Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
A Poem upon the Death of His Late Highness, Oliver, Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland
[Heroick Stanza’s]
Heroick Stanza’s,
Consecrated to the Memory of His Highness,

Late Lord Protector
of This
Commonwealth, &c.

Written after the Celebrating of His Funeral.

AND 1 now ’tis time; for their officious haste,
  Who would before have born him to the Sky,
Like eager Romans e’er all Rites were past,
  Did let too soon the sacred Eagle fly.
Though our best Notes are Treason to his Fame,
  Join’d with the loud Applause of publick Voice,
Since Heaven, what Praise we offer to his Name,
  Hath render’d too Authentick by its Choice.
Though in his Praise no Arts can liberal be,
  Since they, whose Muses have the highest flown,        10
Add not to his Immortal Memory;
  But do an Act of Friendship to their own.
Yet ’tis our Duty and our Interest too,
  Such Monuments as we can build, to raise;
Lest all the World prevent what we shou’d do,        15
  And claim a Title in him by their Praise.
How shall I then begin, or where conclude,
  To draw a Fame so truly Circular?
For in a Round, what Order can be shew’d,
  Where all the Parts so equal perfect are?        20
His Grandeur he derived from Heav’n alone,
  For he was great, e’er Fortune made him so;
And Wars, like Mists that rise against the Sun,
  Made him but greater seem, not greater grow.
No borrow’d Bays his Temples did adorn,
  But to our Crown he did fresh Jewels bring;
Nor was his Vertue poison’d, soon as born,
  With the too early Thoughts of being King.
Fortune (that easie Mistress of the Young,
  But to her ancient Servants coy and hard)        30
Him, at that Age, her Favourites ranked among,
  When she her best-lov’d Pompey did discard.
He, private, marked the Faults of others Sway,
  And set as Sea-marks for himself to shun;
Not like rash Monarchs, who their Youth betray        35
  By Acts their Age too late wou’d wish undone.
And yet Dominion was not his Design;
  We owe that Blessing not to him, but Heav’n,
Which to fair Acts unsought Rewards did join,
  Rewards that less to him, than us, were giv’n.        40
Our former Chiefs, like Sticklers of the War,
  First sought t’ inflame the Parties, then to poise:
The Quarrel lov’d, but did the Cause abhor,
  And did not strike to hurt, but make a noise.
War, our Consumption, was their gainful Trade;
  We inward bled, whilst they prolong’d our Pain;
He fought to end our Fighting, and assay’d
  To stench the Blood by breathing of the Vein.
Swift and resistless through the Land he pass’d,
  Like that bold Greek, who did the East subdue;        50
And made to Battels such Heroick Haste,
  As if on Wings of Victory he flew.
He fought, secure of Fortune, as of fame;
  Till by new Maps, the Island might be shown,
Of Conquests, which he strew’d where-e’er he came,        55
  Thick as the Galaxy with Stars is sown. 2
His palms, tho under Weights they did not stand,
  Still thriv’d; no Winter could his Laurels fade:
Heaven in his Portraict shew’d a Work-man’s Hand
  And drew it perfect, yet without a Shade.        60
Peace was the Prize of all his Toil and Care,
  Which War had banish’d and did now restore:
Bolognia’s 3 walls thus mounted in the Air,
  To seat themselves more surely than before.
Her Safety, rescued Ireland, to him owes;
  And treacherous Scotland, to no Int’rest true,
Yet bless’d that Fate which did his Arms dispose,
  Her Land to civilize, as to subdue.
Nor was he like those Stars which only shine,
  When to pale Mariners they Storms portend:        70
He had his calmer Influence, and his Mien
  Did Love and Majesty together blend.
’Tis true, his Count’nance did imprint an Awe,
  And naturally all Souls to his did bow;
As Wands of Divination downward draw,        75
  And point to Beds where Sov’raign Gold doth grow.
When, past all Off’rings to Pheretrian Jove,
  He Mars depos’d and Arms to Gowns made yield,
Successful Counsels did him soon approve
  As fit for close Intrigues as open Field.        80
To suppliant Holland he vouchsaf’d a Peace,
  Our once bold Rival in the British Main,
Now tamely glad her unjust Claim to cease,
  And buy our Friendship with her Idol, Gain.
Fame of th’ asserted Sea, through Europe blown,
  Made France and Spain ambitious of his Love;
Each knew that Side must conquer, he wou’d own;
  And for him fiercely, as for Empire, strove.
No sooner was the French-Man’s Cause embrac’d,
  Than the light Monsieur the grave Don out-weigh’d:        90
His Fortune turn’d the Scale where-e’er ’twas cast,
  Tho’ Indian mines were in the other laid.
When absent, yet we conquer’d in his Right;
  For tho’ some meaner Artist’s Skill were shown,
In mingling Colours, or in placing Light,        95
  Yet still the fair Designment was his own.
For from all Tempers he cou’d Service draw
  The worth of each, with its Alloy, he knew;
And, as the Confident of Nature, saw
  How she Complections did divide and brew.        100
Or he their single Vertues did survey,
  By Intuition, in his own large Breast,
Where all the rich Idea’s of them lay,
  That were the Rule and Measure to the rest.
When such Heroick Vertue Heaven sets out,
  The Stars, like Commons, sullenly obey;
Because it drains them, when it comes about;
  And therefore is a Tax they seldom pay.
From this high Spring, our Foreign Conquests flow,
  Which yet more glorious Triumphs do portend;        110
Since their Commencement to his Arms they owe,
  If Springs as high as Fountains may ascend.
He made us Free-men of the Continent,
  Whom Nature did like Captives treat before;
To nobler Preys the English Lion sent,        115
  And taught him first in Belgian Walks to roar.
That old unquestion’d Pirate of the Land,
  Proud Rome, with Dread the Fate of Dunkirk heard;
And trembling, wish’d behind more Alps to stand,
  Although an Alexander were her Guard.        120
By his Command we boldly cross’d the Line
  And bravely fought where Southern Stars arise;
We trac’d the far-fetched Gold unto the Mine,
  And that which brib’d our Fathers, made our Prize.
Such was our Prince, yet own’d a Soul above
  The highest Acts it could produce to show:
Thus poor Mechanick Arts in Publick move,
  Whilst the deep Secrets beyond Practice go.
Nor dy’d he when his Ebbing Fame went less,
  But when fresh Laurels courted him to live:        130
He seem’d but to prevent some new Success,
  As if above what Triumphs Earth could give.
His latest Victories still thickest came,
  As near the Centre, Motion does increase;
Till he, press’d down by his own weighty Name,        135
  Did, like the Vestal, under Spoils decease.
But first, the Ocean, as a tribute, sent
  That Giant-Prince of all her Watry Herd;
And th’ Isle, when her protecting Genius went,
  Upon his Obsequies loud Sighs conferr’d.        140
No Civil Broils have since his Death arose,
  But Faction now, by Habit, does obey;
And Wars have that Respect for his Repose,
  As winds for Halcyons when they breed at Sea.
His Ashes in a Peaceful Urn shall rest,
  His Name a great Example stands to show,
How strangely high Endeavours may be bless’d,
  Where Piety and Valour jointly go.
Note 1. Text from the original edition of 1659. [back]
Note 2. is] are 1659. [back]
Note 3. Bolognia’s] Dryden’s spelling of Bologna. [back]

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