Edmund Waller.

The poems of Edmund Waller; online

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The bar by turns, and none the rest outgo 20

So far, but that the best are measuring casts,
Their emulation and their pastime lasts ;
But if some brawny yeoman of the guard
Step in, and toss the axletree a yard,
Or more, beyond the furthest mark, the rest 25

Despairing stand, their sport is at the best.




WHEN as of old the earth's bold children strove,

With hills on hills, to scale the throne of Jove,

Pallas and Mars stood by their sovereign's side,

And their bright arms in his defence employed ;

While the wise Phoebus, Hermes, and the rest, 5

Who joy in peace, and love the Muses best,

Descending from their so distempered seat,

Our groves and meadows chose for their retreat

There first Apollo tried the various use

Of herbs, and learned the virtues of their juice, 10

And framed that art, to which who can pretend

A juster title than our noble friend?

Whom the like tempest drives from his abode,

And like employment entertains abroad.

This crowns him here, and in the bays so earned, 15

His country's honour is no less concerned,

Since it appears not all the English rave,

To ruin bent ; some study how to save ;

And as Hippocrates did once extend

His sacred art, whole cities to amend ; 20

So we, great friend ! suppose that thy great skill,

Thy gentle mind, and fair example, will,

At thy return, reclaim our frantic isle,

Their spirits calm, and peace again shall smile.


DAY, 1650.


MADAM ! new years may well expect to find
Welcome from you, to whom they are so kind ;
Still as they pass, they court and smile on you,
And make your beauty, as themselves, seem new.
To the fair Villiers we Dalkeith prefer, 1 5

And fairest Morton now as much to her ;
So like the sun's advance your titles show,
Which as he rises does the warmer grow.

But thus to style you fair, your sex's praise,
Gives you but myrtle, who may challenge bays ; 10
From armed foes to bring a royal prize,
Shows your brave heart victorious as your eyes.
If Judith, marching with the general's head,
Can give us passion when her story's read,
What may the living do, which brought away, 15
Though a less bloody, yet a nobler prey ;
Who from our flaming Troy, .with a bold hand,
Snatched her fair charge, the Princess, like a brand ?
A brand ! preserved to warm some prince's heart,
And make whole kingdoms take her brother's part.


i. 1682, did prefer.


So Venus, from prevailing Greeks, did shroud
The hope of Rome, and save him in a cloud.

This gallant act may cancel all our rage,
Begin a better, and absolve this age.
Dark shades become the portrait of our time ; 25
Here weeps Misfortune, and their triumphs Crime !
Let him that draws it hide the rest in night ;
This portion only may endure the light,
Where the kind nymph, changing her faultless shape,
Becomes unhandsome, handsomely to 'scape, 30

When through the guards, the river, and the sea,
Faith, beauty, wit, and courage, made their way.
As the brave eagle does with sorrow see
The forest wasted, and that lofty tree
Which holds her nest about to be o'erthrown, 35
Before the feathers of her young are grown,
She will not leave them, nor she cannot stay,
But bears them boldly on her wings away ;
So fled the dame, and o'er the ocean bore
Her princely burthen to the Gallic shore. 40

Born in the storms of war, this royal fair,
Produced like lightning in tempestuous air,
Though now she flies her native isle (less kind,
Less safe for her than either sea or wind !)
Shall, when the blossom of her beauty's blown, 45
See her great brother on the British throne ;
Where peace shall smile, and no dispute arise,
But which rules most, his sceptre, or her eyes.



Written in France.

THUS the wise nightingale that leaves her home,
Her native wood, when storms and winter come,
Pursuing constantly the cheerful spring,
To foreign groves does her old music bring.

The drooping Hebrews' banished harps, unstrung
At Babylon upon the willows hung ; [5

Yours sounds aloud, and tells us you excel
No less in courage, than in singing well ;
Whilst, unconcerned, you let your country know,
They have impoverished themselves, not you ; 10
Who, with the Muses' help, can mock those fates
Which threaten kingdoms, and disorder states.
So Ovid, when from Caesar's rage he fled,
The Roman Muse to Pontus with him led ;
Where he so sung, that we, through pity's glass, 15
See Nero milder than Augustus was.
Hereafter such, in thy behalf, shall be
The indulgent censure of posterity.
To banish those who with such art can sing,
Is a rude crime, which its own curse does bring ; 20


