Page images
PDF
EPUB

From thy sleepy mansion rise,
And open thy unwilling eyes,
While bubbling springs their music keep,
That use to lull thee in thy sleep.

1664

SONG

I feed a flame within, which so torments me
That it both pains my heart and yet contents me;
'T is such a pleasing smart, and I so love it,
That I had rather die than once remove it.

[blocks in formation]

Yet he for whom I grieve shall never know it;
My tongue does not betray, nor my eyes show it:
Not a sigh nor a tear my pain discloses,
But they fall silently, like dew on roses.

10

Thus, to prevent my love from being cruel,
My heart's the sacrifice, as 't is the fuel;
And while I suffer this to give him quiet,
My faith rewards my love, though he deny it.

On his eyes will I gaze, and there delight me;
While I conceal my love, no frown can fright me:
To be more happy I dare not aspire,
Nor can I fall more low, mounting no higher.

1667.

15

FROM

ANNUS MIRABILIS

THE WAR WITH HOLLAND

And now, reduced on equal terms to fight,

Their ships like wasted patrimonies show, Where the thin scatt'ring trees admit the light

And shun each other's shadows as they grow.

5

The warlike Prince had severed from the rest

Two giant ships, the pride of all the main; Which with his one so vigorously he pressed,

And flew so home, they could not rise again.

[ocr errors]

Already battered by his lee they lay;

In vain upon the passing winds they call;
The passing winds through their torn canvas play,

And flagging sails on heartless sailors fall.

Their opened sides receive a gloomy light,

Dreadful as day let in to shades below; Without, grim Death rides barefaced in their sight,

And urges ent'ring billows as they flow:

15

When one dire shot, the last they could supply,

Close by the board the Prince's mainmast bore; All three now helpless by each other lie,

And this offends not and those fear no more.

20

So ve I seen some fearful hare maintain

A course, till tired before the dog she lay, Who, stretched behind her, pants upon the plain,

Past pow'r to kill, as she to get away:

[blocks in formation]

With his lolled tongue he faintly licks his prey;

His warm breath blows her Aix up as she lies; She, trembling, creeps upon the ground away,

And looks back to him with beseeching eyes. 1666.

1667.

THE GREAT LONDON FIRE

The diligence of trades, and noiseful gain,

And luxury, more late, asleep were laid; All was the Night's, and in her silent reign

No sound the rest of Nature did invade.

[ocr errors][merged small]

In this deep quiet, from what source unknown,

Those seeds of fire their fatal birth disclose; And, first, few scatt'ring sparks about were blown,

Big with the flames that to our ruin rose.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Then in some close-pent room it crept along,

And, smould'ring as it went, in silence fed; Till th' infant monster, with devouring strong,

Walked boldly upright with exalted head.

Now, like some rich or mighty murderer,

Too great for prison, which he breaks with gold, Who fresher for new mischiefs does appear,

And dares the world to tax him with the old,

15

So 'scapes th' insulting fire his narrow jail,

And makes small outlets into open air; There the fierce winds his tender force assail,

And beat him downward to his first repair.

20

The winds, like crafty courtezans, withheld

His flames from burning but to blow them more; And, every fresh attempt, he is repelled

With faint denials weaker than before.

25

And now, no longer letted of his prey,

He leaps up at it with enraged desire; O'erlooks the neighbours with a wide survey,

And nods at every house his threat’ning fire.

30

The ghosts of traitors from the bridge descend,

With bold fanatic spectres to rejoice; About the fire into a dance they bend,

And sing their Sabbath notes with feeble voice.

Our guardian angel saw them where they sate

Above the palace of our slumb'ring King; He sighed, abandoning his charge to Fate,

And, drooping, oft looked back upon the wing.

35

At length the crackling noise and dreadful blaze

Called up some waking lover to the sight; And long it was ere he the rest could raise,

Whose heavy eyelids yet were full of night.

40

The next to danger, hot pursued by Fate,

Half-clothed, half-naked, hastily retire;
And frighted mothers strike their breasts too late,

For helpless infants left amidst the fire.

45

Their cries soon waken all the dwellers near.

Now murmuring noises rise in every street; The more remote run stumbling with their fear,

And in the dark men jostle as they meet.

50

So weary bees in little cells repose;

But if night-robbers lift the well-stored hive, An humming through their waxen city grows,

And out upon each other's wings they drive.

Now streets grow thronged and busy as by day:

Some run for buckets to the hallowed quire; Some cut the pipes, and some the engines play;

And some more bold mount ladders to the fire.

55

In vain: for from the east a Belgian wind

His hostile breath through the dry rafters sent; The flames, impelled, soon left their foes behind,

And forward with a' wanton fury went. 1666.

1667.

60

PROLOGUE TO “AURENG-ZEBE"

5

IO

Our author, by experience, finds it true
'T is much more hard to please himself than you,
And, out of no feigned modesty, this day
Damns his laborious trifle of a play;
Not that it's worse than what before he writ,
But he has now another taste of wit,
And, to confess a truth, though out of time,
Grows weary of his long-loved mistress, Rhyme:
Passion's too fierce to be in fetters bound,
And nature flies him like enchanted ground.
What verse can do he has performed in this,
Which he presumes the most correct of his:
But, spite of all his pride, a secret shame
Invades his breast at Shakespeare's sacred name;
Awed when he hears his god-like Romans rage,
He, in a just despair, would quit the stage,
And to an age less polished, more unskilled,
Does with disdain the foremost honours yield.
As with the greater dead he dares not strive,
He would not match his verse with those who live;
Let him retire, betwixt two ages cast,
The first of this and hindmost of the last.
A losing gamester, let him sneak away;
He bears no ready money from the play.

15

20

25

30

The fate which governs poets thought it fit
He should not raise his fortunes by his wit.
The clergy thrive, and the litigious bar;
Dull heroes fatten with the spoils of war;
All southern vices, Heav'n be praised, are here;
But wit's a luxury you think too dear.
When you to cultivate the plant are loth,
'T is a shrewd sign 't was never of your growth;
And wit in northern climates will not blow,
Except, like orange-trees, 't is housed from snow.
There needs no care to put a play-house down,
'T is the most desert place of all the town:
We and our neighbours, to speak proudly, are,
Like monarchs, ruined with expensive war;
While, like wise English, unconcerned you sit,
And see us play the tragedy of wit.
1675.

1675.

35

40

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »