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Best Famous Andrew Marvell Poems

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Written by Andrew Marvell | Create an image from this poem

The Gallery

Clora, come view my soul, and tell
Whether I have contrived it well.
Now all its several lodgings lie Composed into one gallery; And the great arras-hangings, made Of various faces, by are laid; That, for all furniture, you'll find Only your picture in my mind.
Here thou art painted in the dress Of an inhuman murderess; Examining upon our hearts Thy fertile shop of cruel arts: Engines more keen than ever yet Adornèd tyrant's cabinet; Of which the most tormenting are Black eyes, red lips, and curlèd hair.
But, on the other side, thou'rt drawn Like to Aurora in the dawn; When in the east she slumb'ring lies, And stretches out her milky thighs; While all the morning choir does sing, And manna falls, and roses spring; And, at thy feet, the wooing doves Sit perfecting their harmless loves.
Like an enchantress here thou show'st, Vexing thy restless lover's ghost; And, by a light obscure, dost rave Over his entrails, in the cave; Divining thence, with horrid care, How long thou shalt continue fair; And (when informed) them throw'st away, To be the greedy vulture's prey.
But, against that, thou sit'st afloat Like Venus in her pearly boat.
The halcyons, calming all that's nigh, Betwixt the air and water fly: Or, if some rolling wave appears, A mass of ambergris it bears: Nor blows more wind than what may well Convoy the perfume to the smell.
These pictures and a thousand more, Of thee, my gallery do store; In all the forms thou canst invent Either to please me, or torment: For thou alone to people me, Art grown a num'rous colony; And a collection choicer far Than or Whitehall's, or Mantua's were.
But, of these pictures and the rest, That at the entrance likes me best; Where the same posture, and the look Remains, with which I first was took: A tender shepherdess, whose hair Hangs loosely playing in the air, Transplanting flowers from the green hill, To crown her head, and bosom fill.

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To His Coy Mistress

  Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way To walk, and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide Of Humber would complain.
I would Love you ten years before the Flood, And you should, if you please, refuse Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires and more slow; An hundred years should go to praise Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze; Two hundred to adore each breast, But thirty thousand to the rest; An age at least to every part, And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state, Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near; And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found; Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound My echoing song; then worms shall try That long-preserved virginity, And your quaint honor turn to dust, And into ashes all my lust: The grave's a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue Sits on thy skin like morning dew, And while thy willing soul transpires At every pore with instant fires, Now let us sport us while we may, And now, like amorous birds of prey, Rather at once our time devour Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife Thorough the iron gates of life: Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run.
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A Dialogue Between The Soul And Body

O Who shall, from this Dungeon, raise
A Soul inslav'd so many wayes?
With bolts of Bones, that fetter'd stands
In Feet ; and manacled in Hands.
Here blinded with an Eye ; and there Deaf with the drumming of an Ear.
A Soul hung up, as 'twere, in Chains Of Nerves, and Arteries, and Veins.
Tortur'd, besides each other part,1 In a vain Head, and double Heart.
Body O who shall me deliver whole, From bonds of this Tyrannic Soul? Which, stretcht upright, impales me so, That mine own Precipice I go; And warms and moves this needless Frame: (A Fever could but do the same.
) And, wanting where its spight to try, Has made me live to let me dye.
A Body that could never rest, Since this ill Spirit it possest.
Soul What Magic could me thus confine Within anothers Grief to pine? Where whatsoever it complain, I feel, that cannot feel, the pain.
And all my Care its self employes, That to preserve, which me destroys: Constrain'd not only to indure Diseases, but, whats worse, the Cure: And ready oft the Port to gain, Am Shipwrackt into Health again.
Body But Physick yet could never reach The Maladies Thou me dost teach; Whom first the Cramp of Hope does Tear: And then the Palsie Shakes of Fear.
The Pestilence of Love does heat : Or Hatred's hidden Ulcer eat.
Joy's chearful Madness does perplex: Or Sorrow's other Madness vex.
Which Knowledge forces me to know; And Memory will not foregoe.
What but a Soul could have the wit To build me up for Sin so fit? So Architects do square and hew, Green Trees that in the Forest grew.
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The Character Of Holland

