1687 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Waller

William Winstanley, Lives of the Most Famous English Poets (1687) 183-85.



This Gentleman is one of the most fam'd Poets, and that not undeservedly of the present age, excelling in the charming Sweets of his Lyrick Odes, or amorous Sonnets, as also in his other occasional Poems both smooth and strenuous, rich of Conceit, and eloquently adorned with proper Similes: view his abilities in this Poem of his, concerning the Puisance of our Navies, and the English Dominion at Sea.

Lords of the Worlds great Wast, the Ocean, we
Whole Forrests send to reign upon the Sea;
And every Coast may trouble or relieve,
But none can visit us without our leave;
Angels and we have this Prerogative,
That none can at our happy Seat arrive,
While we descend at pleasure to invade
The bad with Vengeance, or the good to aid:
Our little world the image of the great,
Like that amidst the boundless Ocean set,
Of her own growth has all that Nature craves,
And all that's rare as Tribute from the waves.
As Aegypt does not on the Clouds rely,
But to her Nyle owes more then to the sky;
So what our Earth, and what our Heaven denies,
Our ever constant friend, the Sea supplies.
The tast of hot Arabia's Spice we know,
Free from the Scorching Sun that makes it grow;
Without the worm, in Persian Silks we shine,
And without Planting drink of every Vine;
To dig for wealth we weary not our limbs,
Gold, though the heaviest mettal, hither swims.
Ours is the Harvest where the Indians mow,
We plough the deep, and reap what others Sow.

I shall only add two lines more of his, quoted by several Authors.

All that the Angels do above,
Is that they sing, and that they love.

In sum, this our Poet was not Inferior to Carew, Lovelace, nor any of those who were accounted the brightest Stars in the Firmament of Poetry.