Poems, &c. written upon several occasions, and to several persons by Edmond Waller.
Waller, Edmund, 1606-1687.
Page  [unnumbered]Page  287

OF Divine Poesie, TWO CANTOS, Occasioned upon sight of the 53d Chapter of Isaiah, turn'd into Verse by Mrs. Wharton.

CANTO I.

POets we prize, when in their Verse we find
Some great employment of a worthy mind.
Angels have been inquisitive to know
The Secret, which this Oracle does show.
Page  288 What was to come Isaiah did declare,
Which she describes, as if she had been there;
Had seen the Wounds, which to the Reader's view,
She draws so lively, that they Bleed a new.
As Ivy thrives, which on the Oak takes hold,
So with the Prophets may her lines grow old;
If they should die, who can the World forgive?
Such pious Lines! When wanton Sapho's live.
Who with his Breath his Image did inspire,
Expects it should foment a Nobler fire:
Not Love which Brutes as well as Men may know;
But Love like his, to whom that Breath we owe.
Verse so design'd, on that high Subject wrote,
Is the Perfection of an ardent Thought:
The Smoke which we from burning Incense raise,
When we complete the Sacrifice of Praise.
In boundless Verse the Fancy soars too high,
For any Object, but the Deity.
Page  289 What Mortal can with Heav'n pretend to share
In the Superlatives of Wise and Fair?
A meaner Subject when with these we grace,
A Giants habit on a Dwarf we place.
Sacred should be the Product of our Muse,
Like that sweet Oil, above all private use:
On pain of Death forbidden to be made,
But when it should be on the Altar laid.
Verse shows a rich inestimable Vein,
When dropt from Heav'n, 'tis thither sent again:
Of Bounty 'tis that he admits our Praise,
Which does not him, but us that yield it raise.
For as that Angel up to Heav'n did rise,
Born on the Flame of Manoah's Sacrifice:
o wing'd with Praise, we penetrate the Sky,
Teach Clouds and Stars to praise him as we fly;
The whole Creation, by our Fall made groan,
••is Praise to Eccho, and suspend their Moan
Page  290 For that he Reigns, all Creatures should rejoice,
And we with Songs supply their want of voice.
The Church Triumphant, and the Church below
In Songs of Praise their present Union show:
Their Joys are full, our Expectation long;
In Life we differ, but we join in Song.
Angels, and we, assisted by this Art,
May Sing together, thô we dwell apart.
Thus we reach Heav'n, while vainer Poems must
No higher rise, than Winds may lift the Dust.
From that they spring; this from his breath that gave
To the first Dust, th 'Immortal Soul we have:
His Praise well sung, our great endeavor here,
Shakes off the Dust, and makes that breath appear.
Page  291

CANTO II.

HE that did first this way of Writing grace,
Converst with the Almighty face to face.
Wonders he did in Sacred Verse unfold,
When he had more than Eighty Winters told:
The Writer feels no dire effects of Age,
Nor Verse that flows from so Divine a Rage.
Eldest of Poets, he beheld the Light,
When first it triumph'd 'ore eternal Night;
Chaos he saw, and could distinctly tell
How that Confusion into Order fell:
As if consulted with, he has exprest
The Work of the Creator and his Rest.
How the floud drown'd the first offending Race;
Which might the Figure of our Globe deface:
Page  292 For new made Earth, so even and so fair,
Less equal now, uncertain makes the Air:
Surpriz'd with heat, and unexpected cold
Early distempers make our Youth look old:
Our Days so evil, and so few, may tell
That on the ruines of that World we dwell.
Strong as the Oaks that nourish't them, and high,
That long-liv'd Race did on their force rely,
Neglecting Heav'n: but we of shorter date,
Should be more mindful of impendent Fate.
To Worms that crawl upon this Rubbish here,
This Span of Life may yet too long appear:
Enough to humble, and to make us great,
If it prepare us for a Nobler Seat.
Which well observing, he in Numerous Lines,
Taught wretched Man, how fast his Life declines:
In whom he dwelt, before the World was made,
And may again retire, when that shall fade.
Page  293 The lasting Iliads have not liv'd so long,
As his and Deborah's triumphant Song.
Delphos unknown, no Muse could them inspie,
But that which governs the Coelestial Quire.
Heav'n to the Pious did this Art reveal;
And from their store succeeding Poets steal.
Homer's Scamander for the Trojans faught,
And swell'd so high, by her old Kishbon taught▪
His River scarce could fierce Achilles stay;
Hers more successful, swept her Foes away.
The Host of Heav'n, his Phebus and his Mars,
He Arms, instructed by her ighting Stars.
She led them all against the Common Foe:
But he misled by what he saw below,
The Powers above, like wretched Men, divides,
And breaks their Union into different ides,
The Noblest parts which in his Hero's shine,
May be but Copies of that Heroine.
Page  294Ho•• himself, and Agamemnon, she
The Writer could, and the Commander, be
Truth she relates, in a sublimer strain
Than all the Tales the boldest Greek could feign:
For what she sung, that Spirit did indite,
Which gave her courage, and success in fight.
A double Garland crowns the matchless Dame;
From Heav'n her Poem, and her Conquest came.
Thô of the Iews she merit most esteem:
Yet here the Christian has the greater Theme.
Her martial Song describes how Sisera fell,
This sings our Triumph over Death and Hell.
The rising Light employ'd the sacred breath
Of the blest Virgin and Elizabeth
In Songs of Joy; the Angels sung his Birth:
Here, how he treated was upon the Earth
Trembling we read; th' Affliction and the Scorn,
Which for our Guilt, so patiently was born.
Page  295〈…〉 and Suffering, all belong
Thô 〈…〉 to one Coelestial Song:
And 〈…〉 using so divine an Art,
Has in this Conort, sung the Tragick part.
As Hannh's Seed was vow'd to sacred use,
So here this Lady consecrates her Muse.
With like Reward may Heav'n her Bed adorn,
With Fruit as fair as by her Muse is born.