Edmund Waller.

The poems of Edmund Waller; online

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Though louder fame attend the martial rage,
'Tis greater glory to reform the age.



POEMS OF



OF TEA, COMMENDED BY HER MAJESTY.

VENUS her myrtle, Phoebus has his bays ;

Tea both excels, which she vouchsafes to praise.

The best of queens, and best of herbs, we owe

To that bold nation which the way did show

To the fair region where the sun does rise,

Whose rich productions we so justly prize.

The Muse's friend, tea does our fancy aid,

Repress those vapours which the head invade,

And keeps that palace of the soul serene,

Fit on her birth-day to salute the Queen. ic



EDMUND WALLER. 223



PROLOGUE FOR THE LAD Y- ACTORS :

SPOKEN BEFORE KING CHARLES II.

AMAZE us not with that majestic frown,

But lay aside the greatness of your crown !

For your diversion here we act in jest,

But when we act ourselves we do our best.

You have a look which does your people awe, 5

When in your throne and robes you give them law,

I^ay it by here, and use a gentler smile !

Such as we see great Jove's in picture, while

He listens to Apollo's charming lyre,

Or judges of the songs he does inspire. 10

Comedians on the stage show all their skill,

And after do as Love and Fortune will.

We are less careful, hid in this disguise ;

In our own clothes more serious and more wise.

Modest at home, upon the stage more bold, 15

We seem warm lovers, though our breasts be cold ;

A fault committed here deserves no scorn,

If we act well the parts to which we're born.



224 POEMS OF



PROLOGUE TO THE ''MAID'S TRAGEDY."

SCARCE should we have the boldness to pretend

So long renowned a tragedy to mend,

Had not already some deserved your praise

With like attempt. Of all our elder plays

This and Philaster have the loudest fame ; 5

Great are their faults, and glorious is their flame.

In both our English genius is expressed ;

Lofty and bold, but negligently dressed.

Above our neighbours our conceptions are ;
But faultless writing is the effect of care. 10

Our lines reformed, and not composed in haste,
Polished like marble, would like marble last.
But as the present, so the last age writ ;
In both we find like negligence and wit.
Were we but less indulgent to our faults, 15

And patience had to cultivate our thoughts,
Our Muse would flourish, and a nobler rage
Would honour this than did the Grecian stage.

Thus says our author, not content to see
That others write as carelessly as he ; 20

Though he pretends not to make things complete,
Yet, to please you, he'd have the poets sweat.



EDMUND WALLER. 225

In this old play, what's new we have expressed
In rhyming verse, distinguished from the rest ;
That as the Rhone his hasty way does make 25

(Not mingling waters) through Geneva's lake,
So having here the different styles in view,
You may compare the former with the new.

If we less rudely shall the knot untie,
Soften the rigour of the tragedy, 30

And yet preserve each person's character,
Then to the other this you may prefer.
'Tis left to you : the boxes, and the pit,
Are sovereign judges of this sort of wit.
In other things the knowing artist may 35

Judge better than the people ; but a play,
(Made for delight, and for no other use)
If you approve it not, has no excuse.



226 POEMS OF



EPILOGUE TO THE "MAID'S TRAGEDY."

SPOKEN BY THE KING.

THE fierce Melantius was content, you see,

The king should live ; be not more fierce than he ;

Too long indulgent to so rude a time,

When love was held so capital a crime,

That a crowned head could no compassion find, 5

But died because the killer had been kind !

Nor is't less strange, such mighty wits as those

Should use a style in tragedy like prose.

Well -sounding verse, where princes tread the stage,

Should speak their virtue, or describe their rage. 10

By the loud trumpet, which our courage aids,

We learn that sound, as well as sense, persuades ;

And verses are the potent charms we use,

Heroic thoughts and virtue to infuse.

