Edmund Waller.

The poems of Edmund Waller; online

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Should thy iambics swell into a book,

All were confuted with one radiant look.

Heaven he obliged that placed her in the skies ; 25

Rewarding Phoebus, for inspiring so

His noble brain, by likening to those eyes

His joyful beams ; but Phoebus is thy foe,

And neither aids thy fancy nor thy sight,

So ill thou rhym'st against so fair a light. 30



THEY taste of death that do at heaven arrive ;

But we this paradise approach alive.

Instead of death, the dart of love does strike,

And renders all within these walls alike.

The high in titles, and the shepherd, here 5

Forgets his greatness, and forgets his fear.

All stand amazed, and gazing on the fair,

Lose thought of what themselves or others are ;

Ambition lose, and have no other scope,

Save Carlisle's favour, to employ their hope. 10

The Thracian could (though all those tales were true

The bold Greeks tell) no greater wonders do ;

Before his feet so sheep and lions lay,

Fearless and wrathless while they heard him play.

The gay, the wise, the gallant, and the grave, 15

Subdued alike, all but one passion have ;

No worthy mind but finds in hers there is

Something proportioned to the rule of his ;

While she with cheerful, but impartial grace,

(Born for no one, but to delight the race 20

Of men) like Phoebus so divides her light,

And warms us, that she stoops not from her height.



PHYLLIS ! 'twas love that injured you,
And on that rock your Thyrsis threw ;
Who for proud Celia could have died,
Whilst you no less accused his pride.

Fond Love his darts at random throws, 5

And nothing springs from what he sows ;
From foes discharged, as often meet
The shining points of arrows fleet,
In the wide air creating fire,
As souls that join in one desire. 10

Love made the lovely Venus burn
In vain, and for the cold youth mourn,
Who the pursuit of churlish beasts
Preferred to sleeping on her breasts.

Love makes so many hearts the prize 1 5

Of the bright Carlisle's conquering eyes
Which she regards no more than they
The tears of lesser beauties weigh.
So have I seen the lost clouds pour
Into the sea a useless shower ; 2O

And the vexed sailors curse the rain
For which poor shepherds prayed in vain.
Then, Phyllis, since our passions are


Governed by chance ; and not the care,

But sport of Heaven, which takes delight 25

To look upon this Parthian fight 1

Of love, still flying, or in chase,

Never encountering face to face

No more to love we'll sacrifice,

But to the best of deities ; 30

And let our hearts, which love disjoined,

By his kind mother be combined.



How bold a work attempts that pen,
Which would enrich our vulgar tongue
With the high raptures of those men
Who, here, with the same spirit sung
Wherewith they now assist the choir 5

Of angels, who their songs admire !

Whatever those inspired souls

Were urged to express, did shake

The aged deep, and both the poles ;

Their numerous thunder could awake 10

Dull earth, which does with Heaven consent

To all they wrote, and all they meant.


Say, sacred bard ! what could bestow

Courage on thee to soar so high ?

Tell me, brave friend ! what helped thee so 15

To shake off all mortality ?

To light this torch, thou hast climbed higher

Than he who stole celestial fire.


MIRROR of poets ! mirror of our age !

Which her whole face beholding on thy stage,

Pleased, and displeased, with her own faults, endures

A remedy like those whom music cures.

Thou hast alone 1 those various inclinations 5

Which Nature gives to ages, sexes, nations,

So traced 2 with thy all-resembling pen,

That whate'er 3 custom has imposed on men,

Or ill-got habit (which deforms them so,

That scarce a brother can his brother know) 4 10

Is represented to the wondering eyes

Of all that see, or read, thy comedies.

i. Thou not alone. " Jonsonus Virbius," 1638.
3. Hast traced Ibid.

3.*t all that Ibid.

4. Or ill-got habits (which distort them so

That scarce the brother can the brother know). Ibid.


Whoever in those glasses looks, may find

The spots returned, or graces, of his mind ;

And by the help of so divine an art, 1 5

At leisure view, and dress, his nobler part.

Narcissus, cozened by that flattering well,

Which nothing could but of his beauty tell,

Had here, discovering the deformed estate

Of his fond mind, preserved himself with hate. 20

But virtue too, as well as vice, is clad

In flesh and blood so well, that Plato had

Beheld, what his high fancy once embraced,

Virtue with colours, speech, and motion graced.