 Holland, that scarce deserves the name of Land,
As but th'Off-scouring of the Brittish Sand;
And so much Earth as was contributed
By English Pilots when they heav'd the Lead;
Or what by th' Oceans slow alluvion fell,
Of shipwrackt Cockle and the Muscle-shell;
This indigested vomit of the Sea
Fell to the Dutch by just Propriety.
Glad then, as Miners that have found the Oar, They with mad labour fish'd the Land to Shoar; And div'd as desperately for each piece Of Earth, as if't had been of Ambergreece; Collecting anxiously small Loads of Clay, Less then what building Swallows bear away; Transfursing into them their Dunghil Soul.
How did they rivet, with Gigantick Piles, Thorough the Center their new-catched Miles; And to the stake a strugling Country bound, Where barking Waves still bait the forced Ground; Building their watry Babel far more high To reach the Sea, then those to scale the Sky.
Yet still his claim the Injur'd Ocean laid, And oft at Leap-frog ore their Steeples plaid: As if on purpose it on Land had come To shew them what's their Mare Liberum.
A daily deluge over them does boyl; The Earth and Water play at Level-coyl; The Fish oft-times the Burger dispossest, And sat not as a Meat but as a Guest; And oft the Tritons and the Sea-Nymphs saw Whole sholes of Dutch serv'd up for Cabillan; Or as they over the new Level rang'd For pickled Herring, pickled Heeren chang'd.
Nature, it seem'd, asham'd of her mistake, Would throw their land away at Duck and Drake.
Therefore Necessity, that first made Kings, Something like Government among them brings.
For as with Pygmees who best kills the Crane, Among the hungry he that treasures Grain, Among the blind the one-ey'd blinkard reigns, So rules among the drowned he that draines.
Not who first see the rising Sun commands, But who could first discern the rising Lands.
Who best could know to pump an Earth so leak Him they their Lord and Country's Father speak.
To make a Bank was a great Plot of State; Invent a Shov'l and be a Magistrate.
Hence some small Dyke-grave unperceiv'd invades The Pow'r, and grows as 'twere a King of Spades.
But for less envy some Joynt States endures, Who look like a Commission of the Sewers.
For these Half-anders, half wet, and half dry, Nor bear strict service, nor pure Liberty.
'Tis probable Religion after this Came next in order; which they could not miss.
How could the Dutch but be converted, when Th' Apostles were so many Fishermen? Besides the Waters of themselves did rise, And, as their Land, so them did re-baptise.
Though Herring for their God few voices mist, And Poor-John to have been th' Evangelist.
Faith, that could never Twins conceive before, Never so fertile, spawn'd upon this shore: More pregnant then their Marg'ret, that laid down For Hans-in-Kelder of a whole Hans-Town.
Sure when Religion did it self imbark, And from the east would Westward steer its Ark, It struck, and splitting on this unknown ground, Each one thence pillag'd the first piece he found: Hence Amsterdam, Turk-Christian-Pagan-Jew, Staple of Sects and Mint of Schisme grew; That Bank of Conscience, where not one so strange Opinion but finds Credit, and Exchange.
In vain for Catholicks our selves we bear; The Universal Church is onely there.
Nor can Civility there want for Tillage, Where wisely for their Court they chose a Village.
How fit a Title clothes their Governours, Themselves the Hogs as all their Subjects Bores Let it suffice to give their Country Fame That it had one Civilis call'd by Name, Some Fifteen hundred and more years ago, But surely never any that was so.
See but their Mairmaids with their Tails of Fish, Reeking at Church over the Chafing-Dish.
A vestal Turf enshrin'd in Earthen Ware Fumes through the loop-holes of wooden Square.
Each to the Temple with these Altars tend, But still does place it at her Western End: While the fat steam of Female Sacrifice Fills the Priests Nostrils and puts out his Eyes.
Or what a Spectacle the Skipper gross, A Water-Hercules Butter-Coloss, Tunn'd up with all their sev'ral Towns of Beer; When Stagg'ring upon some Land, Snick and Sneer, They try, like Statuaries, if they can, Cut out each others Athos to a Man: And carve in their large Bodies, where they please, The Armes of the United Provinces.
But when such Amity at home is show'd; What then are their confederacies abroad? Let this one court'sie witness all the rest; When their hole Navy they together prest, Not Christian Captives to redeem from Bands: Or intercept the Western golden Sands: No, but all ancient Rights and Leagues must vail, Rather then to the English strike their sail; to whom their weather-beaten Province ows It self, when as some greater Vessal tows A Cock-boat tost with the same wind and fate; We buoy'd so often up their Sinking State.
Was this Jus Belli & Pacis; could this be Cause why their Burgomaster of the Sea Ram'd with Gun-powder, flaming with Brand wine, Should raging hold his Linstock to the Mine? While, with feign'd Treaties, they invade by stealth Our sore new circumcised Common wealth.
Yet of his vain Attempt no more he sees Then of Case-Butter shot and Bullet-Cheese.
And the torn Navy stagger'd with him home, While the Sea laught it self into a foam, 'Tis true since that (as fortune kindly sports,) A wholesome Danger drove us to our ports.
While half their banish'd keels the Tempest tost, Half bound at home in Prison to the frost: That ours mean time at leisure might careen, In a calm Winter, under Skies Serene.
As the obsequious Air and waters rest, Till the dear Halcyon hatch out all its nest.
The Common wealth doth by its losses grow; And, like its own Seas, only Ebbs to flow.
Besides that very Agitation laves, And purges out the corruptible waves.
And now again our armed Bucentore Doth yearly their Sea-Nuptials restore.
And how the Hydra of seaven Provinces Is strangled by our Infant Hercules.
Their Tortoise wants its vainly stretched neck; Their Navy all our Conquest or our Wreck: Or, what is left, their Carthage overcome Would render fain unto our better Rome.
Unless our Senate, lest their Youth disuse, The War, (but who would) Peace if begg'd refuse.
For now of nothing may our State despair, Darling of Heaven, and of Men the Care; Provided that they be what they have been, Watchful abroad, and honest still within.
For while our Neptune doth a Trident shake, Blake, Steel'd with those piercing Heads, Dean, Monck and And while Jove governs in the highest Sphere, Vainly in Hell let Pluto domineer.
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Eyes And Tears

