Edmund Waller.

The poems of Edmund Waller; online

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As late philosophy our globe has graced, 1 5

And rolling earth among the planets placed,
So has this Book entitled us to heaven,
And rules to guide us to that mansion given ;
Tells the conditions how our peace was made,
And is our pledge for the great Author's aid. 20

His power in Nature's ample book we find,
But the less volume does express His mind.

This light unknown, bold Epicurus taught
That his blessed gods vouchsafe us not a thought,
But unconcerned let all below them slide, 25

As fortune does, or human wisdom, guide.
Religion thus removed, the sacred yoke,
And band of all society, is broke.
What use of oaths, of promise, or of test,
Where men regard no God but interest ? 30

What endless war would jealous nations tear,
If none above did witness what they swear ?
Sad fate of unbelievers, and yet just,
Among themselves to find so little trust !
Were Scripture silent, Nature would proclaim, 35
Without a God, our falsehood and our shame.
To know our thoughts the object of his eyes,
Is the first step towards being good or wise ;
For though with judgment we on things reflect,



EDMUND WALLER, 249

Our will determines, not our intellect. 40

Slaves to their passion, reason men employ

Only to compass what they would enjoy.

His fear to guard us from ourselves we need,

And Sacred Writ our reason does exceed ;

For though heaven shows the glory of the Lord, 45

Yet something shines more glorious in his Word ;

His mercy this (which all his work excels !)

His tender kindness and compassion tells ;

While we, informed l>y that celestial Book,

Into the bowels of our Maker look. 50

Love there revealed (which never shall have end,

Nor had beginning) shall our song commend ;

Describe itself, and warm us with that flame

Which first from heaven, to make us happy, came.

CANTO II.

THE fear of hell, or aiming to be blessed,

Savours too much of private interest.

This moved not Moses, nor the zealous Paul,

Who for their friends abandoned soul and all ;

A greater yet from heaven to hell descends, 5

To save, and make his enemies his friends.

What line of praise can fathom such a love,

Which reached the lowest bottom from above ?

The royal prophet, that extended grace

From heaven to earth, measured but half that space.

The law was regnant, and confined his thought ; [10



250 POEMS OF

Hell was not conquered when that poet wrote ;
Heaven was scarce heard of until he came down,
To make the region where love triumphs known.

That early love of creatures yet unmade, 1 5

To frame the world the Almighty did persuade ;
For love it was that first created light,
Moved on the waters, chased away the night
From the rude Chaos, and bestowed new grace
On things disposed of to their proper place ; 20

Some to rest here, and some to shine above ;
Earth, sea, and heaven, were all the effects of love.
And love would be returned ; but there was none
That to themselves or others yet were known ;
The world a palace was without a guest, 25

Till one appears that must excel the rest ;
One ! like the Author, whose capacious mind
Might, by the glorious work, the Maker find ;
Might measure heaven, and give each star a name ;
With art and courage the rough ocean tame ; 30

Over the globe with swelling sails might go,
And that 'tis round by his experience know ;
Make strongest beasts obedient to his will,
And serve his use the fertile earth to till.
When, by his Word, God had accomplished all, 35
Man to create he did a council call ;
Employed his hand, to give the dust he took
A graceful figure, and majestic look ;
With his own breath conveyed into his breast
Life, and a soul fit to command the rest ; 40



EDMUND WALLER. 251

Worthy alone to celebrate his name

For such a gift, and tell from whence it came.

Birds sing his praises in a wilder note,

But not with lasting numbers and with thought,

Man's great prerogative ! but above all 45

His grace abounds in his new favourite's fall.

If he create, it is a world he makes ;
If he be angry, the creation shakes ;
From his just wrath our guilty parents fled ;
He cursed the earth, but bruised the serpent's head.
Amidst the storm his bounty did exceed, [50

In the rich promise of the Virgin's seed ;
Though justice death, as satisfaction, craves,
Love finds a way to pluck us from our graves.

CANTO III.

NOT willing terror should his image move ;

He gives a pattern of eternal love ;

His Son descends to treat a peace with those

Which were, and must have ever been, his foes.

Poor he became, and left his glorious seat 5

To make us humble, and to make us great ;

His business here was happiness to give

To those whose malice could not let him live.

Legions of angels, which he might have used,
(For us resolved to perish) he refused ; 10

While they stood ready to prevent his loss,
Love took him up, and nailed him to the cross.



252 POEMS OF

Immortal love ! which in his bowels reigned,

That we might be by such a love constrained

To make return of love. Upon this pole 15

Our duty does, and our religion, roll.

