Edmund Waller.

The poems of Edmund Waller; online

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NOTHING lies hid from radiant eyes ;

All they subdue become their spies.

Secrets, as choicest jewels, are

Presented to oblige the fair ;

No wonder, then, that a lost thought 5

Should there be found, where souls are caught.

The picture of fair Venus (that
For which men say the goddess sat)
Was lost, till Lely from your look
Again that glorious image took. IO

If Virtue's self were lost, we might
From your fair mind new copies write.
All things but one you can restore ;
The heart you get returns no more.



OF ENGLISH VERSE.

POETS may boast, as safely vain,
Their works shall with the world remain
Both, bound together, live or die,
The verses and the prophecy.

But who can hope his lines should long
Last in a daily changing tongue ?
While they are new, envy prevails ;
And as that dies, our language fails.



198 POEMS OF

When architects have done their part,

The matter may betray their art ; 10

Time, if we use ill-chosen stone,

Soon brings a well-built palace down.

Poets that lasting marble seek,

Must carve in Latin, or in Greek ;

We write in sand, our language grows, 15

And, like the tide, our work o'erflows.

Chaucer his sense can only boast ;

The glory of his numbers lost !

Years have defaced his matchless strain ;

And yet he did not sing in vain. 20

The beauties which adorned that age,
The shining subjects of his rage,
Hoping they should immortal prove,
Rewarded with success his love.

This was the generous poet's scope ; 25

And all an English pen can hope,
To make the fair approve his flame,
That can so far extend their fame.

Verse, thus designed, has no ill fate,

If it arrive but at the date 30

Of fading beauty ; if it prove

But as long-lived as present love.



EDMUND WALLER. 199



TO THE DUCHESS,

WHEN HE PRESENTED THIS BOOK TO HER ROYAL
HIGHNESS.

MADAM ! I here present you with the rage,

And with the beauties, of a former age ;

Wishing you may with as great pleasure view

This, as we take in gazing upon you.

Thus we writ then : your brighter eyes inspire 5

A nobler flame, and raise our genius higher.

While we your wit and early knowledge fear,

To our productions we become severe ;

Your matchless beauty gives our fancy wing,

Your judgment makes us careful how we sing. 10

Lines not composed, as heretofore, in haste,

Polished like marble, shall like marble last,

And make you through as many ages shine,

As Tasso has the heroes of your line.

Though other names our wary writers use, 15

You are the subject of the British muse ;
Dilating mischief to yourself unknown,
Men write, and die, of wounds they dare not own.
So the bright sun burns all our grass away,
While it means nothing but to give us day. 20



200 POEMS OF



TO THE DUCHESS OF ORLEANS,

WHEN SHE WAS TAKING LEAVE OF THE COURT
AT DOVER.

THAT sun of beauty did among us rise ;
England first saw the light of your fair eyes ;
In English, too, your early wit was shown ;
Favour that language, which was then your own,
When, though a child, through guards you made
your way ; 5

What fleet or army could an angel stay ?
Thrice happy Britain ! if she could retain
Whom she first bred within her ambient main.
Our late burned London, in apparel new,
Shook off her ashes to have treated you ; 10

But we must see our glory snatched away,
And with warm tears increase the guilty sea ;
No wind can favour us ; howe'er it blows,
We must be wrecked, and our dear treasure lose !
Sighs will not let us half our sorrows tell, 15

Fair, lovely, great, and best of nymphs, farewell !



EDMUND WALLER. 201

TO A FRIEND OF THE AUTHOR,

A PERSON OF HONOUR, WHO LATELY WRIT A
RELIGIOUS BOOK, ENTITLED, " HISTORICAL
APPLICATIONS, AND OCCASIONAL MEDITA-
TIONS, UPON SEVERAL SUBJECTS."

BOLD is the man that dares engage

For piety in such an age !

Who can presume to find a guard

From scorn, when Heaven's so little spared ?

