Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Elegies and Epitaphs
To the Pious Memory of the Accomplisht Young Lady,
Mrs. Anne Killigrew,
Excellent in the two Sister-arts of Poesie and Painting.
An Ode
THOU 1 youngest Virgin-Daughter of the Skies,
  Made in the last Promotion of the Blest;
Whose Palms, 2 new pluckt from Paradise,
In spreading Branches more sublimely rise,
  Rich with Immortal Green above the rest:        5
Whether, adopted to some Neighbouring Star,
Thou rol’st above us in thy wand’ring Race,
  Or, in Procession fixt and regular,
Mov’d with the Heavens Majestick pace;
  Or, call’d to more Superiour Bliss,        10
Thou tread’st, with Seraphims, the vast Abyss:
Whatever happy region is 3 thy place,
Cease thy Celestial Song a little space;
(Thou wilt have time enough for Hymns Divine,
Since Heav’ns Eternal Year is thine.)        15
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 Poesie were given,
To make thyself a welcome Inmate there;        20
    While yet a young Probationer,
      And Candidate of Heav’n.
  If by Traduction came thy Mind,
  Our Wonder is the less to find
A Soul so charming from a Stock so good;        25
Thy Father was transfus’d into thy Blood: 4
So wert thou born into the tuneful strain,
(An early, rich, and inexhausted Vein.)
  But if thy Præ-existing 5 Soul
Was form’d, at first, with Myriads more,        30
  It did through all the Mighty Poets roul
Who Greek or Latine Laurels wore,
And was that Sappho last, which once it was before.
  If so, then cease thy flight, O Heav’n-born Mind!
Thou hast no Dross to purge from thy Rich Ore:        35
  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 HEAV’N as well as here on Earth?        40
For sure the Milder Planets did combine
On thy Auspicious Horoscope to shine,
And ev’n the most Malicious were in Trine.
Thy Brother-Angels 6 at thy Birth
  Strung each his Lyre, and tun’d it high,        45
    That all the People of the Skie
Might know a Poetess was born on Earth.
    And then if ever, Mortal Ears
    Had heard the Musick of the Spheres!
    And if no clust’ring Swarm of Bees        50
  On thy sweet Mouth distill’d their golden Dew,
    ’Twas that, such vulgar Miracles
    Heav’n had not Leasure to renew:
  For all the Blest Fraternity of Love
Solemniz’d there thy Birth, and kept thy Holyday above.        55
      O Gracious God! How far have we
    Prophan’d thy Heav’nly Gift of Poesy!
    Made prostitute and profligate the Muse,
    Debas’d to each obscene and impious use,
    Whose Harmony was first ordain’d Above,        60
    For Tongues of Angels and for Hymns of Love!
Oh wretched We! why were we hurry’d down
    This lubrique and adult’rate age,
  (Nay, added fat Pollutions of our own)
    T’ increase the steaming Ordures of the Stage?        65
  What can we say t’ excuse our Second Fall?
  Let this thy Vestal, Heav’n, atone 7 for all:
  Her Arethusian Stream remains unsoil’d,
  Unmixt with Forreign Filth and undefil’d,
Her Wit was more than Man, her Innocence a Child.        70
  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,        75
That it seem’d borrow’d, where ’twas only born.
Her Morals too were in her Bosom 8 bred
  By great Examples daily fed,
What in the best of Books, her Father’s Life, she read.
  And to be read her self she need not fear;        80
  Each Test, and ev’ry Light, her Muse will bear,
  Though Epictetus with his Lamp were there.
  Ev’n Love (for Love sometimes her Muse exprest),
Was but a Lambent-flame which play’d about her Breast: 9
    Light as the Vapours of a Morning Dream,        85
  So cold herself, whilst she such Warmth exprest,
    ’Twas Cupid bathing in Diana’s Stream.
Born to the Spacious Empire of the Nine,
One wou’d have thought, she should have been content
To manage well that Mighty Government;        90
But what can young ambitious Souls confine?
  To the next Realm she stretcht her Sway,
  For Painture near 10 adjoyning lay,
A plenteous Province, and alluring Prey.
A Chamber of Dependences was fram’d,        95
(As Conquerors will never want Pretence,
  When arm’d, to justifie th’ Offence),
And the whole Fief, in right of Poetry she claim’d.
  The Country open lay without Defence;
For Poets frequent In-rodes there had made,        100
  And perfectly cou’d represent
  The Shape, the Face, with ev’ry Lineament;
And all the large Demains which the Dumb-sister sway’d;
  All bow’d beneath her Government,
  Receiv’d in Triumph wheresoe’re she went.        105
Her Pencil drew whate’re her Soul design’d
And oft the happy Draught surpass’d the Image in her Mind.
  The Sylvan Scenes of Herds and Flocks
  And fruitful Plains and barren Rocks,
  Of shallow Brooks that flow’d so clear,        110
  The bottom did the top appear,
  Of deeper too and ampler Floods 11
  Which as in Mirrors, shew’d the Woods;
  Of lofty Trees, with Sacred Shades
  And Perspectives of pleasant Glades,        115
  Where Nymphs of brightest Form appear,
  And shaggy Satyrs standing near, 12
  Which them at once admire and fear.