To love is to believe, to hope, to know ;

'Tis an essay, a taste of heaven below !

He to proud potentates would not be known ;
Of those that loved him he was hid from none. 20
Till love appear we live in anxious dowbt ;
But smoke will vanish when that flame breaks out ;
This is the fire that would consume our dross,
Refine, and make us richer by the loss.

Could we forbear dispute, and practise love, 25
We should agree as angels do above.
Where love presides, not vice alone does find
No entrance there, bat virtues stay behind ;
Both faith, and hope, and all the meaner train
Of moral virtues, at the door remain. 30

Love only enters as a native there,
For, born in heaven, it does but sojourn here.

He that alone would wise and mighty be,
Commands that others love as well as he.
Love as he loved ! How can we soar so high ? 35
He can add wings, when he commands to fly.
Nor should we be with this command dismayed ;
He that examples gives, will give his aid ;
For he took flesh, that where his precepts fail,
His practice, as a pattern, may prevail. 40

His love, at once, and dread, instruct our thought ;



EDMUND WALLER. 253

As man he suffered, and as God he taught.

Will for the deed he takes ; we may with ease

Obedient be, for if we love we please.

Weak though we are, to love is no hard task, 45

And love for love is all that Heaven does ask.

Love ! that would all men just and temperate make,

Kind to themselves, and others, for his sake.

"Pis with our minds as with a fertile ground,
Wanting this love they must with weeds abound, 50
(Unruly passions) whose effects are worse
Than thorns and thistles springing from the curse.

CANTO IV.

To glory man, or misery, is born,

Of his proud foe the envy, or the scorn ;

Wretched he is, or happy, in extreme ;

Base in himself, but great in Heaven's esteem ;

With love, of all created things the best ; 5

Without it, more pernicious than the rest ;

For greedy wolves unguarded sheep devour

But while their hunger lasts, and then give o'er ;

Man's boundless avarice his want exceeds,

And on his neighbours round about him feeds. 10

His pride and vain ambition are so vast,
That, deluge-like, they lay whole nations waste.
Debauches and excess (though with less noise)
As great a portion of mankind destroys.
The beasts and monsters Hercules oppressed 1 5



254 POEMS OF

Might in that age some provinces infest ;

These more destructive monsters are the bane

Of every age, and in all nations reign ;

But soon would vanish, if the world were blessed

With sacred love, by which they are repressed. 20

Impendent death, and guilt that threatens hell,
Are dreadful guests, which here with mortals

dwell}

And a vexed conscience, mingling with their joy
Thoughts of despair, does their whole life annoy ;
But love appearing, all those terrors fly ; 25

We live contented, and contented die.
They in whose breast this sacred love has place,
Death, as a passage to their joy, embrace.
Clouds and thick vapours, which obscure the day,
The sun's victorious beams may chase away ; 30

Those which our life corrupt and darken, love
(The nobler star !) must from the soul remove.
Spots are observed in that which bounds the year ;
This brighter sun moves in a boundless sphere ;
Of heaven the joy, the glory, and the light, 35

Shines among angels, and admits no night.

CANTO V.

THIS Iron Age (so fraudulent and bold !)
Touched with this love, would be an Age of Gold ;
Not, as they feigned, that oaks should honey drop,
Or land neglected bear an unsown crop ;



EDMUND WALLER. 255

Love would make all things easy, safe, and cheap ; 5
None for himself would either sow or reap ;
Our ready help, and mutual love, would yield
A nobler harvest than the richest field.
Famine and death, confined to certain parts,
Extended are by barrenness of hearts. 10

Some pine for want where others surfeit now ;
But then we should the use of plenty know.
Love would betwixt the rich and needy stand,
And spread Heaven's bounty with an equal hand ;
At once the givers and receivers bless, 15

Increase their joy, and make their suffering less.
Who for himself no miracle would make,
Dispensed with Nature for the people's sake ;
He that, long fasting, would no wonder show,
Made loaves and fishes, as they ate them, grow, 20
Of all his power, which boundless was above,
Here he used none but to express his love ;
And such a love would make our joy exceed,
Not when our own, but other mouths we feed.

Laws would be useless which rude nature awe ; 25
Love, changing nature, would prevent the law ;
Tigers and lions into dens we thrust,
But milder creatures with their freedom trust.
Devils are chained, and tremble ; but the Spouse
No force but love, nor bond but bounty, knows. 30
Men (whom we now so fierce and dangerous see)
Would guardian angels to each other be ;
Such wonders can this mighty love perform,



256 POEMS OF

Vultures to doves, wolves into lambs transform !

