Thursday, March 07, 2013

John Lewin's Platypus - 1808

From a collection at State Library of NSW's Pictures and Manuscripts 
The convict poet John Grant wrote: 
Verses written to Lewin, the Entomologist. 1805.

Nature! there dwells in these Australian Lands
Thy faithful Copyist whose Art expands
Thy novel Beauties o'er our ancient Globe
Who to far distant climes thy Charms derobe.

Modest, laborious, steady in his Plan,
I view, admire and venerate the Man.
And, lest Neglect a tender Genius blight,
Cheer Muse! His Patience; usher him to light!

Lewin: rare, beauteous Plant in Genius Vale!
Painter! Engraver! Nature's wooer! Hail!
Courage! Thy Labours consecrate thy Fame;
Ages to come shall venerate thy Name.

When thy productions, European eyes
Gaze on; and Nature, struck with glad surprise:
We think she blossoms but at Lewin's will
Thine imitations mark such wond'rous skill!

Touch'd with delight; involuntary thought
Rebounds to England where, thy labours sought,
Her sons unanimous shall Tribute pay
Thee: wanderer, searching Nature's thorny way.

Grant submitted this poem to Governor King who edited the Sydney Gazette; but he returned it with the comment: "It is very pretty, but the piece is too pointed for the very dull-witted society in New South Wales."

Grant also wrote these lines about his friend John Lewin:

Whether thine Hand delineating, draw
Insect or Bird or crimson Warrataw,
In each, in all, thine Art we can forgive
When things inanimate appear to live.

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