1700 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Waller

Samuel Cobb, in Poetae Britannici (1700) 15-16.



When Scope is granted to your Speech and Thought,
Verse with a lively smoothness should be Wrote.
Like some fair Planet thy Majestick Song,
Should move with ease and Sparkle as it rowl'd along.
Like Waller's Muse, who, though inchain'd by Rhyme,
Taught Wondring Poets to keep even Chime.
Harmonious Waller's praise inflames my Breast,
Waller, more sweet and Courtly than the rest
Of Poets, no unmanly Turns pursues,
Rash Errors of an injudicious Muse.
Such Wit, like Lightning, for a while looks gay;
Just gilds the place, and vanishes away.
In one continued blaze he upwards sprung,
Like those Seraphick Flames of which he Sung.
If, Cromwell, he laments thy mighty Fall
Nature attending Weeps at the great Funeral.
Or if his Muse with joyful Triumph brings,
The Monarch to his ancient Throne; or Sings
Batavians worsted on the Conquer'd Main,
Fleets flying, and Advent'rous Opdam Slain;
Then Rome and Athens to his Song repair,
With Brittish Graces Smiling on his care,
Divinely Charming in a Dress so fair.
As Squadrons in well-Marshal'd Order fill,
The Flandrian Plains, and speak no vulgar Skill:
So rank'd is every line, each Sentence such,
No Word is wanting, and no Word's too much.
As Pearls in Gold with their own lustre shine,
The Substance precious, and the Work Divine.
So did his Words his beauteous Thoughts enchase,
Both shone and sparkled with unborrow'd Grace,
A mighty value in a little space.
So the Venusian Clio sung of Old,
When lofty Acts in well-chose Phrase she told.
But Rome's aspiring Lyrick mov'd us less,
Sung not so moving, tho' with more success.
O Sacharissa, what could steel thy breast,
To Rob the charming Waller of his rest?
To send him murm'ring through the Cypress Grove,
In strains lamenting his Neglected Love.
The attentive Forest did his Grief partake,
And Sympathizing Okes their knotted Branches shake.
Each Nymph, tho' coy, to pity would incline,
And every stubborn Heart was mov'd but Thine.
Hence forth be thou to future Ages known,
Like Niobe, a Monument of Stone.