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A poem by Richard Lovelace

Peinture. A Panegyrick To The Best Picture Of Friendship

Title:     Peinture. A Panegyrick To The Best Picture Of Friendship
Author: Richard Lovelace [More Titles by Lovelace]

Peinture. A Panegyrick to the best Picture of Friendship, Mr. Pet. Lilly.

If Pliny, Lord High Treasurer of all<1>
Natures exchequer shuffled in this our ball,<2>
Peinture her richer rival did admire,
And cry'd she wrought with more almighty fire,
That judg'd the unnumber'd issue of her scrowl,
Infinite and various as her mother soul,
That contemplation into matter brought,
Body'd Ideas, and could form a thought.
Why do I pause to couch the cataract,<3>
And the grosse pearls from our dull eyes abstract,
That, pow'rful Lilly, now awaken'd we
This new creation may behold by thee?

To thy victorious pencil all, that eyes
And minds call reach, do bow. The deities
Bold Poets first but feign'd, you do and make,
And from your awe they our devotion take.
Your beauteous pallet first defin'd Love's Queen,
And made her in her heav'nly colours seen;
You strung the bow of the Bandite her son,<4>
And tipp'd his arrowes with religion.
Neptune as unknown as his fish might dwell,
But that you seat him in his throne of shell.
The thunderers artillery and brand,
You fancied Rome in his fantastick hand;
And the pale frights, the pains, and fears of hell
First from your sullen melancholy fell.
Who cleft th' infernal dog's loath'd head in three,
And spun out Hydra's fifty necks? by thee
As prepossess'd w' enjoy th' Elizian plain,
Which but before was flatter'd<5> in our brain.
Who ere yet view'd airs child invisible,
A hollow voice, but in thy subtile skill?
Faint stamm'ring Eccho you so draw, that we
The very repercussion do see.
Cheat-HOCUS-POCUS-Nature an assay<6>
O' th' spring affords us: praesto, and away!<7>
You all the year do chain her and her fruits,
Roots to their beds, and flowers to their roots.
Have not mine eyes feasted i' th' frozen Zone
Upon a fresh new-grown collation
Of apples, unknown sweets, that seem'd to me
Hanging to tempt as on the fatal tree,
So delicately limn'd I vow'd to try
My<8> appetite impos'd upon my eye?<9>
You, sir, alone, fame, and all-conqu'ring rime,
File<10> the set teeth of all-devouring time.
When beauty once thy vertuous paint hath on,
Age needs not call her to vermilion;
Her beams nere shed or change like th' hair of day,<11>
She scatters fresh her everlasting ray.
Nay, from her ashes her fair virgin fire
Ascends, that doth new massacres conspire,
Whilst we wipe off the num'rous score of years,
And do behold our grandsire[s] as our peers;
With the first father of our house compare
We do the features of our new-born heir:
For though each coppied a son, they all
Meet in thy first and true original.
Sacred! luxurious! what princesse not
But comes to you to have her self begot?
As, when first man was kneaded, from his side
Is born to's hand a ready-made-up bride.
He husband to his issue then doth play,
And for more wives remove the obstructed way:
So by your art you spring up in two noons
What could not else be form'd by fifteen suns;
Thy skill doth an'mate the prolifick flood,
And thy red oyl assimilates to blood.
Where then, when all the world pays its respect,
Lies our transalpine barbarous neglect?
When the chast hands of pow'rful Titian
Had drawn the scourges of our God and man,
And now the top of th' altar did ascend
To crown the heav'nly piece with a bright end;
Whilst he, who in<12> seven languages gave law,
And always, like the Sun, his subjects saw,
Did, in his robes imperial and gold,
The basis of the doubtful ladder hold.
O Charls!<13> a nobler monument than that,
Which thou thine own executor wert at!
When to our huffling Henry<14> there complain'd
A grieved earl, that thought his honor stain'd:
Away (frown'd he), for your own safeties, hast!
In one cheap hour ten coronets I'l cast;
But Holbeen's noble and prodigious worth
Onely the pangs of an whole age brings forth.<15>
Henry! a word so princely saving said,
It might new raise the ruines thou hast made.
O sacred Peincture! that dost fairly draw,
What but in mists deep inward Poets saw;
'Twixt thee and an Intelligence no odds,<16>
That art of privy council to the gods!
By thee unto our eyes they do prefer
A stamp of their abstracted character;
Thou, that in frames eternity dost bind,
And art a written and a body'd mind;
To thee is ope the Juncto o' th' abysse,
And its conspiracy detected is;
Whilest their cabal thou to our sense dost show,
And in thy square paint'st what they threat below.
Now, my best Lilly, let's walk hand in hand,
And smile at this un-understanding land;
Let them their own dull counterfeits adore,
Their rainbow-cloaths admire, and no more.
Within one shade of thine more substance is,
Than all their varnish'd idol-mistresses:
Whilst great Vasari and Vermander shall
Interpret the deep mystery of all,
And I unto our modern Picts shall show,
What due renown to thy fair art they owe
In the delineated lives of those,
By whom this everlasting lawrel grows.
Then, if they will not gently apprehend,
Let one great blot give to their fame an end;
Whilst no poetick flower their herse doth dresse,
But perish they and their effigies.


<1> An allusion is, of course, intended to Pliny's NATURAL HISTORY which, through Holland's translation, became popular in England after 1601.

<2> i.e. in our globe.

<3> A term borrowed from the medical, or rather surgical, vocabulary. "To couch a cataract" (i.e. in the eye) is to remove it by surgical process.

<4> An allusion to Lely's pictures of Venus and Cupid.

<5> Falsely portrayed.

<6> A glimpse.

<7> Some picture by Lely, in which the painter introduced a spring landscape, is meant. The poet feigns the copy of Nature to be so close that one might suppose the Spring had set in before the usual time. The canvass is removed, and the illusion is dispelled. "Praesto, 'tis away," would be a preferable reading.

<8> i.e. if my appetite, &c. Lovelace's style is elliptical to an almost unexampled degree.

<9> The same story, with variations, has been told over and over again since the time of Zeuxis.

<10> Original edition has FILES.

<11> HAIR is here used in what has become quite an obsolete sense. The meaning is outward form, nature, or character. The word used to be by no means uncommon; but it is now, as was before remarked, out of fashion; and, indeed, I do not think that it is found even in any old writer used exactly in the way in which Lovelace has employed it.

<12> Original reads TO.

<13> Charles V.

<14> Henry VIII.

<15> A story too well known to require repetition. The Earl is not mentioned.--See Walpole's ANECDOTES OF PAINTING, ed. 1862, p.71.

<16> i.e. no difference. A compliment to Lely's spirituality.

[The end]
Richard Lovelace's poem: Peinture. A Panegyrick To The Best Picture Of Friendship