Poems, &c. written upon several occasions, and to several persons by Edmond Waller.
Waller, Edmund, 1606-1687.
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The Battel of the Summer-Islands.
What Fruits they have, and how Heaven smiles
Vpon those late discovered Isles.
AId me Be••ona, while the dreadful Fight
Betwixt a Nation and two Whales I write:
Seas stain'd with goar, I sing, advent'rous toyl,
And how these Monsters did disarm an Isle.
Berm•das wall'd with Rocks, who does not know,
That happy Island, where huge Lemons grow,
And Orange trees which Golden Fruit do bear,
Th'Hesperian Garden boasts of none so fair?
Where shining Pearl, Coral, and many a pound,
On the rich Shore, of Amber-greece is found:
Page 59 The lofty Cedar, which to Heaven aspires,
The Prince of Trees, is fewel for their Fires:
The smoak by which their loaded spits do turn,
For •ncense might, on Sacred Altars burn:
Their private Roofs•on od'rous Timber born,
Such as might Palaces for Kings adorn.
The sweet Palmettas a new B•cchus yield,
With Leaves as ample as the broadest shield:
Under the shadow of whose friendly Boughs
They sit carowsing, where their Liquor grows.
Figs there unplanted through the Fields do grow,
Such as fierce Cato did the Romans show,
With the rare Fruit inviting them to spoil
Carthage the Mistriss of so rich a soil.
The naked Rocks are not unfruitful there,
But at some constant seasons every year,
Their barren tops with luscious Food abound,
And with the eggs of various Fowls are crown'd:
Page 60 Tobacco is the worst of things, which they
To English Land-lords as their Tribute pay:
Such is the Mould, that the Blest Tenant feeds
On precious Fruits, and pays his Rent in Weeds:
With candid Plantines, and the jucy Pine,
On choicest Melons and sweet Grapes they dine;
And with Potatoes fat their wanton Swine.
Nature these Cates with such a lavish hand
Pours out among them, that our courser Land
Tastes of that bounty, and does Cloth return,
Which not for Warmth, but Ornament is worn:
For the kind Spring which but salutes us here,
Inhabits there, and courts them all the year:
Ripe Fruits and blossoms on the •ame Trees live;
At once they promise, what at once they give:
So sweet the Air, so moderate the Clime;
None sickly lives, or dies before his time.
Heaven sure has kept this spot of earth uncurst,
Page 61 To shew how all things were Created first.
The tardy Plants in our cold Orchards plac'd,
Reserve their Fruit for the next ages taste:
There a small grain in some few Months will be
A firm, a lofty, and a spacious Tree:
The Palma Christi, and the fair Papah,
Now but a seed (preventing Natures law)
In half the Circle of the hasty year
Project a shade, and lovely fruit do wear:
And as their Trees in our dull Region set
But faintly grow, and no perfection get;
So in this Northern Tract our hoarser Throats
Utter unripe and ill-constrained notes:
Where the supporter of the Poets style,
Phoebus, on them eternally does smile.
O how I long! my careless Limbs to lay
Under the Plantanes shade, and all the day
With am'rous Airs my fancy entertain,
Page 62 Invoke the Mus•s, and improve my vein!
No passion there in my free breast should move▪
None but the sweet and best of passions, Love:
There while I sing, if gentle Love be by
That tunes my Lute, and winds the Strings so high,
With the sweet sound of Sacharissa's name,
I'll make the listning Savages grow tame.
But while I do these pleasing dreams indite,
I am diverted from the promis'd fight.
Of their alarm, and how their Foes
Discovered were, this Canto shows.
THough Rocks so high about this Island rise,
That well they may the num'rous Turk despise;
Yet is no humane fate exempt from fear,
Which shakes their hearts, while through the Isle they hear
Page 63 A lasting noise, as horrid and as loud
As Thunder makes, before it breaks the Cloud.
Three days they dread this murmur, e're they know
From what blind cause th'unwonted sound may grow:
At length Two Monsters of unequal size,
Hard by the shoar a Fisher-man espies;
Two mighty Whales, which swelling Seas had tost,
And left them prisoners on the rocky Coast;
One as a Mountain vast, and with her came
• Cub not much inferior to his Dame:
•ere in a Pool among the Rocks engag'd,
•hey roar'd like Lions, caught in toyls, and rag'd:
•he man knew what they were, who heretofore
•ad seen the like lie murdered on the shore,
•y the wild fury of some Tempest cast
•he fate of ships and shipwrackt men to taste.
•s careless Dames whom Wine and Sleep betray
〈◊〉 frantick dreams their Infants overlay:
Page 64 So there sometimes the raging Ocean fails,
And her own brood exposes; when the Whales
Against sharp Rocks like reeling vessels quasht,
Though huge as Mountains, are in pieces dasht;
Along the shore their dreadful Limbs lie scatter'd,
Like Hills with Earthquakes shaken, torn & shatter'•
Hearts sure of Brass they had, who tempted first,
Rude Seas that spare not what themselves have nurs•
The welcome news through all the Nation sprea•
To sudden joy and hope converts their dread.