Ages to come shall ne'er know how they fought,
Nor how to love their present youth be taught.
This to thyself. Now to thy matchless book,
Wherein those few that can with judgment look,
May find old love in pure fresh language told, 25
Like new-stamped coin made out of Angel gold ;
Such truth in love as the antique world did know,
In such a style as courts may boast of now ;
Which no bold tales of gods or monsters swell,
But human passions, such as with us dwell. 30

Man is thy theme ; his virtue, or his rage,
Drawn to the life in each elaborate page.
Mars, nor Bellona, are not named here,
But such a Gondibert as both might fear ;
Venus had here, and Hebe been outshined 35

By thy bright Birtha and thy Rodalind.
Such is thy happy skill, and such the odds
Betwixt thy worthies and the Grecian gods !
Whose deities in vain had here come down,
Where mortal beauty wears the sovereign crown ; 40
Such as of flesh composed, by flesh and blood,
Though not resisted, may be understood.




WHILE with a strong and yet a gentle hand,
You bridle faction, and our hearts command,
Protect us from ourselves, and from the foe,
Make us unite, and make us conquer too ;

Let partial spirits still aloud complain, 5

Think themselves injured that they cannot reign,
And own no liberty but where they may
Without control upon their fellows prey.

Above the waves as Neptune showed his face,
To chide the winds, and save the Trojan race, 10
So has your Highness, raised above the rest,
Storms of ambition, tossing us, repressed.

Your drooping country, torn with civil hate,
Restored by you, is made a glorious state ;
The seat of empire, where the Irish come, 1 5

And the unwilling Scotch, to fetch their doom.

The sea's our own ; and now all nations greet,

With bending sails, each vessel of our fleet ;

Your power extends as far as winds can blow,

Or swelling sails upon the globe may go. 20


Heaven, (that has placed this island to give law,
To balance Europe, and her states to awe)
In this conjunction does on Britain smile ;
The greatest leader, and the greatest isle !

Whether this portion of the world were rent, 25

By the rude ocean, from the continent ;
Or thus created ; it was sure designed
To be the sacred refuge of mankind.

Hither the oppressed shall henceforth resort,
Justice to crave, and succour, at your court ; 30

And then your Highness, not for ours alone,
But for the world's protector shall be known.

Fame, swifter than your winged navy, flies
Through every land that near the ocean lies,
Sounding your name, and telling dreadful news 35
To all that piracy and rapine use.

With such a chief the meanest nation blessed,

Might hope to lift her head above the rest ;

What may be thought impossible to do

For l us, embraced by the sea and you ? 40

Lords of the world's great waste, the ocean, we
Whole forests send to reign upon the sea,
And every coast may trouble, or relieve ;
But none can visit us without your leave.

i. Quarto, By.


Angels and we have this prerogative, 45

That none can at our happy seat l arrive ;
While we descend at pleasure, to invade
The bad with vengeance, and the good to aid.

Our little world, the image of the great,
Like that, amidst the boundless ocean set, 50

Of her own growth has all that Nature craves ;
And all that's rare, as tribute from the waves.

As Egypt does not on the clouds rely,

But to her " Nile owes more than to the sky ;

So what our earth, and what our heaven, denies, 55

Our ever constant friend, the sea, supplies.

The taste of hot Arabia's spice we know,

Free from the scorching sun that makes it grow ;

Without the worm, in Persian silks we shine ;

And, without planting, drink of every vine. 60

To dig for wealth we weary not our limbs ;
Gold, though the heaviest metal, hither swims ;
Ours is the harvest where the Indians mow ;
We plough the deep, and reap what others sow.

Things of the noblest kind our own soil breeds ; 65
Stout are our men, and warlike are our steeds ;
Rome, though her eagle through the world had flown,
Could never make this island all her own.

i. -Quarto, seas. 2. Quarto, the.


Here the Third Edward, and the Black Prince, too,
France- conquering Henry flourished, and now you ;
For whom we stayed, as did the Grecian l state, [70
Till Alexander came to urge their fate.

When for more worlds the Macedonian cried,

He wist not Thetis in her lap did hide

Another yet ; a world reserved for you, 75

To make more great than that he did subdue.

He safely might old troops to battle lead,
Against the unwarlike-Persian, 2 and the Mede,
Whose hasty flight did, from a bloodless field,
More spoil than honour to the victor yield. 80

A race unconquered, by their clime made bold,
The Caledonians, armed with want and cold,
Have, by a fate indulgent to your fame, 3
Been from all ages kept for you to tame.