When next we act this tragedy again, 1 5

Unless you like the change, we shall be slain.
The innocent Aspasia's life or death,
Amintor's too, depends upon your breath.
Excess of love was heretofore the cause ;
Now if we die, 'tis want of your applause. 20



EDMUND WALLER. 227



EPILOGUE TO THE "MAID'S TRAGEDY."

DESIGNED UPON THE FIRST ALTERATION OF THE
PLAY, WHEN THE KING ONLY WAS LEFT ALIVE.

ASPASIA Heeding on the stage does lie,

To show you still 'tis the Afaitfs Tragedy.

The fierce Melantius was content, you see,

The king should live ; be not more fierce than he ;

Too long indulgent to so rude a time, 5

When love was held so capital a crime,

That a crowned head could no compassion find,

But died because the killer had been kind !

This better-naturecl poet had reprieved

Gentle Amintor too, had he believed 10

The fairer sex his pardon could approve,

Who to ambition sacrificed his love.

Aspasia he has spared ; but for her wound

(Neglected love !) there could no salve be found.

When next we act this tragedy again, 15

Unless you like the change, I must be slain.
Excess of love was heretofore the cause ;
Now if I die, 'tis want of your applause.



Q 2



228 POEMS OF



OF THE INVASION AND DEFEAT OF THE
TURKS, IN THE YEAR 1683.

THE modern Nimrod, with a safe delight
Pursuing beasts, that save themselves by flight,
Grown proud, and weary of his wonted game,
Would Christians chase, and sacrifice to fame.

A prince with eunuchs and the softer sex 5

Shut up so long, would warlike nations vex,
Provoke the German, and, neglecting heaven,
Forget the truce for which his oath was given.

His Grand Vizier, presuming to invest
The chief imperial city of the west, IO

With the first charge compelled in haste to rise,
His treasure, tents, and cannon, left a prize ;
The standard lost, and janizaries slain,
Render the hopes he gave his master vain.
The flying Turks, that bring these tidings home, 15
Renew the memory of his father's doom ;
And his guard murmurs, that so often brings
Down from the throne their unsuccessful kings.

The trembling Sultan's forced to expiate
His own ill-conduct by another's fate. 20

The Grand Vizier, a tyrant, though a slave,



EDMUND WALLER. 229

A fair example to his master gave ;

He Bassa's head, to save his own, made fly,

And now, the Sultan to preserve, must die.

The fatal bowstring was not in his thought, 25

When, breaking truce, he so unjustly fought ;
Made the world tremble with a numerous host,
And of undoubted victory did boast.
Strangled he lies ! yet seems to cry aloud,
To warn the mighty, and instruct the proud, 30

That of the great, neglecting to be just,
Heaven in a moment makes an heap of dust.

The Turks so low, why should the Christians lose
Such an advantage of their barbarous foes ?
Neglect their present ruin to complete, 35

Before another Solyman they get ?
Too late they would with shame, repenting, dread
That numerous herd, by such a lion led ;
He Rhodes and Buda from the Christians tore,
Which timely union might again restore. 40

But, sparing Turks, as if with rage possessed,
The Christians perish, by themselves oppressed ;
Cities and provinces so dearly won,
That the victorious people are undone !

What angel shall descend to reconcile 45

The Christian states, and end their guilty toil?
A prince more fit from heaven we cannot ask
Than Britain's king, for such a glorious task ;
His dreadful navy, and his lovely mind,
Give him the fear and favour of mankind ; 50



230 POEMS OF

His warrant does the Christian faith defend ;

On that relying, all their quarrels end.

The peace is signed, and Britain does obtain

What Rome had sought from her fierce sons in vain.

In battles won Fortune a part doth claim, 55

And soldiers have their portion in the fame ;
In this successful union we find
Only the triumph of a worthy mind.
'Tis all accomplished by his royal word,
Without unsheathing the destructive sword ; 60

Without a tax upon his subjects laid,
Their peace disturbed, their plenty, or their trade.
And what can they to such a prince deny,
With whose desires the greatest kings comply ?