The sundry postures of thy copious Muse 25

Who would express, a thousand tongues must use ;

Whose fate's no less peculiar than thy art ;

For as thou couldst all characters impart,

So none could render thine, which still escapes,

Like Proteus, in variety of shapes ; 30

Who was nor this, nor that, but all we find,

And all we can imagine, in mankind.




To this great loss a sea of tears is due ;
But the whole debt not to be paid by you.
Charge not yourself with all, nor render vain
Those showers the eyes of us your servants rain.
Shall grief contract the largeness of that heart, 5

In which nor fear, nor anger, has a part ?
Virtue would blush if time should boast (which dries,
Her sole child dead, the tender mother's eyes)
Your mind's relief, where reason triumphs so
Over all passions, that they ne'er could grow 10

Beyond their limits in your noble breast,
To harm another, or impeach your rest.
This we observed, delighting to obey
One who did never from his great self stray ;
Whose mild example seemed to engage 1 5

The obsequious seas, and teach them not to rage.
The brave ./Emilius, his great 1 charge laid down,
(The force of Rome, and fate of Macedon)
In his lost sons did feel ihe cruel stroke
Of changing fortune, and thus highly spoke 20

i. This word is omitted in the edition of 1645.


Before Rome's people : "We did oft implore,

That if the heavens had any bad 1 in store

For your ^milius, they would pour that ill

On his own house, and let you 2 flourish still."

You on the barren seas, my lord, have spent 25

Whole springs and summers to the public lent ;

Suspended all the pleasures of your life,

And shortened the short joy of such a wife ;

For which your country's more obliged than

For many lives of old less happy men. 30

You, that have sacrificed so great a part

Of youth, and private bliss, ought to impart

Your sorrow too, and give your friends a right

As well in your affliction as delight.

Then with /Emilian courage bear this cross, 35

Since public persons only public loss

Ought to affect. And though her form and youth,

Her application to your will and truth,

That noble sweetness, and that humble state,

(All snatched away by such a hasty fate !) 40

Might give excuse to any common breast,

With the huge weight of so just grief oppressed ;

Yet let no portion of your life be stained

With passion, but your character maintained

To the last act. It is enough her stone 45

May honoured be with superscription

Of the sole lady who had power to move

The great Northumberland to grieve, and love.

i. 1645, ill. 2. 1664, yours.




WITH joy like ours, the Thracian youth invades

Orpheus, returning from the Elysian shades ;

Embrace the hero, and his stay implore ;

Make it their public suit he would no more

Desert them so, and for his spouse's sake, 5

His vanished love, tempt the Lethean lake.

The ladies, too, the brightest of that time,

(Ambitious all his lofty bed to climb)

Their doubtful hopes with expectation feed,

Who shall the fair Eurydice succeed: IO

Eurydice ! for whom his numerous moan

Makes listening trees and savage mountains groan ;

Through all the air his sounding strings dilate

Sorrow, like that which touched our hearts of late.

Your pining sickness, and your restless pain, 1 5

At once the land affecting, and the main,

When the glad news that you were admiral

Scarce through the nation spread, 'twas feared by all

That our great Charles, whose wisdom shines in you,

Would be perplexed how to choose a new. 20

So more than private was the joy and grief,



That at the worst it gave our souls relief,

That in our age such sense of virtue lived,

They joyed so justly, and so justly grieved.

Nature (her fairest lights eclipsed) seems 25

Herself to suffer in those sharp extremes ;

While not from thine alone thy blood retires,

But from those cheeks which all the world admires.

The stem thus threatened, and the sap in thee,

Droop all the branches of that noble tree ! 30

Their beauty they, and we our love suspend ;

Nought can our wishes, save thy health, intend.

As lilies overcharged with rain, they bend

Their beauteous heads, and with high heaven contend ;

Fold thee within their snowy arms, and cry 35

" He is too faultless, and too young, to die ! "

So like immortals round about thee they

Sit, that they fright approaching death away.

Who would not languish, by so fair a train

To be lamented, and restored again? 40

Or, thus withheld, what hasty soul would go,

Though to be 1 blest ? O'er her 2 Adonis so

Fair Venus mourned, and with the precious shower

Of her warm tears cherished the springing flower.

The next support, fair hope of your great name, 45
And second pillar of that noble frame,
By loss of thee would no advantage have,
But step by step pursue thee to the grave.

i. 1645, the, 2. 1645, young.