 How wisely Nature did decree,
With the same Eyes to weep and see!
That, having view'd the object vain,
They might be ready to complain.
And since the Self-deluding Sight, In a false Angle takes each hight; These Tears which better measure all, Like wat'ry Lines and Plummets fall.
Two Tears, which Sorrow long did weigh Within the Scales of either Eye, And then paid out in equal Poise, Are the true price of all my Joyes.
What in the World most fair appears, Yea even Laughter, turns to Tears: And all the Jewels which we prize, Melt in these Pendants of the Eyes.
I have through every Garden been, Amongst the Red,the White, the Green; And yet, from all the flow'rs I saw, No Hony, but these Tears could draw.
So the all-seeing Sun each day Distills the World with Chymick Ray; But finds the Essence only Showers, Which straight in pity back he powers.
Yet happy they whom Grief doth bless, That weep the more, and see the less: And, to preserve their Sight more true, Bath still their Eyes in their own Dew.
So Magdalen, in Tears more wise Dissolv'd those captivating Eyes, Whose liquid Chains could flowing meet To fetter her Redeemers feet.
Not full sailes hasting loaden home, Nor the chast Ladies pregnant Womb, Nor Cynthia Teeming show's so fair, As two Eyes swoln with weeping are.
The sparkling Glance that shoots Desire, Drench'd in these Waves, does lose it fire.
Yea oft the Thund'rer pitty takes And here the hissing Lightning slakes.
The Incense was to Heaven dear, Not as a Perfume, but a Tear.
And Stars shew lovely in the Night, But as they seem the Tears of Light.
Ope then mine Eyes your double Sluice, And practise so your noblest Use.
For others too can see, or sleep; But only humane Eyes can weep.
Now like two Clouds dissolving, drop, And at each Tear in distance stop: Now like two Fountains trickle down: Now like two floods o'return and drown.
Thus let your Streams o'reflow your Springs, Till Eyes and Tears be the same things: And each the other's difference bears; These weeping Eyes, those seeing Tears.
Note: Magdala, lascivos sic quum dimisit Amantes, Fervidaque in castas lumina solvit aquas; Haesit in irriguo lachrymarum compede Christus, Et tenuit sacros uda Catena pedes.