The arts of peace are not to him unknown ; 65

This happy way he marched into the throne ;
And we owe more to heaven than to the sword,
The wished return of so benign a lord.

Charles ! by old Greece with a new freedom graced.
Above her antique heroes shall be placed. 70

What Theseus did, or Theban Hercules,
Holds no compare with this victorious peace,
Which on the Turks shall greater honour gain,
Than all their giants and their monsters slain :
Those are bold tales, in fabulous ages told ; 75

This glorious act the living do behold.



EDMUND WALLER. 231



A PRESAGE OF THE RUIN OF THE
TURKISH EMPIRE.

PRESENTED TO HIS MAJESTY ON HIS BIRTHDAY.

SINCE James the Second graced the British throne,

Truce, well observed, has been infringed by none ;

Christians to him their present union owe,

And late success against the common foe ;

While neighbouring princes, loth to urge their fate, 5

Court his assistance, and suspend their hate.

So angry bulls the combat do forbear,

When from the wood a lion does appear.

This happy day peace to our island sent,
As now he gives it to the continent. 10

A prince more fit for such a glorious task,
Than England's king, from Heaven we cannot ask ;
He, great and good ! proportioned to the work,
Their ill-drawn swords shall turn against the Turk.

Such kings, like stars with influence unconfined, 15
Shine with aspect propitious to mankind ;
Favour the innocent, repress the bold,
And, while they nourish, make an age of gold.

Bred in the camp, famed for his valour young ;
At sea successful, vigorous, and strong ; 20



232 POEMS OF

His fleet, his army, and his mighty mind,

Esteem and reverence through the world do find.

A prince with such advantages as these,

Where he persuades not, may command a peace.

Britain declaring for the juster side, 25

The most ambitious will forget their pride ;

They that complain will their endeavours cease,

Advised by him, inclined to present peace,

Join to the Turk's destruction, and then bring

All their pretences to so just a king. 30

If the successful troublers of mankind,
With laurel crowned, so great applause do find,
Shall the vexed world less honour yield to those
That stop their progress, and their rage oppose ?
Next to that power which does the ocean awe, 35
Is to set bounds, and give ambition law.

The British monarch shall the glory have,
That famous Greece remains no longer slave ;
That source of art and cultivated thought !
Which they to Rome, and Romans hither brought. 40

The banished Muses shall no longer mourn,
But may with liberty to Greece return ; .
Though slaves, (like birds that sing not in a cage)
They lost their genius, and poetic rage ;
Homers again, and Pindars, may be found, 45

And his great actions with their numbers crowned.

The Turk's vast empire does united stand ;
Christians, divided under the command
Of jarring princes, would be soon undone,



EDMUND WALLER. 233

Did not this hero make their interest one ; 50

Peace to embrace, ruin the common foe,
Exalt the Cross, and lay the Crescent low.

Thus may the Gospel to the rising sun
Be spread, and flourish where it first begun ;
And this great day, (so justly honoured here !) 55
Known to the East, and celebrated there.

Haec ego longxvus cecini tibi, maxime regum !
Ausus et ipse manu juvenum tentare laborem. VIRG.



234 POEMS OF



TO HIS MAJESTY,

UPON HIS MOTTO, BEATI PACIFIC1,
OCCASIONED BY THE TAKING OF BUDA, l686.

BUDA and Rhodes proud Solyman had torn

From those, whom discord made the Pagan scorn ;

Vienna too besieged, had been his prize,

Had not the approach of winter made him rise :

This motto practised, you have turned the scale,

Christians united by your help prevail.

Thus you enlarge the bounds of Christendom,

Though public interest keep you still at home.

The Gallic Prince his glory did increase,

When among subjects he made duels cease : l

But sure the Britain merits more renown,

That has made sovereigns lay their weapons down.

So peaceful ! and so valiant ! are extremes,

Not to be found, but in our matchless James.