Love what Isaiah prophesied can do, 35

Exalt the valleys, lay the mountains low,

Humble the lofty, the dejected raise,

Smooth and make straight our rough and crooked

ways.

Love, strong as death, and like it, levels all ;
With that possessed, the great in title fall ; 40

Themselves esteem but equal to the least,
Whom Heaven with that high character has blessed.
This love, the centre of our union, can
Alone bestow complete repose on man ;
Tame his wild appetite, make inward peace. 45

And foreign strife among the nations cease.
No martial trumpet should disturb our rest,
Nor princes arm, though to subdue the East ;
Where for the tomb so many heroes (taught
By those that guided their devotion) fought. 50

Thrice happy we, could we like ardour have
To gain his love, as they to win his grave !
Love as he loved ! A love so unconfined,
With arms extended, would embrace mankind.
Self-love would cease, or be dilated, when 55

We should behold as many selfs as men ;
All of one family, in blood allied,
His precious blood, that for our ransom died.



EDMUND WALLER. 257

CANTO VI.

THOUGH the creation (so divinely taught !)

Prints such a lively image in our thought,

That the first spark of new-created light,

From Chaos struck, affects our present sight ;

Yet the first Christians did esteem more blessed 5

The day of rising, than the day of rest,

That every week might new occasion give,

To make his triumph in their memory live.

Then let our Muse compose a sacred charm,

To keep his blood among us ever warm, 10

And singing as the blessed do above,

With our last breath dilate this flame of love.

But on so vast a subject who can find

Words that may reach the ideas of his mind ?

Our language fails; or, if it could supply, 15

What mortal thought can raise itself so high ?

Despairing here, we might abandon art,

And only hope to have it in our heart.

But though we find this sacred task too hard,

Yet the design, the endeavour, brings reward. 20

The contemplation does suspend our woe,

And makes a truce with all the ills we know.

As Saul's afflicted spirit, from the sound

Of David's harp, a present solace found ;

So on this theme while we our Muse engage, 25

No wounds are felt, of fortune or of age.

On divine love to meditate is peace,



258 POEMS OF

And makes all care of meaner things to cease.

Amazed at once, and comforted, to find
A boundless power so infinitely kind, 30

The soul contending to that light to flee
From her dark cell, we practise how to die ;
Employing thus the poet's winged art,
To reach this love, and grave it in our heart.
Joy so complete, so solid, and severe, 35

Would leave no place for meaner pleasures there ;
Pale they would look, as stars that must be gone,
When from the East the rising sun comes on.

Floriferis ut Apes in saltibus omnia libant,
Sic nos Scripturae depascimur aurea dicta ;
Aurea perpetua semper dignissima vita.
Nam Divinus Amor, cum coepit vociferari,
Diffugiunt Animi terrores. LUCR.

Exul eram, requiesque mihi, non Fama petita est,
Mens intenta suis ne foret usque malis.
Namque ubi mota calent Sacra mea Pectora Musa,
Altior humano Spiritus ille malo est. De Trist.



EDMUND WALLER. 259

OF DIVINE POESY.

TWO CANTOS.

Occasioned upon sight of the sjrd chapter of I saiah lurnedinto
verse by Mrs. Wharton.

CANTO I.

POETS we prize, when in their verse we find
Some great employment of a worthy mind.
Angels have been inquisitive to know
The secret which this oracle does show.
What was to come, Isaiah did declare, 5

Which she describes as if she had been there ;
Had seen the wounds, which, to the reader's view,
She draws so lively that they bleed anew.
As ivy thrives which on the oak takes hold,
So with the prophet's may her lines grow old ! 10
If they should die, who can the world forgive,
(Such pious lines !) when wanton Sappho's live?
Who with his breath his image did inspire,
Expects it should foment a nobler fire ;
Not love which brutes as well as men may know, 15
But love like his, to whom that breath we owe.
Verse so designed, on that high subject wrote,
Is the perfection of an ardent thought ;
The smoke which we from burning incense raise,
When we complete the sacrifice of praise. 20

In boundless verse the fancy soars too high
For any object but the Deity,
What mortal can with Heaven pretend to share

s 2



26o POEMS OF

In the superlatives of wise and fair ?

A meaner subject when with these we grace, 25

A giant's habit on a dwarf we place.

Sacred should be the product of our Muse,

Like that sweet oil, above all private use,

On pain of death forbidden to be made,

But when it should be on the altar laid. 30

Verse shows a rich inestimable vein,

When, dropped from heaven, 'tis thither sent again.

