Edmund Waller (3 March 1606 – 21 October 1687 / Coleshill / Buckinghamshire / England)
[To my Lord Protector, of the Present Greatness, and Joint Interest, of His Highness, and this Nation.]
While with a strong and yet a gentle hand,
You bridle faction, and our hearts command,
Protect us from ourselves, and from the foe,
Make us unite, and make us conquer too;
Let partial spirits still aloud complain,
Think themselves injured that they cannot reign,
And own no liberty but where they may
Without control upon their fellows prey.
Above the waves as Neptune showed his face,
To chide the winds, and save the Trojan race,
So has your Highness, raised above the rest,
Storms of ambition, tossing us, repressed.
Your drooping country, torn with civil hate,
Restored by you, is made a glorious state;
The seat of empire, where the Irish come,
And the unwilling Scotch, to fetch their doom.
The sea's our own; and now all nations greet,
With bending sails, each vessel of our fleet;
Your power extends as far as winds can blow,
Or swelling sails upon the globe may go.
Heaven, (that has placed this island to give law,
To balance Europe, and her states to awe)
In this conjunction does on Britain smile;
The greatest leader, and the greatest isle!
Whether this portion of the world were rent,
By the rude ocean, from the continent;
Or thus created; it was sure designed
To be the sacred refuge of mankind.
Hither the oppressed shall henceforth resort,
Justice to crave, and succour, at your court;
And then your Highness, not for ours alone,
But for the world's protector shall be known.
Fame, swifter than your winged navy, flies
Through every land that near the ocean lies,
Sounding your name, and telling dreadful news
To all that piracy and rapine use.
With such a chief the meanest nation blessed,
Might hope to lift her head above the rest;
What may be thought impossible to do
For us, embraced by the sea and you?
Lords of the world's great waste, the ocean, we
Whole forests send to reign upon the sea,
And every coast may trouble, or relieve;
But none can visit us without your leave.
Angels and we have this prerogative,
That none can at our happy seat arrive;
While we descend at pleasure, to invade
The bad with vengeance, and the good to aid.
Our little world, the image of the great,
Like that, amidst the boundless ocean set,
Of her own growth has all that Nature craves;
And all that's rare, as tribute from the waves.
As Egypt does not on the clouds rely,
But to her Nile owes more than to the sky;
So what our earth, and what our heaven, denies,
Our ever constant friend, the sea, supplies.
The taste of hot Arabia's spice we know,
Free from the scorching sun that makes it grow;
Without the worm, in Persian silks we shine;
And, without planting, drink of every vine.
To dig for wealth we weary not our limbs;
Gold, though the heaviest metal, hither swims;
Ours is the harvest where the Indians mow;
We plough the deep, and reap what others sow.
Things of the noblest kind our own soil breeds;
Stout are our men, and warlike are our steeds;
Rome, though her eagle through the world had flown,
Could never make this island all her own.
Here the Third Edward, and the Black Prince, too,
France-conquering Henry flourished, and now you;
For whom we stayed, as did the Grecian state,
Till Alexander came to urge their fate.
When for more worlds the Macedonian cried,
He wist not Thetis in her lap did hide
Another yet; a world reserved for you,
To make more great than that he did subdue.
He safely might old troops to battle lead,
Against the unwarlike-Persian, and the Mede,
Whose hasty flight did, from the bloodless field,
More spoil than honour to the victor yield.
A race unconquered, by their clime made bold,
The Caledonians, armed with want and cold,
Have, by a fate indulgent to your fame,
Been from all ages kept for you to tame.
Whom the old Roman wall so ill confined,
With a new chain of garrisons you bind;
Here foreign gold no more shall make them come;
Our English iron holds them fast at home.
They, that henceforth must be content to know
No warmer region, than their hills of snow,
May blame the sun, but must extol your grace,
Which in our senate has allowed them place.
Preferred by conquest, happily o'erthrown,
Falling they rise, to be with us made one;
So kind dictators made, when they came home,
Their vanquished foes free citizens of Rome.