Divines are pardoned ; they defend 5

Altars on which their lives depend ;

But the profane impatient are,

When nobler pens make this their care ;

For why should these let in a beam

Of divine light to trouble them, 10

And call in doubt their pleasing thought,

That none believes what we are taught ?

High birth, and fortune, warrant give

That such men write what they believe ;

And, feeling first what they indite, 15

New credit give to ancient light.

Amongst these few, our author brings

His well-known pedigree from kings.

This book, the image of his mind,

Will make his name not hard to find ; 20

I wish the throng of Great and Good

Made it less easily understood !



202 POEMS OF



OF HER ROYAL HIGHNESS, MOTHER TO
THE PRINCE OF ORANGE ;

AND OF HER PORTRAIT, WRITTEN BY THE LATE
DUCHESS OF YORK WHILE SHE LIVED WITH HER.

HEROIC nymph ! in tempests the support,

In peace the glory of the British court !

Into whose arms the church, the state, and all

That precious is, or sacred here, did fall.

Ages to come, that shall your bounty hear, 5

Will think you mistress of the Indies were ;

Though straiter bounds your fortunes did confine,

In your large heart was found a wealthy mine ;

Like the blest oil, the widow's lasting feast,

Your treasure, as you poured it out, increased. 10

While some your beauty, some your bounty sing,

Your native isle does with your praises ring ;

But, above all, a nymph of your own train

Gives us your character in such a strain,

As none but she, who in that court did dwell, 15

Could know such worth, or worth describe so well.

So while we mortals here at heaven do guess,

And more our weakness, than the place, express,

Some angel, a domestic there, comes down,

And tells the wonders he hath seen and known. 20



EDMUND WALLER. 203

ON THE STATUE OF KING CHARLES I.

AT CHARING CROSS.

THAT the First Charles does here in triumph ride,

See his son reign where he a martyr died,

And people pay that reverence as they pass,

(Which then he wanted !) to the sacred brass,

Is not the effect of gratitude alone, 5

To which we owe the statue and the stone ;

But Heaven this lasting monument has wrought,

That mortals may eternally be taught

Rebellion, though successful, is but vain,

And kings so killed rise conquerers again. 10

This truth the royal image does proclaim,

Loud as the trumpet of surviving Fame.



EPITAPH ON COLONEL CHARLES
CAVENDISH.

HERE lies Charles Ca'ndish : let the marble stone,
That hides his ashes, make his virtue known.
Beauty and valour did his short life grace,
The grief and glory of his noble race !
Early abroad he did the world survey,
As if he knew he had not long to stay ;
Saw what great Alexander in the East,
And mighty Julius conquered in the West ;



204 POEMS OF

Then, with a mind as great as theirs, he came

To find at home occasion for his fame ; 10

Where dark confusion did the nations hide,

And where the juster was the weaker side.

Two loyal brothers took their sovereign's part,

Employed their wealth, their courage, and their art ;

The elder did whole regiments afford ; 1 5

The younger brought his conduct and his sword.

Born to command, a leader he begun,

And on the rebels lasting honour won.

The horse, instructed by their general's worth,

Still made the King victorious in the north. 20

Where Ca'ndish fought, the Royalists prevailed ;

Neither his courage, nor his judgment, failed.

The current of his victories found no stop,

Till Cromwell came, his party's chiefest prop.

Equal success had set these champions high, 25

And both resolved to conquer or to die.

Virtue with rage, fury with valour strove ;

But that must fall which is decreed above !

Cromwell, with odds of number and of fate,

Removed this bulwark of the church and state ; 30

Which the sad issue of the war declared,

And made his task, to ruin both, less hard.

So when the bank, neglected, is o'erthrown,

The boundless torrent does the country drown.

Thus fell the young, the lovely, and the brave ; 35

Strew bays and flowers on his honoured grave !



EDMUND WALLER. 205



THE TRIPLE COMBAT.

