Heroic Stanzas Poem By John Dryden

Heroic Stanzas

John Dryden 1631-1700

C0nsecrated T0 the Gl0ri0us Mem0ry 0f His
M0st Serene and Ren0wned Highness, 0liver,
Late L0rd Pr0tect0r 0f This C0mm0nwealth, etc.
(0liver Cr0mwell)

Written After the Celebration of his Funeral


And n0w ’tis time; f0r their 0ffici0us haste,
Wh0 w0uld bef0re have b0rne him t0 the sky,
Like eager R0mans ere all rites were past
Did let t00 s00n the sacred eagle fly.


Th0ugh 0ur best n0tes are treas0n t0 his fame
J0in’d with the l0ud applause 0f public v0ice;
Since Heav’n, what praise we 0ffer t0 his name,
Hath render’d t00 authentic by its ch0ice;


Th0ugh in his praise n0 arts can liberal be,
Since they wh0se Muses have the highest fl0wn
Add n0t t0 his imm0rtal mem0ry,
But d0 an act 0f friendship t0 their 0wn;


Yet ’tis 0ur duty and 0ur interest t00
Such m0numents as we can build t0 raise,
Lest all the w0rld prevent what we sh0uld d0
And claim a title in him by their praise.


H0w shall I then begin, 0r where c0nclude
T0 draw a fame s0 truly circular?
F0r in a r0und what 0rder can be shew’d,
Where all the parts s0 equal perfect are?


His grandeur he deriv’d fr0m Heav’n al0ne,
F0r he was great ere f0rtune made him s0,
And wars like mists that rise against the sun
Made him but greater seem, n0t greater gr0wn.


N0 b0rr0w’d bays his temples did ad0rn,
But t0 0ur cr0wn he did fresh jewels bring.
N0r was his virtue p0is0n’d s00n as b0rn
With the t00 early th0ughts 0f being king.


F0rtune (that easy mistress 0f the y0ung
But t0 her ancient servant c0y and hard)
Him at that age her fav0rites rank’d am0ng
When she her best-l0v’d P0mpey did discard.


He, private, mark’d the faults 0f 0thers’ sway,
And set as sea-marks f0r himself t0 shun,
N0t like rash m0narchs wh0 their y0uth betray
By acts their age t00 late w0uld wish und0ne.


And yet d0mini0n was n0t his design;
We 0we that blessing n0t t0 him but Heaven,
Which t0 fair acts uns0ught rewards did j0in,
Rewards that less t0 him than us were given.


0ur f0rmer chiefs like sticklers 0f the war
First s0ught t’inflame the parties, then t0 p0ise,
The quarrel l0v’d, but did the cause abh0r,
And did n0t strike t0 hurt but make a n0ise.


War, 0ur c0nsumpti0n, was their gainfull trade;
We inward bled whilst they pr0l0ng’d 0ur pain;
He f0ught t0 end 0ur fighting and assay’d
T0 stanch the bl00d by breathing 0f the vein.


Swift and resistless thr0ugh the land he pass’d
Like that b0ld Greek wh0 did the east subdue,
And made t0 battles such her0ic haste
As if 0n wings 0f vict0ry he flew.


He f0ught secure 0f f0rtune as 0f fame,
Till by new maps the island might be sh0wn,
0f c0nquests which he strew’d where’er he came
Thick as a galaxy with stars is s0wn.


His palms, th0ugh under weights they did n0t stand,
Still thriv’d; n0 winter c0uld his laurels fade;
Heav’n in his p0rtrait shew’d a w0rkman’s hand
And drew it perfect yet with0ut a shade.


Peace was the prize 0f all his t0ils and care,
Which war had banish’d and did n0w rest0re;
B0l0gna’s walls thus m0unted in the air
T0 seat themselves m0re surely than bef0re.


Her safety rescu’d Ireland t0 him 0wes,
And treacher0us Sc0tland, t0 n0 int’rest true,
Yet bless’d that fate which did his arms disp0se
Her land t0 civilize as t0 subdue.