And now relentless Fate, about to end
The line which backward does so far extend 50

That antique stock, which still the world supplies
With bravest spirits, and with brightest eyes,
Kind Phoebus, interposing, bid me say,
Such storms no more shall shake that house ; but they,
Like Neptune, and his sea-born niece, shall be 55
The shining glories of the land and sea ;
With courage guard, and beauty warm, our age,
And lovers fill with like poetic rage.


GREAT Queen of Europe ! where thy offspring wears

All the chief crowns ; where princes are thy heirs ;

As welcome thou to sea-girt Britain's shore,

As erst Latona (who fair Cynthia bore)

To Delos was ; here shines a nymph as bright, 5

By thee disclosed, with like increase of light.

Why was her joy in Belgia confined ? 1

Or why did you so much regard the wind ?

Scarce could the ocean, though enraged, have tossed

Thy sovereign bark, but where the obsequious coast 10

Pays tribute to thy bed. Rome's conquering hand

i. 1645, so confined.

D 2


More vanquished nations under her command

Never reduced. Glad Berecynthia so

Among her deathless progeny did go ;

A wreath of towers 1 adorned her reverend head, 15

Mother of all that on ambrosia fed.

Thy godlike race must sway the age to come,

As she Olympus peopled with her womb.

Would those commanders of mankind obey
Their honoured parent, all pretences lay 20

Down at your royal feet, compose their jars,
And on the growing Turk discharge these wars,
The Christian knights that sacred tomb should wrest
From Pagan hands, and triumph o'er the East ;
Our England's Prince, and Gallia's Dauphin, might
Like young Rinaldo and Tancredo fight ; [25

In single combat by their swords again
The proud Argantes and fierce Soldan slain ;
Again might we their valiant deeds recite,
And with your Tuscan Muse exalt the fight. 30

i. This is the reading of the edition of 1645 ; the later editions



MAY those already cursed Essexian plains,

Where hasty death and pining sickness reigns,

Prove all a desert ! and none there make stay,

But savage beasts, or men as wild as they !

There the fair light which all our island graced, 5

Like Hero's taper in the window placed,

Such fate from the malignant air did find,

As that exposed to the boisterous wind.

Ah, cruel Heaven ! to snatch so soon away
Her for whose life, had we had time to pray, 10

With thousand vows and tears we should have


That sad decree's suspension to have wrought.
But we, alas, no whisper of her pain
Heard, till 'twas sin to wish her here again.
That horrid word, at once, like lightning spread, 15
Struck all our ears The Lady Rich is dead !
Heartrending news ! and dreadful to those few
Who her resemble, and her steps pursue ;
That Death should license have to rage among
The fair, the wise, the virtuous, and the young ! 20

The Paphian queen from that fierce battle borne,
With gored hand, and veil so rudely torn,


Like terror did among the immortals breed,
Taught by her wound that goddesses may 1 bleed.

All stand amazed ! but beyond the rest 25

The heroic dame whose happy womb she blessed,
Moved with just grief, expostulates with Heaven,
Urging the 2 promise to the obsequious given,
Of longer life ; for ne'er was pious soul
More apt to obey, more worthy to control. 30

A skilful eye at once might read the race
Of Caledonian monarchs in her face,
And sweet humility ; her look and mind
At once were lofty, and at once were kind.
There dwelt the scorn of vice, and pity too, 35

For those that did what she disdained to do ;
So gentle and severe, that what was bad,
At once her hatred and her pardon had.
Gracious to all ; but where her love was due,
So fast, so faithful, loyal, and so true, 40

That a bold hand as soon might hope to force
The rolling lights of Heaven as change her course.

Some happy angel, that beholds her there,
Instruct us to record what she was here !
And when this cloud of sorrow's overblown, 45

Through the wide world we'll make her graces known.
So fresh the wound is, and the grief so vast,
That all our art and power of speech is waste.
Here passion sways, but there the Muse shall raise
Eternal monuments of louder praise. . 50

i. 1645, might. 2. 1645, that.


There our delight, complying with her fame,
Shall have occasion to recite thy name,
Fair Sacharissa ! and now only fair !
To sacred friendship we'll an altar rear,
(Such as the Romans did erect of old) 55

Where, on a marble pillar, shall be told
The lovely passion each to other bare,
With the resemblance of that matchless pair.
Narcissus to the thing for which he pined,
Was not more like than yours to her fair mind, 60
Save that she graced the several parts of life,
A spotless virgin, and a faultless wife.
Such was the sweet converse 'twixt her and you,
As that she holds with her associates now.

