Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
 
Extract from The Battle of the Summer’s Islands
By Edmund Waller (1606–1687)
 
SUCH is the mould that the blest tenant feeds
On precious fruits, and pays his rent in weeds;
With candied plantains, and the juicy pine,
On choicest melons and sweet grapes they dine,
And with potatoes fat their wanton swine;        5
Nature these cates with such a lavish hand
Pours out among them, that our coarser land
Tastes of that bounty, and does cloth return,
Which not for warmth but ornament is worn;
For the kind spring which but salutes us here,        10
Inhabits there and courts them all the year;
Ripe fruits and blossoms on the same trees live,
At once they promise what at once they give;
So sweet the air, so moderate the clime,
None sickly lives or dies before his time;        15
Heaven sure has kept this spot of earth uncurst
To show how all things were created first.
The tardy plants in our cold orchards placed
Reserve their fruits for the next age’s taste,
There a small grain in some few months will be        20
A firm, a lofty and a spacious tree;
The Palma Christi and the fair Papaw,
Now but a seed, preventing nature’s law,
In half the circle of the hasty year
Project a shade, and lovely fruits do wear;        25
And as their trees in our dull region set
But faintly grow and no perfection get,
So in this northern tract our hoarser throats
Utter unripe and ill-constrainèd notes,
Where, the supporter of the poet’s style,        30
Phoebus on them eternally does smile.
O how I long my careless limbs to lay
Under the plantain’s shade, and all the day
With amorous airs my fancy entertain,
Invoke the Muses, and improve my vein!        35
No passion there in my free breast should move,
None but the sweetest, best of passions, love!
There while I sing, if gentle Love be by,
That tunes my lute, and winds the strings so high;
With the sweet sound of Sacharissa’s name,        40
I ’ll make the listening savages grow tame:—
But while I do these pleasing dreams indite,
I am diverted from the promised fight.
 
 
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