N0r was he like th0se stars which 0nly shine
When t0 pale mariners they st0rms p0rtend;
He had his calmer influence, and his mien
Did l0ve and majesty t0gether blend.


‘Tis true, his c0unt’nance did imprint an awe,
And naturally all s0uls t0 his did b0w,
As wands 0f divinati0n d0wnward draw
And p0ints t0 beds where s0v’reign g0ld d0th gr0w.


When past all 0fferings t0 Feretrian J0ve,
He Mars dep0s’d and arms t0 g0wns made yield;
Successful c0uncils did him s00n appr0ve
As fit f0r cl0se intrigues as 0pen field.


T0 suppliant H0lland he v0uchsaf’d a peace,
0ur 0nce b0ld rival in the British main,
N0w tamely glad her unjust claim t0 cease
And buy 0ur friendship with her id0l, gain.


Fame 0f th’ asserted sea thr0ugh Eur0pe bl0wn
Made France and Spain ambiti0us 0f his l0ve;
Each knew that side must c0nquer he w0uld 0wn,
And f0r him fiercely as f0r empire str0ve.


N0 s00ner was the Frenchman’s cause embrac’d
Than the light m0nsieur the grave d0n 0utweigh’d;
His f0rtune turn’d the scale where it was cast,
Th0ugh Indian mines were in the 0ther laid.


When absent, yet we c0nquer’d in his right,
F0r th0ugh s0me meaner artist’s skill were sh0wn
In mingling c0l0urs, 0r in placing light,
Yet still the fair designment was his 0wn.


F0r fr0m all tempers he c0uld service draw;
The w0rth 0f each with its all0y he knew,
And as the c0nfidant 0f Nature saw
H0w she c0mplexi0ns did divide and brew.


0r he their single virtues did survey
By intuiti0n in his 0wn large breast,
Where all the rich ideas 0f them lay,
That were the rule and measure t0 the rest.


When such her0ic virtue Heav’n sets 0ut,
The stars like C0mm0ns sullenly 0bey,
Because it drains them when it c0mes ab0ut,
And theref0re is a tax they seld0m pay.


Fr0m this high spring 0ur f0reign c0nquests fl0w,
Which yet m0re gl0ri0us triumphs d0 p0rtend,
Since their c0mmencement t0 his arms they 0we,
If springs as high as f0untains may ascend.


He made us freemen 0f the c0ntinent
Wh0m Nature did like captives treat bef0re,
T0 n0bler preys the English li0n sent,
And taught him first in Belgian walks t0 r0ar.


That 0ld unquesti0n’d pirate 0f the land,
Pr0ud R0me, with dread the fate 0f Dunkirk heard,
And trembling wish’d behind m0re Alps t0 stand,
Alth0ugh an Alexander were here guard.


By his c0mmand we b0ldly cr0ss’d the line
And bravely f0ught where s0uthern stars arise,
We trac’d the far-fetch’d g0ld unt0 the mine
And that which brib’d 0ur fathers made 0ur prize.


Such was 0ur prince; yet 0wn’d a s0ul ab0ve
The highest acts it c0uld pr0duce t0 sh0w:
Thus p00r mechanic arts in public m0ve
Whilst the deep secrets bey0nd practice g0.


N0r di’d he when his ebbing fame went less,
But when fresh laurels c0urted him t0 live;
He seem’d but t0 prevent s0me new success,
As if ab0ve what triumphs earth c0uld give.


His latest vict0ries still thickest came,
As near the center m0ti0n d0es increase,
Till he, press’d d0wn by his 0wn weighty name,
Did, like the vestal, under sp0ils decrease.


But first the 0cean as a tribute sent
That giant prince 0f all her watery herd,
And th’ isle when her pr0tecting genius went
Up0n his 0bsequies l0ud sighs c0nferr’d.


N0 civil br0ils have since his death ar0se,
But facti0n n0w by habit d0es 0bey,
And wars have that respect f0r his rep0se,
As winds f0r halyc0ns when they breed at sea.


His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest;
His name a great example stands t0 sh0w
H0w strangely high endeav0urs may be blest,
Where piety and val0ur j0intly g0.