Of bounty 'tis that he admits our praise,
Which does not him, but us that yield it, raise ;
For as that angel up to heaven did rise, 35

Borne on the flame of Manoah's sacrifice,
So, winged with praise, we penetrate the sky ;
Teach clouds and stars to praise him as we fly ;
The whole creation, (by our fall made groan !)
His praise to echo, and suspend their moan. 40

For that he reigns, all creatures should rejoice,
And we with songs supply their want of voice.
The church triumphant, and the church below,
In songs of praise their 1 present union show ;
Their joys are full ; our expectation long ; 45

In life we differ, but we join in song.
Angels and we, assisted by this art,
May sing together, though we dwell apart.
Thus we reach heaven, while vainer poems must
No higher rise than winds may lift the dust. 50

i. Divine Poems, 1685, a.



EDMUND WALLER. 261

From that they spring ; this from his breath that

gave,

To the first dust, the immortal soul we have ;
His praise well sung, (our great endeavour here)
Shakes off the dust, and makes that breath appear.

CANTO II.

HE that did first this way of writing grace,
Conversed with the Almighty face to face ;
Wonders he did in sacred verse unfold,
When he had more than eighty winters told.
The writer feels no dire effect of age, 5

Nor verse, that flows from so divine a rage.
Eldest of Poets, he beheld the light,
When first it triumphed o'er eternal night ;
Chaos he saw, and could distinctly tell
How that confusion into order fell. 10

As if consulted with, he has expressed
The work of the Creator, and his rest ;
How the flood drowned the first offending race,
Which might the figure of our globe deface.
For new-made earth, so even and so fair, 15

Less equal now, uncertain makes the air ;
.Surprised with heat and unexpected cold,
Early distempers make our youth look old ;
Our days so evil, and so few, may tell
That on the ruins of that world we dwell. 20

Strong as the oaks that nourished them, and
high,



262 POEMS OF

That long-lived race did on their force rely,

Neglecting Heaven ; but we, of shorter date !

Should be more mindful of impendent fate.

To worms, that crawl upon this rubbish here, 25

This span of life may yet too long appear ;

Enough to humble, and to make us great,

If it prepare us for a nobler seat.

Which well observing, he, in numerous lines,

Taught wretched man how fast his life declines ; 30

In whom he dwelt before the world was made,

And may again retire when that shall fade.

The lasting Iliads have not lived so long

As his and Deborah's triumphant song.

Delphos unknown, no Muse could them inspire, 35

But that which governs the celestial choir.

Heaven to the pious did this art reveal.

And from their store succeeding poets steal.

Homer's Scamander for the Trojans fought,

And swelled so high, by her old Kishon taught. 40

His river scarce could fierce Achilles stay ;

Hers, more successful, swept her foes away.

The host of Heaven, his Phoebus and his Mars,

He arms, instructed by her fighting stars.

She led them all against the common foe ; 45

But he (misled by what he saw below !)

The powers above, like wretched men, divides,

And breaks their union into different sides.

The noblest parts which in his heroes shine,

May be but copies of that heroine. 50



EDMUND WALLER. 263

Homer himself, and Agamemnon, she

The writer could, and the commander, be.

Truth she relates in a sublimer strain,

Than all the tales the boldest Greeks could feign ;

For what she sung that Spirit did indite, 55

Which gave her courage, and success, in fight.

A double garland crowns the matchless dame ;

From Heaven her poem, and her conquest, came.

Though of the Jews she merit most esteem,
Yet here the Christian has the greater theme ; 60
Her martial song describes how Sisera fell ;
This sings our triumph over death and hell.
The rising light employed the sacred breath
Of the blest Virgin and Elizabeth.
In songs of joy the angels sung his birth ; 65

Here how he treated was upon the earth
Trembling we read! the affliction and the scorn,
Which for our guilt so patiently was borne !
Conception, birth, and suffering, all belong
(Though various parts) to one celestial song ; 70

And she, well using so divine an art,
Has in this concert sung the tragic part.

As Hannah's seed was vowed to sacred use,
So here this lady consecrates her Muse.
With like reward may Heaven her bed adorn, 75
With fruit as fair as by her Muse is born !



264 POEMS OF



OF THE PARAPHRASE ON THE LORD'S
PRAYER,

WRITTEN BY MRS. WHARTON.

SILENCE, you winds ! listen, ethereal lights !

While our Urania sings what Heaven indites ;

The numbers are the nymph's ; but from above

Descends the pledge of that eternal love.

Here wretched mortals have not leave alone, 5

But are instructed, to approach his throne j

And how can he to miserable men

Deny requests which his own hand did pen ?

