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JOHN DRYDEN

1631-1700

411                                                      Ode

                                    To the Pious Memory of the accomplished young lady, Mrs. Anne
                                            Killigrew, excellent in the two sister arts of Poesy and
                                           Painting

   THOU youngest virgin-daughter of the skies,
   Made in the last promotion of the blest;
Whose palms, new pluckd from Paradise,
In spreading branches more sublimely rise,
   Rich with immortal green above the rest:
Whether, adopted to some neighbouring star,
Thou rollst above us, in thy wandering race,
   Or, in procession fixt and regular,
   Movd with the heavens majestic pace;
   Or, calld to more superior bliss,
Thou treadst with seraphims the vast abyss:
Whatever happy region is thy place,
Cease thy celestial song a little space;
Thou wilt have time enough for hymns divine,
   Since Heavens eternal year is thine.
Hear, then, a mortal Muse thy praise rehearse,
         In no ignoble verse;
But such as thy own voice did practise here,
When thy first-fruits of Poesy were given,
To make thyself a welcome inmate there;
   While yet a young probationer,
         And candidate of Heaven.
   If by traduction came thy mind,
   Our wonder is the less, to find
A soul so charming from a stock so good;
Thy father was transfusd into thy blood:
So wert thou born into the tuneful strain,
An early, rich, and inexhausted vein.
   But if thy pre-existing soul
   Was formd at first with myriads more,
It did through all the mighty poets roll
   Who Greek or Latin laurels wore,
   And was that Sappho last, which once it was before.
   If so, then cease thy flight, O heaven-born mind!
   Thou hast no dross to purge from thy rich ore:
      Nor can thy soul a fairer mansion find,
   Than was the beauteous frame she left behind:
Return, to fill or mend the quire of thy celestial kind.
   May we presume to say, that, at thy birth,
New joy was sprung in heaven as well as here on earth?
   For sure the milder planets did combine
   On thy auspicious horoscope to shine,
   And even the most malicious were in trine.
    Thy brother-angels at thy birth
      Strung each his lyre, and tund it high,
      That all the people of the sky
   Might know a poetess was born on earth;
      And then, if ever, mortal ears
   Had heard the music of the spheres.
   And if no clustring swarm of bees
   On thy sweet mouth distilld their golden dew,
      Twas that such vulgar miraclàes
      Heaven had not leisure to renew:
   For all the blest fraternity of love
Solemnizd there thy birth, and kept thy holiday above.
   O gracious God! how far have we
Profand thy heavenly gift of Poesy!
Made prostitute and profligate the Muse,
Debasd to each obscene and impious use,
Whose harmony was first ordaind above,
For tongues of angels and for hymns of love!
O wretched we! why were we hurried down
   This lubrique and adulterate age
(Nay, added fat pollutions of our own),
   To increase the streaming ordures of the stage?
What can we say to excuse our second fall?
Let this thy Vestal, Heaven, atone for all!
Her Arethusian stream remains unsoild,
   Unmixt with foreign filth, and undefild;
Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child.
   Art she had none, yet wanted none,
      For Nature did that want supply:
   So rich in treasures of her own,
      She might our boasted stores defy:
Such noble vigour did her verse adorn,
That it seemd borrowd, where twas only born.
Her morals, too, were in her bosom bred,
   By great examples daily fed,
What in the best of books, her fathers life, she read.
   And to be read herself she need not fear;
   Each test, and every light, her Muse will bear,
   Though Epictetus with his lamp were there.
   Even love (for love sometimes her Muse exprest)
Was but a lambent flame which playd about her breast,
      Light as the vapours of a morning dream;
   So cold herself, whilst she such warmth exprest,
      Twas Cupid bathing in Dianas stream....
Now all those charms, that blooming grace,
The well-proportiond shape, and beauteous face,
Shall never more be seen by mortal eyes;
In earth the much-lamented virgin lies.
Not wit, nor piety could Fate prevent;
Nor was the cruel Destiny content
To finish all the murder at a blow,
To sweep at once her life and beauty too;
But, like a hardend felon, took a pride
   To work more mischievously slow,
   And plunderd first, and then destroyd.
O double sacrilege on things divine,
   To rob the relic, and deface the shrine!
            But thus Orinda died:
   Heaven, by the same disease, did both translate;
As equal were their souls, so equal was their fate.
   Meantime, her warlike brother on the seas
   His waving streamers to the winds displays,
And vows for his return, with vain devotion, pays.
   Ah, generous youth! that wish forbear,
   The winds too soon will waft thee here!
YSlack all thy sails, and fear to come,
Alas, thou knowst not, thou art wreckd at home!
No more shalt thou behold thy sisters face,
Thou hast already had her last embrace.
But look aloft, and if thou kennst from far,
Among the Pleiads a new kindld star,
If any sparkles than the rest more bright,
Tis she that shines in that propitious light.
When in mid-air the golden trump shall sound,
   To raise the nations under ground;
When, in the Valley of Jehoshaphat,
The judging God shall close the book of Fate,
   And there the last assizes keep
   For those who wake and those who sleep;
   When rattling bones together fly
   From the four corners of the sky;
When sinews oer the skeletons are spread,
Those clothd with flesh, and life inspires the dead;
The sacred Poets first shall hear the sound,
   And foremost from the tomb shall bound,
For they are coverd with the lightest ground;
And straight, with inborn vigour, on the wing,
Like mounting larks, to the new morning sing.
There thou, sweet Saint, before the quire shalt go,
As harbinger of Heaven, the way to show,
The way which thou so well hast learnd below.

