1645
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Apology of Sleep.

Poems, &c. written by Mr. Ed. Waller of Beckonsfield, Esquire; lately a Member of the honourable House of Commons. All the lyrick Poems in this Booke were set by Mr. Henry Lawes Gent. of the Kings Chappell, and one of his Majesties Private Musick.

Edmund Waller


Edmund Waller refers to Queen Henrietta Maria as "Gloriana." The full title is "The Apology of Sleep: for not approaching the Lady who can do any thing but Sleep when she pleaseth."

Thomas Warton: "Allegory notwithstanding abruptly discover'd itself once more with somewhat of its native splendor in the PURPLE ISLAND of Fletcher, with whom it almost as soon disappear'd; when a poetry succeeded in which imagination gave way to correctness; sublimity of description to delicacy of sentiment, and striking imagery to conceit and epigram. Poets began now to be more attentive to words, than things and objects; and a manner of expressing a thought prettily, was more regarded than that of conceiving one nobly. The Muses were debauch'd at court, and life and manners became their themes; insomuch that the simplicity and true Sublime of the PARADISE LOST, was by these triflers either totally disregarded, or else mistaken for insipidity, and bombast" Observations on the Faerie Queene (1754) 236-37.

Philip Neve: "He has borrowed the name of Gloriana, and a fine allusion to Prince Arthur's shield, from Spenser; but without mentioning him" Cursory Cursory Remarks on some of the ancient English Poets (1789) 62.

Universal Magazine: "Whatever commendation is due to Waller, is the very opposite to that of Milton. He is neither entitled to the praise of sublime invention, nor of exuberant fancy; but he is to be admired for the purity of his taste, and the harmony of his versification. His subjects are generally trifling; but he has the happy art of rendering even trifles interesting. His poetry was popular, because his thoughts are familiar, and seldom beyond the range of common life. It is a kind of colloquial poetry, in which that ingenuity which is most pleasing in conversation is predominant" 101 (November 1797) 322.

Edmund Gosse: "Waller, to whom is due the singular distinction of being the coryphaeus of this long procession of the commonplace, was a very wealthy landlord of Buckinghamshire. He entered Parliament at an early age, held completely aloof from the active literary life of his contemporaries, and seemed interested in anything rather than in poetry. His earliest verses, dated apparently in 1623, possess the formal character, the precise prosody without irregularity or overflow, which we find in the ordinary verse of Dryden, Pope, and Darwin. To so great an extent it this true, that a passage of Waller's earliest heroics, if compared at the same time with a typical passage from one of his coevals, such as Carew or Crashaw, and with one from Darwin's Botanic Garden of 1789, would be recognised at once as bearing a closer relation to the latter than to the former. In other words, we hold in Waller's earliest occasional pieces the key to the prosody of the eighteenth century, to what Mr. Ruskin has very happily called 'the symmetrical clauses of Pope's logical metre.' For many years Waller was entirely unsupported in this innovation, and his persistence in setting his face against the fashion of his own age is very curious. About 1632 he began to court Lady Dorothy Sidney in a cycle of poems, under the name of Sacharissa, and some of these lyrics were, and still remain, justly popular. They are remarkable for grace, and for a curious felicity in diction; in them he escapes from his self-imposed chain of the couplet. Waller plotted to reinstate the king, and in 1644 was heavily fined and banished to France" History of Eighteenth-Century Literature (1889) 3-4.

W. J. Courthope: "On the whole, three forms of poetical diction had asserted themselves in England as just modes for determining the character of the Illustrious Vulgar Tongue. The first was Spenser's principle of archaic revival which, in the form of Allegory, commended itself to such conservative intellects as strove to retain at least the image of chivalry and scholastic theology. But this clearly was not conformable to the ordinary usages of English speech; and still less so was the second form, viz. the Metaphysical manner, exemplified in the style of Donne or Cowley, which, springing out of the decay of Scholastic Logic, carried imagination away from the sphere of common sense. Both of these literary fashions, being founded too exclusively on conscious literary experiment, showed a tendency to rapid exhaustion. It was not so with the third form, namely Waller's adaptation of the heroic couplet to the purpose of courtly compliment" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 5:90-91.



My charge it is, those breaches to repaire
Which nature takes from sorrow, toil and care,
Rest to the limbs and quiet, I confer
On troubled minds; but nought can adde to her
Whom heaven and her transcendent thoughts have plac'd
Above those ills which wretched mortals taste.

Bright as the deathlesse gods, and happy she
From all that may infringe delight, is free:
Love at her Royall feet his quiver layes,
And not his mother with more haste obeyes.
Such reall pleasures, such true joyes suspence,
What dream can I present to recompence?

Should I with lightning fill her awfull hands,
And make the clouds seem all at her commands;
Or place her in Olimpus top, a guest
Among th' mortalls who with Nectar feast:
That power would seem that entertaining short
Of the true splendor of her present Court;
Where all the joyes and all the glories are
Of three great Kingdomes, sever'd from the care.
I that of fumes and humid vapours made,
Ascending doe the seat of sense invade.
No cloud so serene a mansion finde
To over-cast her ever shining minde,
Which holds resemblance with those spotlesse skies,
Where flowing Nilus want of raine supplies.
That christal heaven, where Phoebus never shrouds
His golden beams, nor wraps his face in clouds.

But what so hard which numbers cannot force,
So stoops the moon, and rivers change their course.
The bold Moeonian made me dare to sleep
Joves dreadful temples in the dew of sleep.
And since the Muses do invoke my power,
I shall no more decline that sacred bower
Where Gloriana their great mistresse lyes,
But gently taming those victorious eyes,
Charme all her senses; till the joyfull Sun
Without a rivall halfe his course has run:
Who while my hand that fairer light confines
May boast himselfe the brightest thing that shines.

[pp. 13-14]