WHEN through the world fair Mazarin had run,
Bright as her fellow-traveller, the sun,
Hither at length the Roman eagle flies,
As the last triumph of her conquering eyes.
As heir to Julius, she may pretend
A second time to make this nation 1 bend ;
But Portsmouth, springing from the ancient race
Of Britons, which the Saxon here did chase,
As they great Caesar did oppose, makes head,
And does against this new invader lead.
That goodly nymph, the taller of the two,
Careless and fearless to the field does go.
Becoming blushes on the other wait,
And her young look excuses want of height.
Beauty gives courage ; for she knows the day
Must not be won the Amazonian way.
Nor does her grace the better title want ;
Our law's indulgent to the occupant. 3
Legions of Beauties 3 to the battle come,
For Little Britain these, and those for Rome.

i. Tonson, island.

2. This couplet is not in Tonson's edition.

3. Tonson, Cupids.



206 POEMS OF

Dressed to advantage, this illustrious pair

Arrived, for combat in the list appear.

What may the Fates design ! for never yet

From distant regions two such beauties met.

Venus had been an equal friend to both, . 25

And victory to declare herself seems loth ;

Over the camp, with doubtful wings, she flies,

Till Chloris shining in the field she spies.

The lovely Chloris well-attended came,

A thousand Graces waited on the dame ; 30

Her matchless form made all the English glad,

And foreign beauties less assurance had ;

Yet, like the Three on Ida's top, they all

Pretend alike, contesting for the ball ;

Which to determine, Love himself declined, 35

Lest the neglected should become less kind.

Such killing looks ! so thick the arrows fly !

That 'tis unsafe to be a stander-by.

Poets, approaching to describe the fight,

Are by their wounds instructed how to write. 40

They with less hazard might look on, and draw

The ruder combats in Alsatia ;

And, with that foil of violence and rage,

Set off the splendour of our golden age ; 1

Where Love gives law, Beauty the sceptre sways, 45

And, uncompelled, the happy world obeys.



i. Bennet, the Golden Age.



EDMUND WALLER. 207



UPON OUR LATE LOSS OF THE DUKE OF
CAMBRIDGE.

THE failing blossoms which a young plant bears,

Engage our hope for the succeeding years ;

And hope is all which art or nature brings,

At the first trial, to accomplish things.

Mankind was first created an essay ; 5

That ruder draught the deluge washed away.

How many ages passed, what blood and toil,

Before we made one kingdom of this isle !

How long in vain had nature striven to frame

A perfect princess, ere her Highness came ! 10

For joys so great we must with patience wait ;

'Tis the set price of happiness complete.

As a first fruit, Heaven claimed that lovely boy ;

The next shall live, and be the nation's joy.



208 POEMS OF



OF THE LADY MARY, &c.

As once the lion honey gave,
Out of the strong such sweetness came ;
A royal hero, no less brave,
Produced this sweet, this lovely dame.

To her the prince, that did oppose 5

Such mighty armies in the field,
And Holland from prevailing foes
Could so well free, himself does yield.

Not Belgia's fleet (his high command)

Which triumphs where the sun does rise, 10

Nor all the force he leads by land,

Could guard him from her conquering eyes.

Orange, with youth, experience has ;

In action young, in council old ;

Orange is, what Augustus was, 1 5

Brave, wary, provident, and bold.

On that fair tree which bears his name,

Blossoms and fruit at once are found ;

In him we all admire the same,

His flowery youth with wisdom crowned ! 20



EDMUND WALLER. 209

Empire and freedom reconciled
In Holland are by great Nassau ;
Like those he sprung from, just and mild,
To willing people he gives law.

Thrice happy pair ! so near allied 25

In royal blood, and virtue too !
Now love has you together tied,
May none this triple knot undo !

The church shall be the happy place
Where streams, which from the same source run,
Though divers lands awhile they grace, [30

Unite again, and are made one.