412                            A Song for St. Cecilias Day, 1687

FROM harmony, from heavenly harmony,
      This universal frame began:
   When nature underneath a heap
      Of jarring atoms lay,
   And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
   Arise, ye more than dead!
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
   In order to their stations leap,
      And Musics power obey.
From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
   This universal frame began:
   From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
      When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
   His listening brethren stood around,
      And, wondering, on their faces fell
   To worship that celestial sound:
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell
      Within the hollow of that shell,
That spoke so sweetly, and so well.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
The trumpets loud clangour
   Excites us to arms,
With shrill notes of anger,
   And mortal alarms.
The double double double beat
      Of the thundering drum
      Cries Hark! the foes come;
Charge, charge, tis too late to retreat!
   The soft complaining flute,
   In dying notes, discovers
   The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisperd by the warbling lute.
      Sharp violins proclaim
   Their jealous pangs and desperation,
   Fury, frantic indignation,
   Depth of pains, and height of passion.
      For the fair, disdainful dame.
      But O, what art can teach,
      What human voice can reach,
         The sacred organs praise?
      Notes inspiring holy love,
   Notes that wing their heavenly ways
      To mend the choirs above.
   Orpheus could lead the savage race;
   And trees unrooted left their place,
      Sequacious of the lyre;
But bright Cecilia raisd the wonder higher:
   When to her organ vocal breath was given,
      An angel heard, and straight appeard
   Mistaking Earth for Heaven.
              GRAND CHORUS
As from the power of sacred lays
   The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creators praise
   To all the Blest above;
   So when the last and dreadful hour
   This crumbling pageant shall devour,
   The trumpet shall be heard on high,
   The dead shall live, the living die,
   And Music shall untune the sky!

413                                   One Happy Moment

NO, no, poor suffring Heart, no Change endeavour,
Choose to sustain the smart, rather than leave her;
My ravishd eyes behold such charms about her,
I can die with her, but not live without her:
One tender Sigh of hers to see me languish,
Will more than pay the price of my past anguish:
Beware, O cruel Fair, how you smile on me,
Twas a kind look of yours that has undone me.
Love has in store for me one happy minute,
And She will end my pain who did begin it;
Then no day void of bliss, or pleasure leaving,
Ages shall slide away without perceiving:
Cupid shall guard the door the more to please us,
And keep out Time and Death, when they would seize us:
Time and Death shall depart, and say in flying,
Love has found out a way to live, by dying.

414                                        Hidden Flame

I FEED a flame within, which so torments me
That it both pains my heart, and yet contents me:
Tis such a pleasing smart, and I so love it,
That I had rather die than once remove it.
Yet he, for whom I grieve, shall never know it;
My tongue does not betray, nor my eyes show it.
Not a sigh, nor a tear, my pain discloses,
But they fall silently, like dew on roses.
Thus, to prevent my Love from being cruel,
My hearts the sacrifice, as tis the fuel;
And while I suffer this to give him quiet,
My faith rewards my love, though he deny it.
On his eyes will I gaze, and there delight me;
While I conceal my love no frown can fright me.
To be more happy I dare not aspire,
Nor can I fall more low, mounting no higher.

415                                   Song to a Fair Young Lady, going
                                             out of the Town in the Spring

ASK not the cause why sullen Spring
   So long delays her flowers to bear;
Why warbling birds forget to sing,
   And winter storms invert the year:
Chloris is gone; and fate provides
To make it Spring where she resides.
Chloris is gone, the cruel fair;
   She cast not back a pitying eye:
But left her lover in despair
   To sigh, to languish, and to die:
Ah! how can those fair eyes endure
To give the wounds they will not cure!
Great God of Love, why hast thou made
   A face that can all hearts command,
That all religions can invade,
   And change the laws of every land?
Where thou hadst placd such power before,
Thou shouldst have made her mercy more.

When Chloris to the temple comes,
   Adoring crowds before her fall;
She can restore the dead from tombs
   And every life but mine recall.
I only am by Love designd
To be the victim for mankind.

 

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