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A Dialogue Between the Resolved Soul And Created Pleasure

 Courage my Soul, now learn to wield
The weight of thine immortal Shield.
Close on thy Head thy Helmet bright.
Ballance thy Sword against the Fight.
See where an Army, strong as fair, With silken Banners spreads the air.
Now, if thou bee'st that thing Divine, In this day's Combat let it shine: And shew that Nature wants an Art To conquer one resolved Heart.
Pleasure Welcome the Creations Guest, Lord of Earth, and Heavens Heir.
Lay aside that Warlike Crest, And of Nature's banquet share: Where the Souls of fruits and flow'rs Stand prepar'd to heighten yours.
Soul I sup above, and cannot stay To bait so long upon the way.
Pleasure On these downy Pillows lye, Whose soft Plumes will thither fly: On these Roses strow'd so plain Lest one Leaf thy Side should strain.
Soul My gentler Rest is on a Thought, Conscious of doing what I ought.
Pleasure If thou bee'st with Perfumes pleas'd, Such as oft the Gods appeas'd, Thou in fragrant Clouds shalt show Like another God below.
Soul A Soul that knowes not to presume Is Heaven's and its own perfume.
Pleasure Every thing does seem to vie Which should first attract thine Eye: But since none deserves that grace, In this Crystal view thy face.
Soul When the Creator's skill is priz'd, The rest is all but Earth disguis'd.
Pleasure Heark how Musick then prepares For thy Stay these charming Aires ; Which the posting Winds recall, And suspend the Rivers Fall.
Soul Had I but any time to lose, On this I would it all dispose.
Cease Tempter.
None can chain a mind Whom this sweet Chordage cannot bind.
Chorus Earth cannot shew so brave a Sight As when a single Soul does fence The Batteries of alluring Sense, And Heaven views it with delight.
Then persevere: for still new Charges sound: And if thou overcom'st thou shalt be crown'd.
Pleasure All this fair, and cost, and sweet, Which scatteringly doth shine, Shall within one Beauty meet, And she be only thine.
Soul If things of Sight such Heavens be, What Heavens are those we cannot see? Pleasure Where so e're thy Foot shall go The minted Gold shall lie; Till thou purchase all below, And want new Worlds to buy.
Soul Wer't not a price who 'ld value Gold? And that's worth nought that can be sold.
Pleasure Wilt thou all the Glory have That War or Peace commend? Half the World shall be thy Slave The other half thy Friend.
Soul What Friends, if to my self untrue? What Slaves, unless I captive you? Pleasure Thou shalt know each hidden Cause; And see the future Time: Try what depth the Centre draws; And then to Heaven climb.
Soul None thither mounts by the degree Of Knowledge, but Humility.
Chorus Triumph, triumph, victorious Soul; The World has not one Pleasure more: The rest does lie beyond the pole, And is thine everlasting Store.
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The Mower Against Gardens