How false is hope, and how regardless fate, 65
That such a love should have so short a date !
Lately I saw her sighing part from thee ;
(Alas that such 1 the last farewell should be !)
So looked Astrasa, her remove designed,
On those distressed friends she left behind. 70

Consent in virtue knit your hearts so fast,
That still the knot, in spite of death, does last ;
For as your tears, and sorrow-wounded soul,
Prove well that on your part this bond is whole,
So all we know of what they do above, 75

Is that they happy are, and that they love.
Let dark oblivion, and the hollow grave,

i. 1645, that.


Content themselves our frailer thoughts to have ;

Well chosen love is never taught to die,

But with our nobler part invades the sky. So

Then grieve no more that one so heavenly shaped

The crooked hand of trembling age escaped ;

Rather, since we beheld not her decay,

But that she vanished so entire away,

Her wondrous beauty, and her goodness, merit 85

We should suppose that some propitious spirit

In that celestial form frequented here,

And is not dead, but ceases to appear.



As lately I on silver Thames did ride,
Sad Galatea on the bank I spied ;
Such was her look as sorrow taught to shine,
And thus she graced me with a voice divine.


You that can tune your sounding strings so well, 5
Of ladies' beauties, and of love to tell,
Once change your note, and let your lute report
The justest grief that ever touched the Court.



Fair nymph ! I have in your delights no share,
Nor ought to be concerned in your care ; 10

Yet would I sing if I your sorrows* knew,
And to my aid invoke no muse but you.


Hear then, and let your song augment our grief,
Which is so great as not to wish relief.
She that had all which Natures gives, or Chance, 15
Whom Fortune joined with Virtue to advance
To all the joys this island could afford,
The greatest mistress, and the kindest lord ;
Who with the royal mixed her noble blood,
And in high grace with Gloriana stood ; 20

Her bounty, sweetness, beauty, goodness, such,
That none e'er thought her happiness too much ;
So well-inclined her favours to confer,
And kind to all, as Heaven had been to her !
The virgin's part, the mother, and the wife, 25

So well she acted in this span of life,
That though few years (too few, alas !) she told,
She seemed in all things, but in beauty, old.
As unripe fruit, whose verdant stalks do 1 cleave
Close to the tree, which grieves no less to leave 30

i. 1645, stalk does.


The smiling pendant which adorns her so,

And until autumn on the bough should grow ;

So seemed her youthful soul not easily forced,

Or from so fair, so sweet, a seat divorced.

Her fate at once dM hasty seem and slow ; 35

At once too cruel, and unwilling too.


Under how hard a law are mortals born !
Whom now we envy, we anon must mourn ;
What Heaven sets highest, and seems most to prize,
Is soon removed from our wondering eyes ! 40

But since the Sisters did so soon untwine
So fair a thread, I'll strive to piece the line.
Vouchsafe, sad nymph ! to let me know the dame,
And to the muses I'll commend her name ;
Make the wide country echo to your moan, 45

The listening trees and savage mountains groan.
What rock's not moved when the death is sung
Of one so good, so lovely, and so young?


'Twas Hamilton ! whom I had named before,
But naming her, grief lets me say no more. 50



SUCH was Philoclea, such Musidorus' flame ! 1

The matchless Sidney, that immortal frame

Of perfect beauty on two pillars placed ;

Not his high fancy could one pattern, graced

With such extremes of excellence, compose ; 5

Wonders so distant in one face disclose !

Such cheerful modesty, such humble state,

Moves certain love, but with a 2 doubtful fate

As when, beyond our greedy reach, we see

Inviting fruit on too sublime a tree. 10

All the rich flowers through his Arcadia found,

Amazed we see in this one garland bound.

Had but this copy (which the artist took

From the fair picture of that noble book)

Stood at Calander's, the brave friends had jarred, 15

And, rivals made, the ensuing story marred.

Just nature, first instructed by his thought,

In his own house thus practised what he taught ;

This glorious piece transcends what he could think,

So much his blood is nobler than his ink ! 20

i. 1645, Suck was Pkilocleas, tuck Dorut' Jlatne.
3. 1664 and 1683, as.



RARE Artisan, whose pencil moves

Not our delights alone, but loves !

From thy shop of beauty we

Slaves return, that entered free.

The heedless lover does not know 5

Whose eyes they are that wound him so ;

But, confounded with thy art,

Inquires her name that has his heart.