The well-defended Buda, with the spoil ]

Was bravely got, but with much blood and toil :

Your nobler art of making peace destroys

The barbarous foe, without expense or noise.

So Heaven with silence favours our increase,

Preventing blasts and making tempests cease. a



EDMUND WALLER. 235

The world from Chaos was to Order brought,
By making peace among the parts that fought :
From like confusion you have Europe freed,
And with like concord made their arms succeed.
Victorious Peace, with this well-chosen word, 25
To Turks more fatal than the Imperial sword,
Has for reward to your high merit given,
A title to be called the Son of Heaven.

For they shall be called the Children of God. MATT. v. 9.



EPITAPH ON SIR GEORGE SPEKE.

UNDER this stone lies virtue, youth,
Unblemished probity and truth ;
Just unto all relations known,
A worthy patriot, pious son ;
Whom neighbouring towns so often sent,
To give their sense in parliament ;
With lives and fortunes trusting one
Who so discreetly used his own.
Sober he was, wise, temperate,
Contented with an old estate,
Which no foul avarice did increase,
Nor wanton luxury make less.
While yet but young his father died,
And left him to a happy guide ;



236 POEMS OF

Not Lemuel's mother with more care 15

Did counsel or instruct her heir,

Or teach with more success her son

The vices of the time to shun.

An heiress she ; while yet alive,

All that was hers to him did give ; 20

And he just gratitude did show

To one that had obliged him so ;

Nothing too much for her he thought,

By whom he was so bred and taught.

So (early made that path to tread, 25

Which did his youth to honour lead)

His short life did a pattern give

How neighbours, husbands, friends, should live.

The virtues of a private life

Exceed the glorious noise and strife 30

Of battles won ; in those we find
The solid interest of mankind.

Approved by all, and loved so well,
Though young, like fruit that's ripe, he fell.



EDMUND WALLER. 237

EPITAPH ON HENRY DUNCH, ESQ.,

IN NF.WINGTON CHURCH, IN OXFORDSHIRE, l686.

HERE lies the prop and glory of his race,

Who, that no time his memory may deface,

His grateful wife, under this speaking stone

His ashes hid, to make his merit known.

Sprung from an opulent and worthy line, 5

Whose well-used fortune made their virtues shine,

A rich example his fair life did give,

How others should with their relations live.

A pious son, a husband, and a friend,

To neighbours too his bounty did extend 10

So far, that they lamented when he died,

As if all to him had been near allied.

His curious youth would men and manners know,

Which made him to the southern nations go.

Nearer the Sun, though they more civil seem, 1 5

Revenge and luxury have their esteem ;

Which well observing he returned with more

Value for England, than he had before ;

Her true religion, and her statutes too,

He practised not less than seeked to know ; 20

And the whole country grieved for their ill fate,

To lose so good, so just a magistrate.

To shed a tear may readers be inclined,

And pray for one he only left behind,

Till she, who does inherit his estate, 25

May virtue love like him, and vices hate.



238 POEMS OF



SONG.

CHLORIS ! farewell. I now must go ;
For if with thee I longer stay,
Thy eyes prevail upon me so,
I shall prove blind, and lose my way.

Fame of thy beauty, and thy youth, 5

Among the rest, me hither brought ;
Finding this fame fall short of truth,
Made me stay longer than I thought.

For I'm engaged by word and oath,

A servant to another's will ; IO

Yet, for thy love, I'd forfeit both,

Could I be sure to keep it still.

But what assurance can I take,

When thou, foreknowing this abuse,

For some more worthy lover's sake, 15

Mayst leave me with so just excuse ?

For thou mayst say, 'twas not thy fault

That thou didst thus inconstant prove ;

Being by my example taught

To break thy oath, to mend thy love. 20



EDMUND WALLER. 239

No, Chloris ! no : I will return,
And raise thy story to that height,
That strangers shall at distance burn,
And she distrust me reprobate.