 Luxurious Man, to bring his Vice in use,
Did after him the World seduce:
And from the Fields the Flow'rs and Plants allure,
Where Nature was most plain and pure.
He first enclos'd within the Gardens square A dead and standing pool of Air: And a more luscious Earth for them did knead, Which stupifi'd them while it fed.
The Pink grew then as double as his Mind; The nutriment did change the kind.
With strange perfumes he did the Roses taint.
And Flow'rs themselves were taught to paint.
The Tulip, white, did for complexion seek; And learn'd to interline its cheek: Its Onion root they then so high did hold, That one was for a Meadow sold.
Another World was search'd, though Oceans new, To find the Marvel Of Peru.
And yet these Rarities might be allow'd, To Man, that Sov'raign thing and proud; Had he not dealt between the Bark and Tree, Forbidden mixtures there to see.
No Plant now knew the Stock from which it came; He grafts upon the Wild the Tame: That the uncertain and adult'rate fruit Might put the Palate in dispute.
His green Seraglio has its Eunuchs too; Lest any Tyrant him out-doe.
And in the Cherry he does Nature vex, To procreate without a Sex.
'Tis all enforc'd; the Fountain and the Grot; While the sweet Fields do lye forgot: Where willing Nature does to all dispence A wild and fragrant Innocence: And Fauns and Faryes do the Meadows till, More by their presence then their skill.
Their Statues polish'd by some ancient hand, May to adorn the Gardens stand: But howso'ere the Figures do excel, The Gods themselves with us do dwell.
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The Mowers Song

 My Mind was once the true survey
Of all these Medows fresh and gay;
And in the greenness of the Grass
Did see its Hopes as in a Glass;
When Juliana came, and she
What I do to the Grass, does to my Thoughts and Me.
But these, while I with Sorrow pine, Grew more luxuriant still and fine; That not one Blade of Grass you spy'd, But had a Flower on either side; When Juliana came, and She What I do to the Grass, does to my Thoughts and Me.
Unthankful Meadows, could you so A fellowship so true forego, And in your gawdy May-games meet, While I lay trodden under feet? When Juliana came , and She What I do to the Grass, does to my Thoughts and Me.
But what you in Compassion ought, Shall now by my Revenge be wrought: And Flow'rs, and Grass, and I and all, Will in one common Ruine fall.
For Juliana comes, and She What I do to the Grass, does to my Thoughts and Me.
And thus, ye Meadows, which have been Companions of my thoughts more green, Shall now the Heraldry become With which I shall adorn my Tomb; For Juliana comes, and She What I do to the Grass, does to my Thoughts and Me.
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Fleckno an English Priest at Rome