A thousand thanks the nation owes

To him that does protect us all ;

For while he thus his niece bestows, 35

About our isle he builds a wall ;

A wall ! like that which Athens had,

By the oracle's advice, of wood ;

Had theirs been such as Charles has made,

That mighty state till now had stood. 40



210 POEMS OF



TO THE PRINCE OF ORANGE, 1677.

WELCOME, great Prince, unto this land,
Skilled in the arts of war and peace ;

Your birth does call you to command,
Your nature does incline to peace.

When Holland, by her foes oppressed 5

No longer could sustain their weight ;

To a native prince they thought it best
To recommend their dying state.

Your very name did France expel ;

Those conquered towns which lately cost 10

So little blood, unto you fell

With the same ease they once were lost.

'Twas not your force did them defeat ;

They neither felt your sword nor fire ;
But seemed willing to retreat, 15

And to your greatness did conspire.

Nor have you since ungrateful been,

When at Seneff you did expose,
And at Mount Cassal, your own men,

Whereby you might secure your foes. 20

Let Maestricht's siege enlarge your name,

And your retreat at Charleroy ;
Warriors by flying may gain fame,

And Parthian-like their foes destroy.



EDMUND WALLER. 211

Thus Fabius gained repute of old, 25

When Roman glory gasping lay ;
In council slow, in action cold,

His country saved, running away.

What better method could you take ?

When you by beauty's charms must move, 30
And must at once a progress make,

I' th' stratagems of war and love.

He that a princess' heart would gain,

Must learn submissively to yield ;
The stubborn ne'er their ends obtain ; 35

The vanquished masters are o' the field.

Go on, brave Prince, with like success,

Still to increase your hoped renown,
Till to your conduct and address,

Not to your birth, you owe a crown. 40

Proud Alva with the power of Spain

Could not the noble Dutch enslave ;
And wiser Parma strove in vain

For to reduce a race so brave.

They now those very armies pay, 45

By which they were forced to yield to you ;

Their ancient birthright they betray,
By their own votes you them subdue.

Who can then liberty maintain

When by such arts it is withstood? 50

Freedom to princes is a chain,

To all that spring from royal blood.



POEMS OF



ON THE DUKE OF MONMOUTH'S
EXPEDITION

INTO SCOTLAND IN THE SUMMER SOLSTICE, 1678.

SWIFT as Jove's messenger, the winged god,
With sword as potent as his charming rod,
He flew to execute the King's command,
And in a moment reached that northern land,
Where day contending with approaching night, 5
Assists the hero with continued light.

On foes surprised, and by no night concealed,
He might have rushed ; but noble pity held
His hand a while, and to their choice gave space,
Which they would prove, his valour or his grace. IO
This not well heard, his cannon louder spoke,
And then, like lightning, through that cloud he broke.
His fame, his conduct, and that martial look,
The guilty Scotch with such a terror strook,
That to his courage they resign the field, 15

Who to his bounty had refused to yield.
Glad that so little loyal blood it cost,
He grieves so many Britons should be lost ;
Taking more pains, when he beheld them yield,
To save the flyers, than to win the field ; 20

And at the Court his interest does 1 employ,

i. Bennet, did.



EDMUND WALLER. 213

That none, who 'scaped his fatal sword, should die.

And now, these rash bold men their error find,
Not trusting one beyond his promise kind ;
One ! whose great mind, so bountiful and brave, 25
Had learned the arts to conquer and to save.

In vulgar breasts no royal virtues dwell ;
Such deeds as these his high extraction tell,
And give a secret joy to him who reigns,
To see his blood triumph in Monmouth's veins ; 30
To see a leader whom he got and chose,
Firm to his friends, and fatal to his foes.

But seeing envy, like the sun, does beat,
With scorching rays, on all that's high and great,
This, ill-requited Monmouth ! is the bough 35

The Muses send to shade thy conquering brow.
Lampoons, like squibs, may make a present blaze ;
But time and thunder pay respect to bays.
Achilles' arms dazzle our present view,
Kept by the Muse as radiant and as new 40

As from the forge of Vulcan first they came ;
Thousands of years are past, and they the same ;
Such care she takes to pay desert with fame !
Than which no monarch, for his crown's defence,
Knows how to give a nobler recompense. 45

Covered with dust at one another thrown,
Mow can the lustre of their wit be shown ?
What Hector got for well defending Troy,
The Greeks did with the ruined town destroy.



