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 Gondibert
By Sir William Davenant (1606–1668)
 
[From Book I. Canto 6.]

SOON they the palace reached of Astragon,
  Which had its beauty hid by envious night,
Whose cypress curtain, drawn before the sun,
  Seemed to perform the obsequies of light.
 
Yet light’s last rays were not entirely spent,        5
  For they discerned their passage through a gate,
Whose height and space showed ancient ornament,
  And ancients there in careful office sate.
 
Who by their weights and measures did record
  Such numerous burdens as were thither brought        10
From distant regions, to their learned lord,
  On which his chymics and distillers wrought.
 
But now their common business they refrain,
  When they observe a quiet sullenness
And bloody marks in such a civil train,        15
  Which showed at once their worth and their distress.
 
The voice of Ulfin they with gladness knew,
  Whom to this house long neighbourhood endeared;
Approaching torches perfected their view,
  And taught the way till Astragon appeared.        20
 
Who soon did Ulfin cheerfully embrace;
  The visit’s cause by whispers he received,
Which first he hoped was meant him as a grace,
  But being known, with manly silence grieved.
 
And then, with gestures full of grave respect,        25
  The Duke he to his own apartment led;
To each distinct retirement did direct,
  And all the wounded he ordained to bed.
 
Then thin digestive food he did provide,
  More to enable fleeting strength to stay,        30
To wounds well-searched he cleansing wines applied,
  And so prepared his ripening balsam’s way.
 
Balm of the warrior! herb Hypernicon!
  To warriors, as in use, in form decreed,
For, through the leaves, transparent wounds are shown,        35
  And rudely touched, the golden flower doth bleed.
 
For sleep they juice of pale Nymphæa took,
  Which grows, to show that it for sleep is good,
Near sleep’s abode in the soft murmuring brook,
  This cools, the yellow flower restrains the blood.        40
 
And now the weary world’s great medicine, Sleep,
  This learned host dispensed to every guest,
Which shuts those wounds where injured lovers weep,
  And flies oppressors to relieve the opprest.
 
It loves the cottage and from court abstains,        45
  It stills the seaman though the storm be high,
Frees the grieved captive in his closest chains,
  Stops Want’s loud mouth, and blinds the treacherous spy.
 
 
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