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
 
Verses to her Royal Highness the Duchess [of York]
By John Dryden (1631–1700)
 
On the Memorable Victory gained by the Duke against the Hollanders, June 3, 1665, 1 and on her Journey afterwards into the North.

    MADAM,
When for our sakes your hero you resigned
To swelling seas and every faithless wind,
When you released his courage and set free
A valour fatal to the enemy,
You lodged your country’s cares within your breast,        5
The mansion where soft love should only rest,
And, ere our foes abroad were overcome,
The noblest conquest you had gained at home.
Ah, what concerns did both your souls divide!
Your honour gave us what your love denied:        10
And ’twas for him much easier to subdue
Those foes he fought with than to part from you.
That glorious day, which two such navies saw
As each unmatched might to the world give law,
Neptune, yet doubtful whom he should obey,        15
Held to them both the trident of the sea:
The winds were hushed, the waves in ranks were cast
As awfully as when God’s people past,
Those yet uncertain on whose sails to blow,
These where the wealth of nations ought to flow.        20
Then with the Duke your Highness ruled the day;
While all the brave did his command obey,
The fair and pious under you did pray.
How powerful are chaste vows! the wind and tide
You bribed to combat on the English side.        25
Thus to your much-loved lord you did convey
An unknown succour, sent the nearest way;
New vigour to his wearied arms you brought
(So Moses was upheld while Israel fought,)
While from afar we heard the cannon play,        30
Like distant thunder on a shiny day.
For absent friends we were ashamed to fear,
When we considered what you ventured there.
Ships, men, and arms our country might restore,
But such a leader could supply no more.        35
With generous thoughts of conquest he did burn,
Yet fought not more to vanquish than return.
Fortune and victory he did pursue
To bring them as his slaves to wait on you:
Thus beauty ravished the rewards of fame,        40
And the fair triumphed when the brave o’ercame.
Then, as you meant to spread another way
By land your conquests far as his by sea,
Leaving our southern clime, you marched along
The stubborn North, ten thousand Cupids strong.        45
Like Commons, the nobility resort
In crowding heaps to fill your moving court:
To welcome your approach the vulgar run,
Like some new envoy from the distant sun,
And country beauties by their lovers go,        50
Blessing themselves and wondering at the show.
So, when the new-born phœnix first is seen,
Her feathered subjects all adore their queen,
And while she makes her progress through the East,
From every grove her numerous train’s increast;        55
Each poet of the air her glory sings,
And round him the pleased audience clap their wings.
 
Note 1. James Duke of York’s naval victory off Lowestoft. [back]
 
 
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