 Oblig'd by frequent visits of this man,
Whom as Priest, Poet, and Musician,
I for some branch of Melchizedeck took,
(Though he derives himself from my Lord Brooke)
I sought his Lodging; which is at the Sign
Of the sad Pelican; Subject divine
For Poetry: There three Stair Cases high,
Which signifies his triple property,
I found at last a Chamber, as 'twas said,
But seem'd a Coffin set on the Stairs head.
Not higher then Seav'n, nor larger then three feet; Only there was nor Seeling, nor a Sheet, Save that th' ingenious Door did as you come Turn in, and shew to Wainscot half the Room.
Yet of his State no man could have complain'd; There being no Bed where he entertain'd: And though within one Cell so narrow pent, He'd Stanza's for a whole Appartement.
Straight without further information, In hideous verse, he, and a dismal tone, Begins to exercise; as if I were Possest; and sure the Devil brought me there.
But I, who now imagin'd my selfbrought To my last Tryal, in a serious thought Calm'd the disorders of my youthful Breast, And to my Martyrdom prepared Rest.
Only this frail Ambition did remain, The last distemper of the sober Brain, That there had been some present to assure The future Ages how I did indure: And how I, silent, turn'd my burning Ear Towards the Verse; and when that could n Held him the other; and unchanged yet, Ask'd still for more, and pray'd him to repeat: Till the Tyrant, weary to persecute, Left off, and try'd t'allure me with his Lute.
Now as two Instruments, to the same key Being tun'd by Art, if the one touched be The other opposite as soon replies, Mov'd by the Air and hidden Sympathies; So while he with his gouty Fingers craules Over the Lute, his murmuring Belly calls, Whose hungry Guts to the same streightness twin'd In Echo to the trembling Strings repin'd.
I, that perceiv'd now what his Musick ment, Ask'd civilly if he had eat this Lent.
He answered yes; with such, and such an one.
For he has this of gen'rous, that alone He never feeds; save only when he tryes With gristly Tongue to dart the passing Flyes.
I ask'd if he eat flesh.
And he, that was So hungry that though ready to say Mass Would break his fast before, said he was Sick, And th' Ordinance was only Politick.
Nor was I longer to invite him: Scant Happy at once to make him Protestant, And Silent.
Nothing now Dinner stay'd But till he had himself a Body made.
I mean till he were drest: for else so thin He stands, as if he only fed had been With consecrated Wafers: and the Host Hath sure more flesh and blood then he can boast.
This Basso Relievo of a Man, Who as a Camel tall, yet easly can The Needles Eye thread without any stich, (His only impossible is to be rich) Lest his too suttle Body, growing rare, Should leave his Soul to wander in the Air, He therefore circumscribes himself in rimes; And swaddled in's own papers seaven times, Wears a close Jacket of poetick Buff, With which he doth his third Dimension Stuff.
Thus armed underneath, he over all Does make a primitive Sotana fall; And above that yet casts an antick Cloak, Worn at the first Counsel of Antioch; Which by the Jews long hid, and Disesteem'd, He heard of by Tradition, and redeem'd.
But were he not in this black habit deck't, This half transparent Man would soon reflect Each colour that he past by; and be seen, As the Chamelion, yellow, blew, or green.
He drest, and ready to disfurnish now His Chamber, whose compactness did allow No empty place for complementing doubt, But who came last is forc'd first to go out; I meet one on the Stairs who made me stand, Stopping the passage, and did him demand: I answer'd he is here Sir; but you see You cannot pass to him but thorow me.
He thought himself affronted; and reply'd, I whom the Pallace never has deny'd Will make the way here; I said Sir you'l do Me a great favour, for I seek to go.
He gathring fury still made sign to draw; But himself there clos'd in a Scabbard saw As narrow as his Sword's; and I, that was Delightful, said there can no Body pass Except by penetration hither, where Two make a crowd, nor can three Persons here Consist but in one substance.
Then, to fit Our peace, the Priest said I too had some wit: To prov't, I said, the place doth us invite But its own narrowness, Sir, to unite.
He ask'd me pardon; and to make me way Went down, as I him follow'd to obey.
But the propitiatory Priest had straight Oblig'd us, when below, to celebrate Together our attonement: so increas'd Betwixt us two the Dinner to a Feast.
Let it suffice that we could eat in peace; And that both Poems did and Quarrels cease During the Table; though my new made Friend Did, as he threatned, ere 'twere long intend To be both witty and valiant: I loth, Said 'twas too late, he was already both.
But now, Alas, my first Tormentor came, Who satisfy'd with eating, but not tame Turns to recite; though Judges most severe After th'Assizes dinner mild appear, And on full stomach do condemn but few: Yet he more strict my sentence doth renew; And draws out of the black box of his Breast Ten quire of paper in which he was drest.
Yet that which was a greater cruelty Then Nero's Poem he calls charity: And so the Pelican at his door hung Picks out the tender bosome to its young.
Of all his Poems there he stands ungirt Save only two foul copies for his shirt: Yet these he promises as soon as clean.
But how I loath'd to see my Neighbour glean Those papers, which he pilled from within Like white fleaks rising from a Leaper's skin! More odious then those raggs which the French youth At ordinaries after dinner show'th, When they compare their Chancres and Poulains.
Yet he first kist them, and after takes pains To read; and then, because he understood good.
Not one Word, thought and swore that they were But all his praises could not now appease The provok't Author, whom it did displease To hear his Verses, by so just a curse, That were ill made condemn'd to be read worse: And how (impossible) he made yet more Absurdityes in them then were before.
For he his untun'd voice did fall or raise As a deaf Man upon a Viol playes, Making the half points and the periods run Confus'der then the atomes in the Sun.
Thereat the Poet swell'd, with anger full, And roar'd out, like Perillus in's own Bull; Sir you read false.
That any one but you Should know the contrary.
Whereat, I, now Made Mediator, in my room, said, Why? To say that you read false Sir is no Lye.
Thereat the waxen Youth relented straight; But saw with sad dispair that was too late.
For the disdainful Poet was retir'd Home, his most furious Satyr to have fir'd Against the Rebel; who, at this struck dead Wept bitterly as disinherited.
Who should commend his Mistress now? Or who Praise him? both difficult indeed to do With truth.
I counsell'd him to go in time, Ere the fierce Poets anger turn'd to rime.
He hasted; and I, finding my self free, Did, as he threatned, ere 'twere long intend As one scap't strangely from Captivity, Have made the Chance be painted; and go now To hang it in Saint Peter's for a Vow.
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On Mr. Miltons Paradise Lost