What lately was their publique terror, they
Behold with glad eyes as a certain prey;
Dispose already of th'untaken spoil,
And as the purchase of their future toil,
These share the Bones, and they divide the Oyl;
So was the Huntsman by the Bear opprest,
Whose Hide he sold before he caught the Beast.
Page 65 They man their Boats, and all their young men arm
With whatsoever may the Monsters harm;
Pikes, Halberts, Spits, and Darts that wound so far,
The Tools of Peace, and Instruments of War:
Now was the time for vig'rous Lads to show
What love or honor could invite them too;
A goodly Theatre where Rocks are round
With reverend age, and lovely Lasses crown'd▪
Such was the Lake which held this dreadful pair
Within the bounds of noble Warwicks share:
Warwicks bold Earl, than which no title bear•
A greater sound among our British Peers;
And worthy he the memory to renew,
The fate and honor to that title due;
Whose brave adventures have transferr'd his name,
And through the new world spread his growing fame.
But how they fought, & what their valour gain'd,
Shall in another Canto be contain'd.
The bloody fight, successless toyl,
And how the Fishes sack'd the Isle.
THe Boat which on the first assault did go
Struck with a harping Iron the younger •o;
Who when he felt his side so rudely goar'd,
Loud as the Sea that nourish't him he roar'd.
•s a broad Bream to please some curious tast,
While yet alive in boyling water cast,
•ex't with unwonted heat, boyls, flings about
The scorching brass, and hurls the liquor out:
So with the barbed Javeling stung, he raves,
And scourges with his tayl the suffering waves:
Like Spencer's Talus with his Iron flayl,
•e threatens ruin with his pondrous tayl;
Page 67 Dissolving at one stroke the battered Boat,
And down the men fall drenched in the Moat:
With every fierce encounter they are forc't
To quit their Boats, and fare like men unhorst.
The bigger Whale like some huge Carrack lay,
Which wanteth Sea room, with her foes to play:
Slowly she swims, and when provok'd she wo'd
Advance her tail, her head salutes the mud;
The shallow water doth her force infringe,
And renders vain her tails impetuous swinge:
The shining steel her tender sides receive,
And there like Bees they all their weapons leave.
This sees the Cub, and does himself oppose
Betwixt his cumbred mother and her foes:
With desperate courage he receives her wounds,
And men and boats his active tayl confounds.
Their forces joyn'd, the Seas with billows fill,
And make a tempest, though the winds be still.
Page 68 Now would the men with half their hoped prey
Be well content, and wish this Cub away:
Their wish they have; he to direct his dam
Unto the gap through which they thither came,
Before her swims, and quits the hostile Lake,
A pris'ner there, but for his mothers sake.
She by the Rocks compell'd to stay behind,
Is by the vastness of her bulk confin'd.
They shout for joy, and now on her alone
Their fury falls, and all their Darts are thrown.
Their Lances spent; one bolder than the rest
With his broad sword provok'd the sluggish beast:
Her oily side devours both blade and heft,
And there his Steel the bold Bermudian left.
Courage the rest from his example take,
And now they change the colour of the Lake:
Blood flows in Rivers from her wounded side,
As if they would prevent the tardy tide,
Page 69 And raise the flood to that propitious height,
As might convey her from this fatal streight.
She swims in blood, and blood do's spouting throw
To Heaven, that Heaven mens cruelties might know.
Their fixed Javelins in her side she wears,
And on her back a grove of Pikes appears:
You would have thought, had you the monster seen
Thus drest, she had another Island been.
Roaring she tears the air with such a noise,
(As well resembled the conspiring voice
Of routed Armies, when the field is won)
To reach the ears of her escaped son.
He (though a league removed from the fo)
Hastes to her aid; the pious Trojan so
Neglecting for Creusas life his own,
Repeats the danger of the burning Town.
The men amazed blush to see the seed
Of monsters, human piety exceed:
Page 70 Well proves this kindness what the Grecians sung,
That Loves bright mother from the Ocean sprung.
Their courage droops, and hopeless now they wish
For composition with th'unconquer'd fish:
So she their weapons would restore again,
Through Rocks they'd hew her passage to the main.
But how instructed in each others mind,
Or what commerce can men with monsters find?
Not daring to approach their wounded foe,
Whom her couragious son protected so;
They charge their Muskets, and with hot desire
Of full revenge, renew the fight with fire:
Standing a looff, with lead they bruise the scales,
And tear the flesh of the incensed Whales.
But no success their fierce endeavours found,
Nor this way could they give one fatal wound.
Now to their Fort they are about to send
For the loud Engines which their Isle defend.
Page 71 But what those pieces from'd to batter walls
Would have effected on those mighty Whales,
Great Neptune will not have us know, who sends
A tyde so high, that it relieves his friends.
And thus they parted with exchange of harms;
Much blood the Monsters lost, and they their Arms.