Like favour find the Irish, with like fate,
Advanced to be a portion of our state;
While by your valour and your courteous mind,
Nations, divided by the sea, are joined.
Holland, to gain your friendship, is content
To be our outguard on the continent;
She from her fellow-provinces would go,
Rather than hazard to have you her foe.
In our late fight, when cannons did diffuse,
Preventing posts, the terror and the news,
Our neighbour princes trembled at their roar;
But our conjunction makes them tremble more.
Your never-failing sword made war to cease;
And now you heal us with the arts of peace;
Our minds with bounty and with awe engage,
Invite affection, and restrain our rage.
Less pleasure take brave minds in battles won,
Than in restoring such as are undone;
Tigers have courage, and the rugged bear,
But man alone can, whom he conquers, spare.
To pardon willing, and to punish loath,
You strike with one hand, but you heal with both;
Lifting up all that prostrate lie, you grieve
You cannot make the dead again to live.
When fate, or error. had our age misled,
And o'er these nations such confusion spread,
The only cure, which could from Heaven come down,
Was so much power and clemency in one!
One! whose extraction from an ancient line
Gives hope again that well-born men may shine;
The meanest in your nature, mild and good,
The noble rest secured in your blood.
Oft have we wondered how you hid in peace
A mind proportioned to such things as these;
How such a ruling spirit you could restrain,
And practise first over yourself to reign.
Your private life did a just pattern give,
How fathers, husbands, pious sons should live;
Born to command, your princely virtues slept,
Like humble David's, while the flock he kept.
But when your troubled country called you forth,
Your flaming courage, and your matchless worth,
Dazzling the eyes of all that did pretend,
To fierce contention gave a prosperous end.
Still as you rise, the state, exalted too,
Finds no distemper while 'tis changed by you;
Changed like the world's great scene! when, without noise,
The rising sun night's vulgar light destroys.
Had you, some ages past, this race of glory
Run, with amazement we should read your story;
But living virtue, all achievements past,
Meets envy still, to grapple with at last.
This Cæsar found; and that ungrateful age,
With losing him fell back to blood and rage;
Mistaken Brutus thought to break their yoke,
But cut the bond of union with that stroke.
That sun once set, a thousand meaner stars
Gave a dim light to violence, and wars,
To such a tempest as now threatens all,
Did not your mighty arm prevent the fall.
If Rome's great senate could not wield that sword,
Which of the conquered world had made them lord,
What hope had ours, while yet their power was new,
To rule victorious armies, but by you?
You! that had taught them to subdue their foes,
Could order teach, and their high spirits compose;
To every duty could their minds engage,
Provoke their courage, and command their rage.
So when a lion shakes his dreadful mane,
And angry grows, if he that first took pain
To tame his youth approach the haughty beast,
He bends to him, but frights away the rest.
As the vexed world, to find repose, at last
Itself into Augustus' arms did cast;
So England now does, with like toil oppressed,
Her weary head upon your bosom rest.
Then let the Muses, with such notes as these,
Instruct us what belongs unto our peace;
Your battles they hereafter shall indite,
And draw the image of our Mars in fight;
Tell of towns stormed, or armies overrun,
And mighty kingdoms by your conduct won;
How, while you thundered, clouds of dust did choke
Contending troops, and seas lay hid in smoke.
Illustrious acts high raptures do infuse,
And every conqueror creates a muse.
Here, in low strains, your milder deeds we sing;
But there, my lord; we'll bays and olive bring
To crown your head; while you in triumph ride
O'er vanquished nations, and the sea beside;
While all your neighbour-princes unto you,
Like Joseph's sheaves, pay reverence, and bow.
Edmund Waller's Other Poems
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- At Penshurst
- Go, lovely rose!
- Of English Verse
- Of My Lady Isabella Playing on the Lute
- Of the Last Verses in the Book
- Old Age
- On a Girdle
- On Tea
- On the Friendship Betwixt Two Ladies
- Song - Say, Lovely Dream
- Song - Stay, Phoebus, stay!
- Song: Go, lovely rose!
- The Battle of the Summer Islands : Canto...
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