teach.
Nor shall the singing Sisters be content
To chant at home the Act of Parliament,
Turn'd out of reason into rhyme by one
Free of his trade, though not of Helicon,
Who did in his poetic zeal contend
Others' edition by a worse to mend.
Here are choice Hymns and Carols for the glad,
With melancholy Dirges for the sad:
And David (as he could his skill transfer)
Speaks like himself by an interpreter.
Your Muse rekindled hath the Prophet's fire,
And tun'd the strings of his neglected lyre;
Making the note and ditty so agree,
They now become a perfect harmony.

I must confess, I have long wish'd to see
The Psalms reduc'd to this conformity:
Grieving the songs of Sion should be sung
In phrase not diff'ring from a barbarous tongue.
As if, by custom warranted, we may
Sing that to God we would be loath to say.
Far be it from my purpose to upbraid
Their honest meaning, who first offer made
That book in metre to compile, which you
Have mended in the form, and built anew:
And it was well, considering the time,
Which hardly could distinguish verse and rhyme.
But now the language, like the Church, hath won
More lustre since the Reformation;
None can condemn the wish or labour spent
Good matter in good words to represent.

Yet in this jealous age some such there be,
So without cause afraid of novelty,
They would not (were it in their pow'r to choose)
An old ill practice for a better lose.
Men who a rustic plainness so affect,
They think God served best by their neglect.
Holding the cause would be profan'd by it,
Were they at charge of learning or of wit.
And therefore bluntly (what comes next) they bring
Coarse and unstudied stuffs for offering;
Which like th' old Tabernacle's cov'ring are,
Made up of badgers' skins, and of goat's hair.
But these are paradoxes they must use
Their sloth and bolder ignorance t' excuse.
Who would not laugh at one will naked go,
'Cause in old hangings truth is pictur'd so?
Though plainness be reputed honour's note,
They mantles use to beautify the coat;
So that a curious (unaffected) dress
Adds much unto the body's comeliness:
And wheresoe'er the subject's best, the sense
Is better'd by the speaker's eloquence.

But, Sir, to you I shall no trophy raise
From other men's detraction or dispraise:
That jewel never had inherent worth,
Which ask'd such foils as these to set it forth.
If any quarrel your attempt or style,
Forgive them; their own folly they revile.
Since, 'gainst themselves, their factious envy shall
Allow this work of yours canonical.
Nor may you fear the Poet's common lot,
Read, and commended, and then quite forgot:
The brazen mines and marble rocks shall waste,
When your foundation will unshaken last.
'Tis Fame's best pay, that you your labours see
By their immortal subject crowned be.
For ne'er was writer in oblivion hid
Who firm'd his name on such a Pyramid.





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