Then shall my love this doubt displace, 25

And gain such trust, that I may come
And banquet sometimes on thy face,
But make my constant meals at home.



TO MR. GRANVILLE (NOW LORD
LANSDOWNE),

ON HIS VERSES TO KING JAMES II.

AN early plant ! which such a blossom bears,
And shows a genius so beyond his years ;
A judgment ! that could make so fair a choice ;
So high a subject to employ his voice ;
Still as it grows, how sweetly will he sing
The growing greatness of cur matchless King !



240 POEMS OF



LONG AND SHORT LIFE.

CIRCLES are praised, not that abound
In largeness, but the exactly round :
So life we praise that does excel
Not in much time, but acting well.



TRANSLATED OUT OF FRENCH.

FADE, flowers ! fade, Nature will have it so ;
'Tis but what we must in our autumn do !
And as your leaves lie quiet on the ground,
The loss alone by those that loved them found.
So in the grave shall we as quiet lie,
Missed by some few that loved our company ;
But some so like to thorns and nettles live,
That none for them can, when they perish, grieve.



EDMUND WALLER. 241



SOME VERSES OF AN IMPERFECT COPY,

DESIGNED FOR A FRIEND, ON HIS TRANSLATION
OF OVID'S "FASTI."

ROME'S holy-days you tell, as if a guest

With the old Romans you were wont to feast.

Numa's religion, by themselves believed,

Excels the true, only in show received.

They made the nations round about them bow, 5

With their dictators taken from the plough ;

Such power has justice, faith, and honesty !

The world was conquered by morality.

Seeming devotion does but gild a knave,

That's neither faithful, honest, just, nor brave ; 10

But where religion does with virtue join,

It makes a hero like an angel shine.



242 POEMS OF

PRIDE. 1

NOT the brave Macedonian youth alone,

But base Caligula, when on the throne,

Boundless in power, would make himself a god,

As if the world depended on his nod.

The Syrian King to beasts was headlong thrown, 5

Ere to himself he could be mortal known.

The meanest wretch, if Heaven should give him line,

Would never stop till he were thought divine.

All might within discern the serpent's pride,

If from ourselves nothing ourselves did hide. IO

Let the proud peacock his gay feathers spread,

And woo the female to his painted bed ;

Let winds and seas together rage and swell ;

This Nature teaches, and becomes them well.

" Pride was not made for men : " a conscious sense 15

Of guilt, and folly, and their consequence,

Destroys the claim, and to beholders tells,

Here nothing but the shape of manhood dwells.



EPITAPH ON THE LADY SEDLEY.

HERE lies the learned Savil's heir ;

So early wise, and lasting fair,

That none, except her years they told,

Thought her a child, or thought her old.

All that her father knew or got, 5

i. Tonson, Reflection on these words Pride ivas not made
for man.



EDMUND WALLER. 243

His art, his wealth, fell to her lot ;

And she so well improved that stock,

Both of his knowledge and his flock,

That wit and fortune, reconciled

In her, upon each other smiled. 10

While she, to every well-taught mind,

Was so propitiously inclined,

And gave such title to her store,

That none, but the ignorant, were poor.

The Muses daily found supplies, 15

Both from her hands and from her eyes.

Her bounty did at once engage,

And matchless beauty warm, their rage.

Such was this dame in calmer days,

Her nation's ornament and praise ! 2O

But when a storm disturbed our rest,

The port and refuge of the oppressed.

This made her fortune understood,

And looked on as some public good.

So that (her person and her state, 25

Exempted from the common fate)

In all our civil fury she

Stood, like a sacred temple, free.

May here her monument stand so,

To credit this rude age ! and show 30

To future times, that even we

Some patterns did of virtue see ;

And one sublime example had

Of good, among so many bad.