Another, who did long refrain,

Feels his old wound bleed fresh again 10

With dear remembrance of that face,

Where now he reads new hopes of grace :

Nor scorn nor cruelty does find,

But gladly suffers a false wind

To blow the ashes of despair 1 5

From the reviving brand of care.

Fool ! that forgets her stubborn look

This softness from thy finger took.

Strange ! that thy hand should not inspire

The beauty only, but the fire ; 20

Not the form alone, and grace,

But act and power of a face.

Mayst thou yet thyself as well,


As all the world besides, excel !

So you the unfeigned truth rehearse 25

(That I may make it live in verse)

Why thou couldst not at one assay,

That face to aftertimes convey,

Which this admires. Was it thy wit

To make her oft before thee sit ? 30

Confess, and we'll forgive thee this ;

For who would not repeat that bliss ?

And frequent sight of such a dame

Buy with the hazard of his fame ?

Vet who can tax thy blameless skill, 35

Though thy good hand had failed still,

When nature's self so often errs ?

She for this many thousand years

Seems to have practised with much care,

To frame the race of women fair ; 40

Yet never could a perfect birth

Produce before to grace the earth,

Which waxed old ere it could see

Her that amazed thy art and thee.

But now 'tis done, O let me know 45

Where those immortal colours grow,
That could this deathless piece compose !
In lilies ? or the fading rose ?
No ; for this theft thou hast climbed higher
Than did Prometheus for his fire. 50



HAD Sacharissa 1 lived when mortals made

Choice of their deities, this sacred shade

Had held an altar to her 2 power, that gave

The peace and glory which these alleys have ;

Embroidered so with flowers where she stood, 5

That it became a garden of a wood.

Her presence has such more than human grace,

That it can civilize the rudest place ;

And beauty too, and order, can impart,

Where nature ne'er intended it, nor art. 10

The plants acknowledge this, and her admire,

No less than those of old did Orpheus' lyre ;

If she sit down, with tops all towards her bowed,

They round about her into arbours crowd ;

Or if she walk, in even ranks they stand, 15

Like some well-marshalled and obsequious band.

Amphion so made stones and timber leap

Into fair figures from a confused heap ;

And in the symmetry of her parts is found

A power like that of harmony in sound. 20

Ye lofty beeches, tell this matchless dame,
That if together ye fed all one flame,

i. 1645, Dorothea. 2. 1645, the.


It could not equalize the hundredth part

Of what her eyes have kindled in my heart !

Go, boy, and carve this passion on the bark 25

Of yonder tree, which stands the sacred mark

Of noble Sidney's birth ; when such benign,

Such more than mortal making stars did shine,

That there they cannot but for ever prove

The monument and pledge of humble love ; 30

His humble love whose hope shall ne'er rise higher,

Than for a pardon that he dares admire.


NOT that thy trees at Penshurst groan,
Oppressed with their timely load,
And seem to make their silent moan,
That their great lord is now abroad :
They to delight his taste, or eye,
Would spend themselves in fruit, and die.

Not that thy harmless deer repine,

And think themselves unjustly slain

By any other hand than thine,

Whose arrows they would gladly stain ;

No, nor thy friends, which hold too dear

That peace with France which keeps thee there.


All these are less than that great cause

Which now exacts your presence here,

Wherein there meet the divers laws 15

Of public and domestic care.

For one bright nymph our youth contends,

And on your prudent choice depends.

Not the bright shield of Thetis' son,

(For which such stern debate did rise, 20

That the great Ajax Telamon

Refused to live without the prize)

Those Achive peers did more engage,

Than she the gallants of our age.

That beam of beauty, which begun 25

To warm us so when thou wert here,

Now scorches like the raging sun,

When Sirius does first appear.

O fix this flame ! and let despair

Redeem the rest from endless care. 30



No wonder sleep from careful lovers flies,

To bathe himself in Sacharissa's eyes.

As fair Astnea once from earth to heaven,

By strife and loud impiety was driven ;

So with our plaints offended, and our tears, 5

Wise Somnus to that paradise repairs ;

Waits on her will, and wretches does forsake,

To court the nymph for whom those wretches wake.

More proud than Phoebus of his throne of gold

Is the soft god those softer limbs to hold ; 10

Nor would exchange with Jove to hide the skies

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryEdmund WallerThe poems of Edmund Waller; → online text (page 7 of 21)