  The Ruines too of some Majestick Piece,
  Boasting the Pow’r of ancient Rome or Greece,        120
  Whose Statues, Freezes, Columns, broken lie,
  And, tho’ defac’d, 13 the Wonder of the Eye;
  What Nature, Art, bold Fiction, e’re durst frame,
  Her forming Hand gave Feature to 14 the Name.
  So strange a Concourse ne’re was seen before,        125
But when the peopl’d Ark the whole Creation bore.
  The Scene then chang’d; with bold Erected Look
Our Martial King the sight with Reverence strook:
For, not content t’ express his Outward Part,
Her hand call’d out the Image of his Heart,        130
His Warlike Mind, his Soul devoid of Fear,
His High-designing Thoughts were figurd’ there,
As when, by Magick, Ghosts are made appear.
  Our Phenix queen was portrai’d too so bright,
Beauty alone cou’d Beauty take so right:        135
Her Dress, her Shape, her matchless Grace,
Were all observ’d, as well as heav’nly Face.
With such a Peerless Majesty she stands,
As in that Day she took the Crown from Sacred hands: 15
Before a Train of Heroins was seen,        140
In Beauty foremost, as in Rank, the Queen!
  Thus nothing to her Genius was deny’d,
But like a Ball of Fire, the farther thrown,
Still with a greater Blaze she shone,
  And her bright Soul broke out on ev’ry side.        145
What next she had design’d, Heaven only knows:
To such Immod’rate Growth her Conquest rose
That Fate alone its Progress cou’d oppose.
Now all those Charms, 16 that blooming Grace,
The well-proportion’d Shape and beauteous Face,        150
Shall never more be seen by Mortal Eyes;
In Earth the much-lamented Virgin lies!
  Not Wit nor Piety cou’d Fate prevent;
  Nor was the cruel Destiny content
  To finish all the Murder at a blow,        155
  To sweep at once her Life and Beauty too;
But, like a hardn’d Fellon, took a pride
  To work more Mischievously slow,
And plunder’d first, and then destroy’d.
O double Sacriledge on things Divine,        160
To rob the Relique, and deface the Shrine!
  But thus Orinda dy’d:
Heav’n, by the same Disease, did both translate,
As equal were their Souls, so equal was their fate.
Mean time, 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 for-bear,
  The Winds too soon will waft thee here!
  Slack all thy Sails, 17 and fear to come,        170
Alas, thou know’st not, thou art wreck’d at home!
No more shalt thou behold thy Sister’s Face,
Thou hast already had her last Embrace.
But look aloft, and if thou ken’st from far,
Among the Pleiad’s, a New-kindl’d star,        175
If any sparkles, than the rest, more bright,
’Tis she that shines in that propitious Light.
When in mid-Air 18 the Golden Trump shall sound,
  To raise the Nations under ground;
  When in the Valley of Jehosaphat        180
The Judging God shall close the book of Fate;
  And there the last Assizes keep
  For those who Wake and those who Sleep;
  When ratling Bones together fly
  From the four Corners of the Skie,        185
When Sinews o’re the Skeletons are spread,
Those cloath’d with Flesh, and Life inspires the Dead;
The Sacred Poets first shall hear the Sound,
And formost from the Tomb shall bound:
For they are cover’d with the lightest ground;        190
And streight, with in-born Vigour, on the Wing,
Like mounting Larks, 19 to the New Morning sing.
There Thou, sweet Saint, before the Quire shalt go,
As Harbinger of Heav’n, the Way to show,
The Way which thou so well hast learn’d below.        195
Note 1. Text from the second edition, 1693. The date is given wrongly by Christie. The variants below are from the original edition as prefixt to Mrs. Killigrew’s Poems. [back]
Note 2. Palms] Palmes 1686. [back]
Note 3. is] be 1686. [back]
Note 4. Blood] Blood 1686. [back]
Note 5. Præ-existing] Præexisting 1686. Editors give pre-existing. [back]
Note 6. Brother-Angels] Brother-Angels 1686. [back]
Note 7. atone] attone 1686. [back]
Note 8. Bosom] Bosome 1686. [back]
Note 9. Breast] Brest 1686. [back]
Note 10. near] neer 1686. [back]
Note 11. Floods] Flouds 1686. [back]
Note 12. near] neer 1686. [back]
Note 13. defac’d] defac’t 1686. Eye] Eie 1686. [back]
Note 14. Feature to] Shape unto 1686. [back]
Note 15. 139 sqq. These lines as printed in 1686 ran:
As in that Day she took from Sacred hands
The Crown; ’mong num’rous Heroins was seen,
More yet in Beauty, than in Rank, the Queen!
Saintsbury wrongly gives ’mongst for ’mong. [back]
Note 16. Charms] Charmes 1686. [back]
Note 17. Sails] Sailes 1686. [back]
Note 18. Air] Aire 1686. [back]
Note 19. Larks] Larkes 1686. [back]

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