R 2



244 POEMS OF

EPITAPH UNFINISHED.
GREAT soul ! for whom Death will no longer stay,
But sends in haste to snatch our bliss away.
O cruel Death ! to those you take more kind,
Than to the wretched mortals left behind !
Here beauty, youth, and noble virtue shined, 5

Free from the clouds of pride that shade the mind.
Inspired verse may on this marble live,
But can no honour to thy ashes give



UPON A LADY'S FISHING WITH AN
ANGLE.

SEE where the fair Clorinda sits, and seems
Like new-born Venus risen from the streams ;
In vain the beauties of the neighbouring field,

In vain the painted flowers' pride

With their faint colours strive to hide 5

That flower to which Flora herself would yield.

Each object's pleasant to the sight,

The streams, the meadows yield delight,
But nothing fair as her you can espy
Unless i' th' brook (her looking-glass) you chance to
cast your eye. 10

See how she makes the trembling angle shake,
Touched by those hands that would make all men

quake.
See how the numerous fishes of the brook



EDMUND WALLER. 245

(For now the armour of their scales

Nothing against her charms prevails) 15

Willingly hang themselves upon her hook ;

See how they crowd and thronging wait

Greedy to catch the proffered bait ;
In her more bright and smoother hands content
Rather to die, than live in their own watery element. 20

With how composed a look and cheerful air,
(Calm as the stream and as the season fair)
With careful eyes she views the dancing float,

Longing to have it disappear,

That she its head may higher rear, 25

And make it swim i' th' air above the moat ;

She sits as silent as the fish,

Seems burdened with no other wish,
So well she's masked under this fair pretence,
An infidel would swear she's made of perfect inno-
cence. 30

But ah ! Clorinda's is a cruel game,

As she with water sports, she sports with flame,

She innocently angles here, but then

Thousands of charming baits she lays,

A thousand other several ways ; 35

Her beauteous eyes ensnare whole shoals of men,

Each golden hair's a fishing line,

Able to catch such hearts as mine,
And he that once views her bewitching eyes,
To her victorious charms (like me) must ever be a
prize. 40



246 POEMS OF



ON MRS. HIGGONS.

INGENIOUS Higgons never sought

To hide the candour of her thought ;

And now her clothes are lost, we find

The nymph as naked as her mind :

Like Eve while yet she was untaught 5

To hide herself or know a fault.

For a snatched ribbon she would frown,

But cares too little for her gown ;

It makes her laugh, and all her grief

Is lest it should undo the thief. 10

Already she begins to stretch

Pier wit, to save the guilty wretch,

And says she was of goods bereft

By her own bounty, not by theft.

She thought not fit to keep her clothes 15

Till they were eaten up with moths,

But made a nobler use of store,

To clothe the naked and the poor.

Should all that do approve the fair

Her loss contribute to repair, 20

Of London she would have the fate,

And rise (undone) in greater state,

In points, and hoods, and Indian gown,

As glorious as the new-built town.



EDMUND WALLER. 247



DIVINE POEMS.



OF DIVINE LOVE.

SIX CANTOS.

I. Asserting the authority of the Scripture, in which this love
is revealed. II. The preference and love of God to man in the
creation. III. The same love more amply declared in our
redemption. IV. How necessary this love is to reform man-
kind, and how excellent in itself. V. Showing how happy the
world would be, if this love were universally embraced. VI.
Of preserving this love in our memory, and how useful the con-
templation thereof is.

CANTO I.

THE Grecian muse has all their gods survived,
Nor Jove at us, nor Phoebus is arrived ;
Frail deities ! which first the poets made,
And then invoked, to give their fancies aid.
Yet if they still divert us with their rage, 5

What may be hoped for in a better age,
When not from Helicon's imagined spring,
But Sacred Writ, we borrow what we sing ?
This with the fabric of the world begun,
Elder than light, and shall outlast the sun. 10



248 POEMS OF

Before this oracle, like Dagon, all
The false pretenders, Delphos, Ammon, fall ;
Long since despised and silent, they afford
Honour and triumph to the eternal Word.


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