Whom the old Roman wall so ill confined, 85

With a new chain of garrisons you bind ;
Here foreign gold no more shall make them come ;
Our English iron holds them fast at home.

They, that henceforth must be content to know
No warmer region than their hills of snow, 90

May blame the sun, but must extol your grace,
Which in our senate has allowed them place.

i. Quarto, Trojan. a. Quarto, Persians.

3. Quarto, name.


Preferred by conquest, happily o'erthrown, 1
Falling they 2 rise, to be with us made one ;
So kind dictators made, when they came home, 95
Their vanquished foes free citizens of Rome.

Like favour find the Irish, with like fate,
Advanced to be a portion of our state ;
While by your valour and your courteous 3 mind,
Nations, divided by the sea, are joined. joo

Holland, to gain your friendship, is content
To be our outguard on the continent ;
She from her fellow-provinces would go,
Rather than hazard to have you her foe.

In our late fight, when cannons did diffuse, 105

Preventing posts, the terror and the news,
Our neighbour princes trembled at their roar ;
But our conjunction makes them tremble more.

Your never-failing sword made war to cease ;
And now you heal us with the arts 4 of peace ; no
Our minds with bounty and with awe engage,
Invite affection, and restrain our rage.

Less pleasure take brave minds in battles won,
Than in restoring such as are undone ;
Tigers have courage, and the rugged bear, 115

But man alone can, whom he conquers, spare.

i. Quarto, overthrown. 2. Quarto, you.

3. Quarto, bounteous. 4. Quarto, acts.


To pardon willing, and to punish loath,

You strike with one hand, but you heal with both ;

Lifting up all that prostrate lie, you grieve

You cannot make the dead again to live. 120

When fate, or error, had our age misled,
And o'er these nations 1 such confusion spread,
The only cure, which could from Heaven come down,
Was so much power and clemency 2 in one !

One ! whose extraction from an ancient line 1 25

Gives hope again that well-born men may shine ;
The meanest in your nature, mild and good,
The noble rest secured in your blood.

Oft have we wondered how you hid in peace

A mind 3 proportioned to such things as these ; 130

How such a ruling spirit you could restrain,

And practise first over yourself to reign.

Your private life did a just pattern give,
How fathers, husbands, pious sons should live ;
Born to command, your princely virtues slept, 135
Like humble David's, while the flock he kept.

But when your troubled country called you forth,
Your flaming courage, and your matchless worth,
Dazzling the eyes of all that did pretend,
To fierce contention gave a prosperous end. 140

i. Quarto, this nation. i. Quarto,//'*/)'.

3. Quarto, Amid.


Still as you rise, the state, exalted too,

Finds no distemper while 'tis changed by you ;

Changed like the world's great scene ! when, without

The rising sun night's vulgar lights destroys.

Had you, some ages past, this race of glory 145

Run, with amazement we should read your story ;
But living virtue, all achievements past,
Meets envy still, to grapple with at last.

This Caesar found ; and that ungrateful age,

With losing him fell 1 back to blood and rage ; 150

Mistaken Brutus thought to break their yoke,

But cut the bond of union with that stroke.

That sun once set, a thousand meaner stars

Gave a dim light to violence, and wars,

To such a tempest as now threatens all, 155

Did not your mighty arm prevent the fall.

If Rome's great senate could not wield that sword,
Which of the conquered world had made them lord,
What hope had ours, while yet their power was new,
To rule victorious armies, but by you ? 1 60

You ! that had taught them to subdue their foes,
Could order teach, and their high spirits compose ;
To every duty could their minds engage,
Provoke their courage, and command their rage.

i. Quarto, went.


So when a lion shakes his dreadful mane, 165

And angry grows, if he that first took pain
To tame his youth approach the haughty beast,
He bends to him, but frights away the rest.

As the vexed world, to find repose, at last
Itself into Augustus' arms did cast ; 170

So England now does, with like toil oppressed,
Her weary head upon your bosom rest.

Then let the Muses, with such notes as these,
Instruct us what belongs unto our peace ;
Your battles they hereafter shall indite, 175

And draw the image of our Mars in fight ;

Tell of towns stormed, of armies overrun, 1
And 2 mighty kingdoms by your conduct won ;
How, while you thundered, clouds of dust did choke
Contending troops, and seas lay hid in smoke. 180

Illustrious acts high raptures do infuse,

And every conqueror creates a muse.

