Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO THE AUTHOR ON HIS EXCELLENT POEMS, by NAHUM TATE



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TO THE AUTHOR ON HIS EXCELLENT POEMS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Strange magic of thy wit and style
Last Line: Their pride I'th' novel garb, but to conceal their shame.
Subject(s): Flatman, Thomas (1637-1688)


I.

STRANGE magic of thy wit and style,
Which to their griefs mankind can reconcile!
Whilst thy Philander's tuneful voice we hear
Condoling our disastrous state,
Touch'd with a sense of our hard fate,
We sigh perhaps, or drop a tear,
But he the mournful song so sweetly sings,
That more of pleasure than regret it brings.
With such becoming grief
The Trojan chief
Troy's conflagration did relate,
Whilst ev'n the suff'rers in the fire drew near
And with a greedy ear
Devour'd the story of their own subverted state.

II.

Kind Heav'n (as to her darling son) to thee
A double portion did impart,
A gift of Painting and of Poesy:
But for thy rivals in the painter's art,
If well they represent, they can effect
No more, nor can we more expect.
But more than this thy happy pencils give;
Thy draughts are more than representative,
For, if we'll credit our own eyes, they live!
Ah! worthy friend, couldst thou maintain the state
Of what with so much ease thou dost create,
We might reflect on death with scorn!
But pictures, like th' originals, decay!
Of colours those consist, and these of clay;
Alike compos'd of dust, to dust alike return!

III.

Yet 'tis our happiness to see
Oblivion, Death, and adverse Destiny
Encounter'd, vanquish'd, and disarm'd by thee.
For if thy pencils fail,
Change thy artillery
And thou'rt secure of victory.
Employ thy quill and thou shalt still prevail.
The Grand Destroyer, greedy Time, reveres
Thy Fancy's imag'ry, and spares
The meanest thing that bears
Th' impression of thy pen;
Tho' coarse and cheap their natural metal were,
Stamp'd with thy verse he knows th' are sacred then,
He knows them by that character to be
Predestinate and set apart for immortality.

IV.

If native lustre in thy themes appear,
Improv'd by thee it shines more clear:
Or if thy subject's void of native light,
Thy Fancy need but dart a beam
To gild thy theme,
And make the rude mass beautiful and bright.
Thou vary'st oft thy strains, but still
Success attends each strain:
Thy verse is always lofty as the hill,
Or pleasant as the plain.
How well thy Muse the Pastoral Song improves!
Whose nymphs and swains are in their loves
As innocent, and yet as kind as doves.
But most She moves our wonder and delight,
When She performs her loose Pindaric flight,
Oft to their outmost reach She will extend
Her tow'ring wings to soar on high,
And then by just degrees descend:
Oft in a swift strait course She glides,
Obliquely oft the air divides,
And oft with wanton play hangs hov'ring in the sky.

V.

Whilst sense of duty into my artless Muse
Th' ambition would infuse
To mingle with those Nymphs that homage pay,
And wait on thine in her triumphant way,
Defect of merit checks her forward pride,
And makes her dread t' approach thy chariot side;
For 'twere at least a rude indecency
(If not profane) t' appear At this solemnity,
Crown'd with no laurel wreath (as others are);
But this we will presume to do,
At distance, to attend the show,
Officious to gather up
The scatter'd bays, if any drop
From others' temples, and with those
A plain plebeian coronet compose.
This, as your livery, she'd wear, to hide
Her nakedness, not gratify her pride!
Such was the verdant dress
Which the Offending Pair did frame
Of platted leaves, not to express
Their pride i'th' novel garb, but to conceal their shame.





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