1645
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

In Answer to [One who writ against a Fair Lady], &c.

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 alludes to Arthur's shield, as described in Faerie Queene 1.7.33. The lines apparently allude to Lucy Percy, Countess of Carlisle, previously addressed in "To the Countesse of Carlile in Mourning."

William Walsh: "Those who are conversant with the Writings of the Antients, will observe a great difference between what they, and the Moderns have publish'd upon this Subject. The occasions upon which the Poems of the former are written, are such as happen to every Man almost that is in Love; and the Thoughts such, as are natural for every Man in Love to think. The Moderns on the other hand have sought out for Occasions, that none meet with, but themselves; and fill their Verses with thoughts that are surprizing and glittering, but not tender, passionate, or natural to a Man in Love" preface to Letters and Poems (1692) Sig. A3.

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.

Bryan Waller Procter: "Waller is the first writer who made prose sound agreeably in rhyme. He was in truth an indifferent poet, — possessing little genius as an author, or principle as a man, and obtained a name chiefly by reducing verse to 'the level of the meanest capacity'" "English Poetry" Edinburgh Review 42 (April 1825) 60.

W. J. Courthope: "He may be acknowledged as the founder of the familiar style in complimentary poetry. He headed the reaction against the metaphysical style of Donne, the aim of whose followers always was to attract attention to themselves by the novelty rather than by the propriety of their thought, whereas Waller understood that the first principle in the art of poetry was to please the judicious reader. Without discarding the hyperbole, which was considered essential to poetical 'wit,' he sought to convey his flatteries in the language common to refined society, and he replaced the pedantic metaphors borrowed by Lyly from scholastic science, and the subtle conceits introduced by Jonson from the Alexandrian epigrammatists, by such classical allusions as were within the understanding of every well-read gentleman" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 3:275.

Poems, ed. G. Thorn Drury notes a line taken from Muipotmos in "Of the mis-report of her being painted": "When lavish nature from her best attire" (1893) 26.



What fury has provok't thy wit to dare
With Diomed, to wound the queen of love
Thy mistris envy, or thine owne despair?
Not the just Pallus in thy breast did move,
So blind a rage with such a different fate,
He honour won, where thou hast purchast hate.

She gave assistance to his Trojan foe;
Thou that without a rivall thou maiest love,
Dost to the beauty of thy Lady owe,
While after her the gazing world does move.
Canst thou not be content to love alone,
Or is thy mistris not content with one?

Hast thou not read of Arthur's shield,
Which but disclos'd, amaz'd the weaker eyes
Of proudest foe, and won the doubtfull field?
So shall thy Rebell wit become her prize.
Should thy Iambecks swell into a book,
All were confuted with one Radiant look.

Heaven he oblig'd that place here in the skies,
Rewarding Phoebus, for inspiring so
His noble braine by likening to those eyes
His joyfull beams, but Phoebus is thy foe:
And neither ayds thy fancy nor thy sight,
So ill thou rim'st against so faire a light.

[pp. 17-18]