Here, in low strains, your milder deeds we sing ;

But there, my lord ; we'll bays and olive bring

To crown your head ; while you in triumph ride 185
O'er vanquished nations, and the sea beside ;
While all your neighbour-princes unto you,
Like Joseph's sheaves, pay reverence, and bow.

i. Quarto, overcome. a. Quarto, Of.





THUS, by the music, we may know
When noble wits a-hunting go,
Through groves that on Parnassus grow.

The Muses all the chase adorn ;
My friend on Pegasus is borne ;
And young Apollo winds the horn.

Having old Gratius in the wind,
No pack of critics e'er could find,
Or he know more of his own mind.

Here huntsmen with delight may read i<

How to choose dogs for scent or speed,
And how to change or 1 mend the breed ;

What arms to use, or nets to frame,

Wild beasts to combat or to tame ;

With all the mysteries of that game. I

i. i6s4t and.


But, worthy friend ! the face of war
In ancient times doth differ far
From what our fiery battles are.

Nor is it like, since powder known,

That man, so cruel to his own, 20

Should spare the race of beasts alone

No quarter now, but with the gun
Men wait in trees from sun to sun,
And all is in a moment done.

And therefore we expect your next 25

Should be no comment, but a text
To tell how modern beasts are vexed.

Thus would I further yet engage

Your gentle Muse to court the age

With somewhat of your proper rage ; 30

Since none does more to Phoebus owe,
Or in more languages can show
Those arts which you so early know.

L 2



FLORIBUS Angligenis non hanc tibi necto corollam,

Cum satis indigenis te probet ipse Liber :

Per me Roma sciet tibi se debere, quod Anglo

Romanus didicit cultius ore loqui.

Ultima quse tellus Aquilas duce Csesare vidit, 5

Candida Romulidum te duce scripta videt.

Consilio ut quondam Patriam nil juveris, esto !

Sed studio cives ingenioque juvas.

Namque dolis liber hie instructus, et arte Batava,

A Belga nobis ut caveamus, ait. 10

Horremus per te civilis dira furoris

Vulnera ; discordes Flandria quassa monet.

Hie discat miles pugnare, orare senator ;

Qui regnant, leni sceptra tenere manu.

Macte, Comes ! virtute nova, vestri ordinis ingens 15

Ornamentum, sevi deliciseque tui !

Dum stertunt alii somno vinoque sepulti,

Nobilis antiquo stemmate digna facis.




THAT chance and atoms make this all
In order democratical,
Where bodies freely run their course,
Without design, or fate, or force,
In English verse Lucretius sings, 5

As if with Pegasean wings,
He soared beyond our utmost sphere
And other worlds discovered there ;
His boundless and unruly wit,
To Nature does no bounds permit ; IO

But boldly has removed those bars
Of heaven and earth and seas and stars,
By which she was before supposed,
By moderate wits, to be enclosed,
Till his free muse threw down the pale, 15

And did at once dispark them all.
So vast this argument did seem,
That the wise author did esteem
The Roman language (which was spread
O'er the whole world, in triumph led) ao


Too weak, too narrow to unfold

The wonders which he would have told.

This speaks thy glory, noble friend !

And British language does commend ;

For here Lucretius whole we find, 25

His words, his music, and his mind.

Thy art has to our country brought

All that he writ, and all he thought.

Ovid translated, Virgil too,

Showed long since what our tongues could do ; 30

Nor Lucan we, nor Horace spared ;

Only Lucretius was too hard.

Lucretius, like a fort, did stand '

Untouched, till your victorious hand

Did from his head this garland bear, 35

Which now upon your own you wear ;

A garland ! made of such new bays,

And sought in such untrodden ways,

As no man's temples e'er did crown,

Save this great author's, and your own ! 40



Now, for some ages, had the pride of Spain
Made the sun shine on half the world in vain ;
While she bid war to all that durst supply
The place of those her cruelty made die.
Of nature's bounty men forebore to taste, 5

And the best portion of the earth lay waste,
From the new world her silver and her gold
Came, like a tempest, to confound the old ;
Feeding with these the bribed Electors' hopes,
Alone she gave us emperors and popes ; a 10

With these accomplishing her vast designs,-
Europe was shaken with her Indian mines.

When Britain, looking with a just disdain 3
Upon this gilded majesty of Spain,
And knowing well that empire must decline, 15

Whose chief support and sinews are of coin,
Our nation's solid virtue 4 did oppose
To the rich troublers of the world's repose.

