1650 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Davenant

Edmund Waller, "To Sir William D'Avenant, upon his two first Books of Gondibert" Davenant, A Discourse upon Gondibert (1650) sig. A2-A2v.



Thus the wise Nightingale that leaves her home,
Her native wood, when storms and winter come,
Pursuing constantly the cheerfull Spring
To forreign Groves do's her old Musick bring:

The drooping Hebrews banish'd Harps unstrung
At Babylon, upon the willows hung;
Yours sounds aloud, and tell's us you excell
No lesse in courage then in singing well:
Whilst unconcern'd you let your Countrey know,
They have impoverish'd themselves, not you:
Who with the Muses help can mock those fates
Which threaten Kingdoms, and disorder States.

So Ovid, when from Cesar's rage he fled,
The Roman Muse to Pontus with him led:
Where he so sung, that we through Pity's glass
See Nero milder then Augustus was.
Hereafter such in thy behalf shall be
Th' indulgent censure of Posterity.
To banish those who with such art can sing,
Is a rude crime which its own curse do's bring.
Ages to come shall ne're know how they fought
Nor how to love their present youth be taught.
This to thy Selfe. Now to thy matchlesse Book,
Wherein those few that can with judgement look
May find old Love in pure fresh language told,
Like new stampt coin made out of Angel gold.
Such truth in Love as th' antick world did know
In such a style as Courts may boast of now.
Which no bold tales of Gods or Monsters swell
But humane passions, such as with us dwell.
Man is thy theme, his Virtue or his Rage
Drawn to the life in each elaborate Page.
Mars nor Bellona are not named here;
But such a Gondibert as both might fear.
Venus had here and Hebe been out-shin'd
By thy bright Birtha, and thy Rhodalind.
Such is thy happy skill, and such thy ods
Betwixt thy Worthies and the Grecian Gods.
Whose Deities in vain had here came down,
Where mortall beauty wears the soverign Crown:
Such as of flesh compos'd, by flesh and bloud
(Though not resisted) may be understood,
ED. WALLER.