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Full Online Book HomePoemsTo Fletcher Reviv'd
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To Fletcher Reviv'd Post by :iskender Category :Poems Author :Richard Lovelace Date :October 2011 Read :1988

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To Fletcher Reviv'd

To Fletcher Reviv'd.<1>


How have I bin religious? what strange good
Has scap't me, that I never understood?
Have I hel-guarded Haeresie o'rthrowne?
Heald 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.

Faire star, ascend! the joy! the life! the light
Of this tempestuous age, this darke worlds sight!
Oh, from thy crowne of glory dart one flame
May strike a sacred reverence, whilest thy name
(Like holy flamens to their god of day)
We bowing, sing; and whilst we praise, we pray.

Bright spirit! whose aeternal motion
Of wit, like Time, stil in it selfe did run,
Binding all others in it, and did give
Commission, how far this or that shal live;
Like DESTINY of poems who, as she
Signes death to all, her selfe cam never dye.

And now thy purple-robed Traegedy,<63.2>
In her imbroider'd buskins, cals mine eye,
Where the brave Aetius we see betray'd,
T' obey his death, whom thousand lives obey'd;
Whilst that the mighty foole his scepter breakes,
And through his gen'rals wounds his own doome speakes,
Weaving thus richly VALENTINIAN,
The costliest monarch with the cheapest man.

Souldiers may here to their old glories adde,
The LOVER love, and be with reason MAD:<63.3>
Not, as of old, Alcides furious,<63.4>
Who wilder then his bull did teare the house
(Hurling his language with the canvas stone):
Twas thought the monster ror'd the sob'rer tone.

But ah! when thou thy sorrow didst inspire
With passions, blacke as is her darke attire,
Virgins as sufferers have wept to see
So white a soule, so red a crueltie;
That thou hast griev'd, and with unthought redresse
Dri'd their wet eyes who now thy mercy blesse;
Yet, loth to lose thy watry jewell, when
Joy wip't it off, laughter straight sprung't agen.

Now ruddy checked Mirth with rosie wings<63.5>
Fans ev'ry brow with gladnesse, whilst she sings
Delight to all, and the whole theatre
A festivall in heaven doth appeare:
Nothing but pleasure, love; and (like the morne)
Each face a gen'ral smiling doth adorne.

Heare ye, foul speakers, that pronounce the aire
Of stewes and shores,<63.6> I will informe you where
And how to cloath aright your wanton wit,
Without her nasty bawd attending it:<63.7>
View here a loose thought sayd 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 linnen on;
And all his naked parts so vail'd, th' expresse
The shape with clowding the uncomlinesse;
That if this Reformation, which we
Receiv'd, had not been buried with thee,
The stage (as this worke) might have liv'd and lov'd
Her lines, the austere Skarlet<63.8> had approv'd;
And th' actors wisely been from that offence
As cleare, as they are now from audience.<63.9>

Thus with thy Genius did the scaene expire,<63.10>
Wanting thy active and correcting fire,
That now (to spread a darknesse over all)
Nothing remaines but Poesie 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 blushlesse, in the head
Of the best piece Hermes to Love<63.11> e're read;
That we rejoyce and glory in thy wit,
And feast each other with remembring it;
That we dare speak thy thought, thy acts recite:
Yet all men henceforth be afraid to write.


Notes:

<1> Fletcher the dramatist fell a victim to the plague of 1625. See Aubrey's LIVES, vol. 2, part i. p. 352. The verses here republished were originally prefixed to the first collected edition of Beaumont and Fletcher's TRAGEDIES AND COMEDIES, 1647, folio. It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader that Lovelace was only a child when Fletcher died.

<2> VALENTINIAN, A TRAGEDY. First printed in the folio of 1647.

<3> THE MAD LOVER. Also first printed in the folio of 1647.

<4> An allusion to the HERCULES FURENS of Euripides. Lovelace had, no doubt, some tincture of Greek scholarship (See Wood's ATH. OX. ii. 466); but as to the extent of his acquirements in this direction, it is hard to speak with confidence. Among the books of Mr. Thomas Jolley, dispersed in 1853, was a copy of Clenardus INSTITUTIONES GRAECAE LINGUAE, Lugd. Batav. 1626, 8vo., on the title of which was "Richard Lovelace, 1630, March 5," supposed to be the autograph of the poet when a schoolboy.

<5> In the margin of the copy of 1647, against these lines is written--"COMEDIES: THE SPANISH CURATE, THE HUMOROUS LIEUTENANT, THE TAMER TAMED, THE LITTLE FRENCH LAWYER."

<6> Sewers.

<7> THE CUSTOME OF THE COUNTREY--Marginal note in the copy of 1647.

<8> Query, LAUD.

<9> These lines refer to the prohibition published by the Parliament against the performance of stage-plays and interludes. The first ordinance appeared in 1642, but that not being found effectual, a more stringent measure was enacted in 1647, directing, under the heaviest penalties, the total and immediate abolition of theatricals.

<10> i.e. The scenic drama. The original meaning of SCENE was a wooden stage for the representation of plays, &c., and it is here used therefore in its primitive sense.

<11> In the old mythology of Greece, Cupid is the pupil of Mercury or Hermes; or, in other words, LOVE is instructed by ELOQUENCE and WIT.


(The end)
Richard Lovelace's poem: To Fletcher Reviv'd

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