In the Evangelists we find the prose
Which, paraphrased by her, a poem grows ; 10

A devout rapture ! so divine a hymn,
It may become the highest seraphim !
For they, like her, in that celestial choir,
Sing only what the Spirit does inspire.
Taught by our Lord, and theirs, with us they may 15
For all but pardon for offences pray.



EDMUND WALLER. 265



SOME REFLECTIONS OF HIS UPON THE
SEVERAL PETITIONS IN THE SAME
PRAYER.

I.

His sacred name with reverence profound

Should mentioned be, and trembling at the sound

It was Jehovah ; 'tis Our Father now ;

So low to us does Heaven vouchsafe to bow ! Ps. xviii. 9.

He brought it down, that taught us how to pray ; 5

And did so dearly for our ransom pay. 1

2.

His kingdom come. For this we pray in vain,
Unless he does in our affections reign.
Absurd it were to wish for such a King,
And not obedience to his sceptre bring, 10

Whose yoke is easy, and his burthen light,
His service freedom, and his judgments right. 2

3-

His -wilt be don:. In fact 'tis always done ;

But, as in Heaven, it must be made our own.

His will should all our inclinations sway, 15

Whom Nature, and the universe, obey

i. 1685, Brethren to him that taught us htnv to pray,

And did so dearly for our Ransom pay.
3. This couplet does not occur in the edition of 1685.



266 POEMS OF

Happy the man ! whose wishes are confined

To what has been eternally designed ;

Referring all to his paternal care,

To whom more dear than to ourselves we are. 1 20

4-

It is not what our avarice hoards up ;

'Tis he that feeds us, and that fills our cup ;

Like new-born babes depending on the breast,

From day to day we on his bounty feast ;

Nor should the soul expect above a day 25

To dwell in her frail tenement of clay ;

The setting sun should seem to bound our race,

And the new day a gift of special giace.

5-

That he should all our trespasses forgive,

While we in hatred with our neighbours live ; 30

Though so to pray may seem an easy task,

We curse ourselves when thus inclined we ask.

This prayer to use, we ought with equal care

Our souls, as to the sacrament prepare.

The noblest worship of the Power above, 35

Is to extol, and imitate his love ;

Not to forgive our enemies alone,

But use our bounty that they may be won.

i. This and three preceding lines are not in the edition of
1685.



EDMUND WALLER. 267

6.

Guard us from all temptations of the foe,

And those we may in several stations know ; 40

The rich and poor in slippery places stand.

Give us enough ! but with a sparing hand !

Not ill-persuading want, nor wanton wealth,

But what proportioned is to life and health.

For not the dead, but living, sing thy praise, 45

Exalt thy kingdom, and thy glory raise.

Favete linguis !

Virglnibus puerisque canto. HORAT.



ON THE FEAR OF GOD.

IN TWO CANTOS.
CANTO I.

THE fear of God is freedom, joy, and peace,

And makes all ills that vex us here to cease.

Though the word fear some men may ill endure,

'Tis such a fear as only makes secure.

Ask of no angel to reveal thy fate ; 5

Look in thy heart, the mirror of thy state.

He that invites will not the invited mock,

Opening to all that do in earnest knock.

Our hopes are all well-grounded on this fear

All our assurance rolls upon that sphere. 10



268 POEMS OF

This fear, that drives all other fears away,

Shall be my song, the morning of our day !

Where that fear is, there's nothing to be feared ;

It brings from Heaven an angel for our guard.

Tranquillity and peace this fear does give ; 1 5

Hell gapes for those that do without it live.

It is a beam, which he on man lets fall,

Of light, by which he made and governs all.

'Tis God alone should not offended be ;

But we please others, as more great than he. 20

For a good cause, the sufferings of man

May well be borne ; 'tis more than angels can.

Man, since his fall, in no mean station rests,

Equal to angels, or below the beasts.

He with true joy their hearts alone does fill, 25

That thirst and hunger to perform his will.

Others, though rich, shall in this world be vexed,

And sadly live in terror of the next.

The world's great conqueror would his point pursue,

And wept because he could not find a new ; 30

Which had he done, yet still he would have cried,

To make him work until a third he spied.

Ambition, avarice, will nothing owe

To Heaven itself, unless it make them grow.

Though richly fed, man's care does still exceed ; 35

Has but one mouth, but would a thousand feed.

In wealth and honour, by such men possessed,

If it increase not, there is found no rest.

All their delight is while their wish comes in ;



EDMUND WALLER. 269

Sad when it stops, as there had nothing been. 40

'Tis strange men should neglect their present store,

And take no joy but in pursuing more ;


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Online LibraryEdmund WallerThe poems of Edmund Waller; → online text (page 16 of 21)