 When I beheld the Poet blind, yet bold,
In slender Book his vast Design unfold,
Messiah Crown'd, Gods Reconcil'd Decree,
Rebelling Angels, the Forbidden Tree,
Heav'n, Hell, Earth, Chaos, All; the Argument
Held me a while misdoubting his Intent,
That he would ruine (for I saw him strong)
The sacred Truths to Fable and old Song,
(So Sampson groap'd the Temples Posts in spight)
The World o'rewhelming to revenge his Sight.
Yet as I read, soon growing less severe, I lik'd his Project, the success did fear; Through that wide Field how he his way should find O're which lame Faith leads Understanding blind; Lest he perplext the things he would explain, And what was easie he should render vain.
Or if a Work so infinite he spann'd, Jealous I was that some less skilful hand (Such as disquiet alwayes what is well, And by ill imitating would excell) Might hence presume the whole Creations day To change in Scenes, and show it in a Play.
Pardon me, Mighty Poet, nor despise My causeless, yet not impious, surmise.
But I am now convinc'd, and none will dare Within thy Labours to pretend a Share.
Thou hast not miss'd one thought that could be fit, And all that was improper dost omit: So that no room is here for Writers left, But to detect their Ignorance or Theft.
That Majesty which through thy Work doth Reign Draws the Devout, deterring the Profane.
And things divine thou treats of in such state As them preserves, and Thee in violate.
At once delight and horrour on us seize, Thou singst with so much gravity and ease; And above humane flight dost soar aloft, With Plume so strong, so equal, and so soft.
The Bird nam'd from that Paradise you sing So never Flags, but alwaies keeps on Wing.
Where couldst thou Words of such a compass find? Whence furnish such a vast expense of Mind? Just Heav'n Thee, like Tiresias, to requite, Rewards with Prophesie thy loss of Sight.
Well might thou scorn thy Readers to allure With tinkling Rhime, of thy own Sense secure; While the Town-Bays writes all the while and spells, And like a Pack-Horse tires without his Bells.
Their Fancies like our bushy Points appear, The Poets tag them; we for fashion wear.
I too transported by the Mode offend, And while I meant to Praise thee, must Commend.
Thy verse created like thy Theme sublime, In Number, Weight, and Measure, needs not Rhime.