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This poem is taken from PN Review 8, Volume 5 Number 4, July - September 1979.

Three Poems Michael Vince

"It is sweet and cleanly to use, and it is a thing apart from all other painting or drawing." Nicholas Hilliard

Your own face on a few inches of vellum;
The elaboration of lovers and personal dynasties,
Kings, merchants, all who endow themselves
From another's eyes and by the skill of a hand;
You touch posterity, the minute and accurate;
Queens and children of queens, fastidious jewellery;
The costume of state and the gravity of possession;
Court ceremony, a chain at a favourite's neck,
A sword will fall there, your tiny images
Sail before to outpower time's armada.

You wrote of it: an exact art for gentlemen
With due precepts, and the first is cleanliness;
In act, the avoidance of anger in any wise,
The exclusion of questioners or busy fingers;
Welcome are discreet talk and quiet mirth,
...


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