The best poem in F. T. Prince's Collected Poems is the first. Epistle to a Patron is addressed by a Leonardo-figure to a Renaissance prince, and in long intricately rhythmic lines and suggestive images, it lists his skills, his achievements, his claims to employment:
My Lord, hearing lately of your opulence in promises and your house
Busy with parasites, of your hands full of favours, your statutes
Admirable as music, and no fear of your arms not prospering, I have
Considered how to serve you and breed from my talents
These few secrets which I shall make plain
To your intelligent glory.
It is a magnificent opening, every phrase resonant, the language as skilfully wrought as the buildings the artist is so proud of designing:
Some are courts of serene stone,
Some the civil structures of a war-like elegance…
The poem is a kind of boast; the reader can see himself as the patron, and feel that he is somehow the recipient of this finely crafted language.
But will read on, I regret to say, into slowly mounting disappointment. For me, there is nothing in Prince's early work as good