2i 4 POEMS OF



UPON THE EARL OF ROSCOMMON'S
TRANSLATION OF HORACE,

" DE ARTE POETICA ; " AND OF THE USE OF
POETRY.

ROME was not better by her Horace taught,

Than we are here to comprehend his thought ;

The poet writ to noble Piso there ;

A noble Piso does instruct us here,

Gives us a pattern in his flowing style, 5

And with rich precepts does oblige our isle :

Britain ! whose genius is in verse expressed,

Bold and sublime, but negligently dressed.

Horace will our superfluous branches prune,
Give us new rules, and set our harps in tune ; 10

Direct us how to back the winged horse,
Favour his flight, and moderate his force.

Though poets may of inspiration boast,
Their rage, ill-governed, in the clouds is lost.
He that proportioned wonders can disclose, 15

At once his fancy and his judgment shows.
Chaste moral writing we may learn from hence,
Neglect of which no wit can recompense.



EDMUND WALLER. 215

The fountain which from Helicon proceeds,
That sacred stream ! should never water weeds, 20
Nor make the crop of thcrns and thistles grow,
Which envy or perverted nature sow.

Well-sounding verses are the charm we use,
Heroic thoughts and virtue to infuse ;
Things of deep sense we may in prose unfold, 25
But they move more in lofty numbers told.
By the loud trumpet, which our courage aids,
We learn that sound, as well as sense, persuades.

The Muses' friend, unto himself severe,
With silent pity looks en all that err ; 30

But where a brave, a public action shines,
That he rewards with his immortal lines.
Whether it be in council or in fight,
His country's honour is his chief delight ;
Praise of great acts he scatters as a seed, 35

Which may the like in coming ages breed.

Here taught the fate of verses (always prized
With admiration, or as much despised),
Men will be less indulgent to their faults,
And patience have to cultivate their thoughts. 40
Poets lose half the praise they should have got,
Could it be known what they discreetly blot ;
Finding new words, that to the ravished ear
May like the language of the gods appear,
Such as, of old, wise bards employed to make 45
Unpolished men their wild retreats forsake ;
Law -giving heroes, famed for taming brutes,



216 POEMS OF

And raising cities with their charming lutes ;

For rudest minds with harmony were caught,

And civil life was by the Muses taught. 50

So wandering bees would perish in the air,

Did not a sound, proportioned to their ear,

Appease their rage, invite them to the hive,

Unite their force, and teach them how to thrive,

To rob the flowers, and to forbear the spoil, 55

Preserved in winter by their summer's toil ;

They give us food, which may with nectar vie,

And wax, that does the absent sun supply.



THESE VERSES WERE WRIT IN THE
TASSO OF HER ROYAL HIGHNESS.

TASSO knew how the fairer sex to grace,
But in no one durst all perfection place.
In her alone that owns this book is seen
Clorinda's spirit, and her lofty mien,
Sophronia's piety, Erminia's truth, 5

Armida's charms, her beauty, and her youth.
Our princess here, as in a glass, does dress
Her well-taught mind, and every grace express.
More to our wonder than Rinaldo fought,
The hero's race excels the poet's thought. 10



EDMUND WALLER. 217



OF AN ELEGY MADE BY MRS. WHARTON
ON THE EARL OF ROCHESTER.

THUS mourn the Muses ! on the hearse
Not strewing tears, but lasting verse,
Which so preserve the hero's name,
They make him live again in fame.

