1645
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thirsis, Galatea.

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." "Hamilton" is Lady Mary Fielding, who in 1620 married James, first Duke of Hamilton, who died 10 May 1638.

Samuel Johnson: "Of these petty compositions, neither the beauties nor the faults deserve much attention. The amorous verses have this to recommend them, that they are less hyperbolical than those of some other poets. Waller is not always at the last gasp; he does not die of a frown, nor live upon a smile. There is however too much love, and too many trifles. Little things are made too important; and the Empire of Beauty is represented as exerting its influence further than can be allowed by the multiplicity of human passions and the variety of human wants. Such books therefore may be considered as shewing the world under a false appearance, and, so far as they obtain credit from the young and unexperienced, as misleading expectation and misguiding practice" Lives of the English Poets (1779-81); ed. Hill (1905) 1:287.

Universal Magazine: "Of his airy and light productions, the chief source is gallantry; that attentive reverence of female excellence which has descended to us from the Gothic ages. As his poems are commonly occasional, and his addresses personal, he was not so liberally furnished with grand as with soft images; for beauty is more easily found than magnaminity" in "History of Knowledge, Learning, and Taste" 109 (December 1801) 404-05.

William Hazlitt: "Waller belonged to the same class as Suckling — the sportive, the sparkling, the polished, with fancy, wit, elegance of style, and easiness of versification at his command. Poetry was the plaything of his idle hours — the mistress, to whom he addressed his verses, was his real Muse. His lines on the Death of Oliver Cromwell are however serious, and even sublime" Select British Poets (1824) in Works, ed. Howe (1932) 9:237.

Henry Neele: "The number and beauty of the lyrical poems produced in the age of Elizabeth, are such that I cannot attempt to give any adequate notion of them by extracts. Their grand distinguishing features are originality of thought, and elegance of versification. Donne, Sydney, Raleigh, Carew, Herrick, Crashaw, Suckling, Waller, and others, form an unrivalled school of lyrical poetry, which existed in this country from the days of Elizabeth to those of Charles: and it is perfectly unaccountable, that, possessing so many gems of the purest poetry, the public taste should afterward have sunk into such a state of utter debasement, as to be gratified by the sickening commonplaces of Lansdowne, Walsh, and Halifax"Russell Institution Lectures on English Poetry, 1827; in Remains (1829) 134.

Thomas Babington Macaulay: "By the extinction of the drama, the fashionable school of poetry, — a school without truth of sentiment or harmony of versification, — without the powers of an earlier, or the correctness of a later age, — was left to enjoy undisputed ascendency. A vicious ingenuity, a morbid quickness to perceive resemblances and analogies between things apparently heterogeneous, constituted almost its only claim to admiration. Suckling was lead. Milton was absorbed in political and theological controversy. If Waller differed from the Cowleian sect of writers, he differed for the worse. He had as little poetry as they, and much less wit; nor is the languor of his verses less offensive than the ruggedness of theirs. In Denham alone the faint dawn of a better manner was discernible" "Dryden" Edinburgh Review 47 (January 1828) 18.

George Saintsbury: "More than half the modern readers who are indignant with 'Waller was smooth' are so because their ideal of smoothness and Pope's or Johnson's are two quite different things. And as there seems to be no means of ascertaining when such pieces as the 'Santander' poem were written, it skills very little to produce such and such a verse, or such and such verses, of Beaumont, Drummond, Fairfax, and others back to Drayton, or (as can be done) Spenser himself, which have the Wallerian quality. It can be done; it has been done; it has been done here; and there's an end of it" History of English Prosody (1906-10) 2:280-81.

There is another allusion to Gloriana in Waller's "Puerperium" p. 70.



THIRSIS.
As lately I on Silver Thames did ride,
Sad Galatea, on the banck I spy'd:
Such was her looke as sorrow taught to shine,
And thus she grac't me with a voice divine.

GALATEA.
You that can tune your sounding strings so well
Of Ladies beauties, and of love to tell;
Once change your note, and let your Lute report
The justest griefe that ever touch't the Court.

THIRSIS.
Fair Nymph, I have in your delights no share,
Nor ought to be concerned in your care:
Yet would I sing if I your sorrows knew,
And to my aid invoke no Muse but you.

GALATEA.
Hear then, and let your song augment our grief,
Which is so great as not to wish reliefe:
She that had all which nature gives or chance,
Whom fortune joyn'd with vertue to advance,
To all the joyes this Island could afford
The greatest Mistris, and the kindest Lord:
Who with the Royall mixt her Noble bloud,
And in high grace with Gloriana stood.
Her bounty, sweetnes, beauty, goodnes, such.
That none ere thought her happines too much:
So well inclin'd her favours to confer,
And kinde to all, as Heaven had bin to her;
The virgins part, the mother, and the wife,
So well she acted in this span of life;
That though few years (too few alas) she told,
She seem'd in all things but in beauty old.
As unripe fruit, whose verdant stalks doe cleave
Close to the tree, which grieves no lesse to leave
The smiling pendant which adornes her so,
And untill Autumne, on the bough should grow:
So seem'd her youthfull soul not easily forc't,
Or from so fair, so sweet a seat divorc't:
Her fate at once did hasty seem and slow,
At once too cruell and unwilling too.

THIRSIS.
Under how hard a law are mortalls born,
Whom now we engage, we anon must mourn:
What Heaven sets highest, and seems not to prize,
Is soon removed from our wondring eyes:
But since the sisters did so soon untwine
So fair a thread, Ile strive to peece the line.
Vouchsafe sad Nymph to let me know the Dame,
And to the Muses Ile commend her name:
Make the wide Country eccho to your moan,
The listning trees and savage mountains groan:
What rocks not moved when death is sung
Of one so good, so lovely, and so young.

GALATEA.
'Twas Hamilton whom I had nam'd before,
But naming her; griefe lets me say no more.

[pp. 49-51]