Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO FLETCHER REVIV'D, by RICHARD LOVELACE

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TO FLETCHER REVIV'D, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: How have I been religious? What strange good
Last Line: Yet all men henceforth be afraid to write.
Subject(s): Fletcher, John (1579-1625); Poetry & Poets; Writing & Writers

How have I been religious? what strange good
Has scap'd me that I never understood?
Have I hell-guarded heresy o'erthrown?
Heal'd wounded states? made kings and kingdoms one?
That fate should be so merciful to me,
To let me live t' have said I have read thee?

Fair star, ascend! the joy, the life, the light
Of this tempestuous age, this dark world's sight!
Oh, from thy crown of glory dart one flame
May strike a sacred reverence, whilst thy name,
Like holy flamens to their God of Day,
We bowing sing; and whilst we praise, we pray.

Bright spirit! whose eternal motion
Of wit, like Time, still in itself did run,
Binding all others in it, and did give
Commission how far this or that shall live;
Like Destiny of poems, who, as she
Signs death to all, herself can never die.

And now thy purple-robed Tragedy,
In her embroider'd buskins, calls mine eye,
Where brave Aëtius we see betray'd
T' obey his death whom thousand lives obey'd;
Whilst that the mighty fool his sceptre breaks,
And through his gen'ral's wounds his own doom speaks:
Weaving thus richly Valentinian
The costliest monarch with the cheapest man.

Soldiers may here to their old glories add,
The Lover love, and be with reason Mad:
Not, as of old, Alcides furious,
Who wilder than his bull did tear the house,
(Hurling his language with the canvas stone):
'Twas thought the monster roar'd the sob'rer tone.

But ah! when thou thy sorrow didst inspire
With passions black as is her dark attire,
Virgins as sufferers have wept to see
So white a soul, so red a cruelty;

That thou hast griev'd, and with unthought redress,
Dri'd their wet eyes who now thy mercy bless;
Yet, loth to lose thy wat'ry jewel, when
Joy wip'd it off, Laughter straight sprung 't agen.

Now ruddy-cheeked Mirth with rosy wings
Fans ev'ry brow with gladness, whilst she sings
Delight to all, and the whole theatre
A festival in heaven doth appear:
Nothing but pleasure, love, and, like the morn,
Each face a gen'ral smiling doth adorn.

Hear, ye foul speakers that pronounce the air
Of stews and shores, I will inform you where
And how to clothe aright your wanton wit,
Without her nasty bawd attending it:
View here a loose thought said with such a grace,
Minerva might have spoke in Venus' face;
So well disguis'd, that 'twas conceiv'd by none
But Cupid had Diana's linen on,
And all his naked parts so veil'd, th' express
The shape with clouding the uncomeliness;
That if this reformation which we
Receiv'd had not been buried with thee,
The Stage, as this work, might have liv'd and lov'd
Her lines, the austere scarlet had approv'd,
And th' actors wisely been from that offence
As clear as they are now from audience.

Thus with thy genius did the Scene expire,
Wanting thy active and correcting fire,
That now---to spread a darkness over all---
Nothing remains but Poesy to fall;
And though from these thy embers we receive
Some warmth, so much as may be said we live,
That we dare praise thee, blushless, in the head
Of the best piece Hermes to Love e'er read,
That we rejoice and glory in thy wit,
And feast each other with rememb'ring it,
That we dare speak thy thought, thy acts recite;
Yet all men henceforth be afraid to write.

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