Chloris, in lines so like his own, 5

Gives him so just and high renown,
That she the afflicted world relieves,
And shows that still in her he lives ;
Her wit as graceful, great, and good ;
Allied in genius, as in blood. 10

His loss supplied, now all our fears
Are, that the nymph should melt in tears.
Then, fairest Chloris ! comfort take,
For his, your own, and for our sake,
Lest his lair soul, that lives in you, 15

Should from the world for ever go.



218 POEMS OF



TO MR. CREECH,

ON HIS TRANSLATION OF "LUCRETIUS."

WHAT all men wished, though few could hope to see,

We are now blessed with, and obliged by thee.

Thou, from the ancient, learned Latin store,

Giv'st us one author, and we hope for more.

May they enjoy thy thoughts ! Let not the stage 5

The idlest moment of thy hours engage ;

Each year that place some wondrous monster breeds,

And the wit's garden is o'errun with weeds.

There, Farce is Comedy ; bombast called strong ;

Soft words, with nothing in them, make a song. 10

'Tis hard to say they steal them now-a-days ;

For sure the ancients never wrote such plays.

These scribbling insects have what they deserve,

Not plenty, nor the glory for to starve.

That Spenser knew, that Tasso felt before ; 1 5

And death found surly Ben exceeding poor.

Heaven turn the omen from their image here !

May he with joy the well-placed laurel wear !

Great Virgil's happier fortune may he find,

And be our Caesar, like Augustus, kind ! 20



EDMUND WALLER. 219

But let not this disturb thy tuneful head ;
Thou writ's! for thy delight, and not for bread ;
Thou art not cursed to write thy verse with care ;
But art above what other poets fear.
What may we not expect from such a hand, 25

That has, with books, himself at free command ?
Thou know'st in youth, what age has sought in vain ;
And bring'st forth sons without a mother's pain.
So easy is thy sense, thy verse so sweet,
Thy words so proper, and thy phrase so fit, 30

We read, and read again ; and still admire
Whence came this youth, and whence this wondrous
fire!

Pardon this rapture, sir ! but who can be
Cold, and unmoved, yet have his thoughts on thee ?
Thy goodness may my several faults forgive, 35

And by your help these wretched lines may live.
But if, when viewed by your severer sight,
They seem unworthy to behold the light,
Let them with speed in deserved flames be thrown !
They'll send no sighs, nor murmur out a groan ; 40
But, dying silently, your justice own.



220 POEMS OF

SUNG BY MRS. KNIGHT, TO HER MAJESTY,
ON HER BIRTHDAY.

THIS happy day two lights are seen,

A glorious saint, a matchless queen ;

Both named alike, both crowned appear,

The saint above, the Infanta here.

May all those years which Catherine 5

The martyr did for heaven resign,

Be added to the line

Of your blessed life among us here !

For all the pains that she did feel,

And all the torments of her wheel, 10

May you as many pleasures share !

May Heaven itself content

With Catherine the Saint !

Without appearing old,

An hundred times may you, 15

With eyes as bright as now,

This welcome day behold !



WRITTEN ON A CARD THAT HER
MAJESTY TORE AT OMBRE.

THE cards you tear in value rise ;
So do the wounded by your eyes.
Who to celestial things aspire,
Are by that passion raised the higher.



EDMUND WALLER.



TRANSLATED OUT OF SPANISH.

THOUGH we may seem importunate,
While your compassion we implore ;
They whom you make too fortunate,
May with presumption vex you more.



OF HER MAJESTY, ON NEW-YEAR'S DAY,
1683.

WHAT revolutions in the world have been,

How are we changed since we first saw the Queen !

She, like the sun, does still the same appear,

Bright as she was at her arrival here !

Time has commission mortals to impair, 5

But things celestial is obliged to spare.

May every new year find her still the same
In health and beauty as she hither came !
When Lords and Commons, with united voice,
The Infanta named, approved the royal choice ; 10
First of our queens whom not the King alone,
But the whole nation, lifted to the throne.

With like consent, and like desert, was crowned
The glorious Prince that does the Turk confound.
Victorious both ! his conduct wins the day, 15

And her example chases vice away ;


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