And now some months, encamping on the main,

i. She madt at pleasure Emperors and Popes. MS. in a
copy of the edition of 1664 that belonged to Col. Cunningham.
(See Notes and Queries, 3rd series, ix. 192.) This and the preced-
ing line do not occur in the folio.

i. With thfse advancing her unjust designs. Col. Cunning-
ham's copy.

3.- - Whtn our Protector looking -with disdain. Ibid.

+.Her native force and virtue, folio.


Our naval army had besieged Spain ; 20

They that the whole world's monarchy designed,
Are to their ports by our bold fleet confined ;
From whence our Red Cross they triumphant see,
Riding without a rival on the sea.

Others may use the ocean as their road, 25

Only the English make it their abode,
Whose ready sails with every wind can fly,
And make a covenant with the inconstant sky ; ]
Our oaks secure, as if they there took root,
We tread on billows with a steady foot. 30

Meanwhile the Spaniards in America,
Near to the line the sun approaching saw,
And hoped their European coasts to find
Cleared from our ships by the autumnal wind ;
Their huge capacious galleons stuffed with plate, 35
The labouring winds drive slowly towards their fate.
Before St. Lucar they their guns discharge,
To tell their joy, or to invite 2 a barge ;
This heard some ships of ours, (though out of view)
And, swift as eagles, to the quarry flew ; 40

So heedless lambs, which for their mothers bleat,
Wake hungry lions, and become their meat.

Arrived, they soon begin that tragic play,
And with their smoky cannons banish day ;
Night, horror, slaughter, with confusion meets, 45
And in their sable arms embrace the fleets.

j. This and the preceding line do not occur in the folio.
2. Folio, calljorth.


Through yielding planks the angry bullets fly,

And, of one wound, hundreds together die ;

Born under different stars one fate they have,

The ship their coffin, and the sea their grave ! 50

Bold were the men which 1 on the ocean first

Spread their new sails, when shipwreck was the

worst ;

More danger now from man alone we find
Than from the rocks, the billows, or the wind.
They that had sailed from near the Antarctic Pole, 55
Their treasure safe, and all their vessels whole,
In sight of their dear country ruined be,
Without the guilt of either rock or sea !
What they would spare, our fiercer art destroys,
Surpassing storms in terror and in noise. 60

Once Jove from Ida did both hosts survey,
And, when he pleased to thunder, part the fray ;
Here, heaven 2 in vain that kind retreat should sound,
The louder cannon had the thunder drowned.
Some, we made prize ; while others, burned and

rent, 65

With their rich lading to the bottom went ;
Down sinks at once (so Fortune with us sports !)
The pay of armies, and the pride of courts.
Vain man ! whose rage buries as low that store,
As avarice had digged for it before ; 70

What earth, in her dark bowels, could not keep

i. Folio, who. a. Folio, Heaven htrt.


From greedy hands, lies safer in the deep,
Where Thetis kindly does from mortals hide
Those seeds of luxury, debate, and pride.

And now, into her lap the richest prize 75

Fell, with the noblest of our enemies ;
The Marquis (glad to see the fire destroy
Wealth that prevailing foes were to enjoy)
Out from his flaming ship his children sent,
To perish in a milder element ; 80

Then laid him by his burning lady's side,
And, since he could not save her, with her died.
Spices and gums about them melting fry,
And, phrenix-like, in that rich nest they die ; J
Alive, in flames of equal love they burned, 85

And now together are to ashes turned ;
Ashes ! more worth than all their funeral cost,
Than the huge treasure which was with them lost. 2

i. In Col. Cunningham's copy, after this line, the following
passage occurs :

Death bitter is for what we leave behind,
But taking with us all we have is kind.
What cortld he more than hold for term of life,
His Indian treasures and more precious wife ?

Alive, &*c lost.

Fair Venus wept, her tender hands she wrung.
That love should perish whence herself was sprung.
Her son endeavouring their lives to save,
Drenched all his feathered arroius in the wave :
Since when so slow, and so unsure they move,
That never more we may expect such love.

2. The poem ends with this line in the folio.


These dying lovers, and their floating sons,

Suspend the fight, and silence all our guns ; 90

Beauty and youth about to perish, finds

Such noble pity in brave English minds,

That (the rich spoil forgot, their valour's prize)

All labour now to save their enemies.

How frail our passions ! how soon changed are 95

Our wrath and fury to a friendly care !

They that but now for honour, and for plate,

Made the sea blush with blood, resign their hate ;

And, their young foes endeavouring to retrieve,

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Online LibraryEdmund WallerThe poems of Edmund Waller; → online text (page 11 of 21)