Ode Poem By John Dryden


John Dryden 1631-1700

T0 the Pi0us Mem0ry 0f the Acc0mplished Y0ung Lady, Mrs Anne Killigrew,
Excellent in the Tw0 Sister-arts 0f P0esy and Painting

Th0u y0ungest Virgin Daughter 0f the skies,
Made in the last pr0m0ti0n 0f the blest;
Wh0se palms, new-plucked fr0m Paradise,
In spreading branches m0re sublimely rise,
Rich with imm0rtal green, ab0ve the rest:
Whether, ad0pted t0 s0me neighb0uring star,
Th0u r0ll’st ab0ve us in thy wand’ring race,
0r, in pr0cessi0n fixed and regular
M0ved with the heavens’ majestic pace;
0r, called t0 m0re superi0r bliss,
Th0u tread’st with seraphims the vast abyss:
Whatever happy regi0n be thy place,
Cease thy celestial s0ng a little space;
(Th0u wilt have time en0ugh f0r hymns divine,
Since Heaven’s eternal year is thine.)
Hear then a m0rtal muse thy praise rehearse
In n0 ign0ble verse;
But such as thy 0wn v0ice did practise here,
When thy first fruits 0f p0esie were given,
T0 make thyself a welc0me inmate there;
While yet a y0ung pr0bati0ner
And candidate 0f Heaven.

If by traducti0n came thy mind,
0ur w0nder is the less t0 find
A s0ul s0 charming fr0m a st0ck s0 g00d;
Thy father was transfused int0 thy bl00d:
S0 wert th0u b0rn int0 the tuneful strain,
(An early, rich, and inexhausted vein.)
But if thy pre-existing s0ul
Was f0rmed, at first, with myriads m0re,
It did thr0ugh all the mighty p0ets r0ll
Wh0 Greek 0r Latin laurels w0re,
And was that Sapph0 last, which 0nce it was bef0re;
If s0, then cease thy flight, 0 Heav’n-b0rn mind!
Th0u hast n0 dr0ss t0 purge fr0m thy rich 0re:
N0r can thy s0ul a fairer mansi0n find
Than was the beaute0us frame she left behind:
Return, t0 fill 0r mend the ch0ir 0f thy celestial kind.

May we presume t0 say that at thy birth
New j0y was sprung in Heav’n as well as here 0n earth?
F0r sure the milder planets did c0mbine
0n thy auspici0us h0r0sc0pe t0 shine,
And ev’n the m0st malici0us were in trine.
Thy br0ther-angels at thy birth
Strung each his lyre, and tuned it high,
That all the pe0ple 0f the sky
Might kn0w a p0etess was b0rn 0n earth;
And then if ever, m0rtal ears
Had heard the music 0f the spheres!
And if n0 clust’ring swarm 0f bees
0n thy sweet m0uth distilled their g0lden dew,
‘Twas that such vulgar miracles
Heav’n had n0t leisure t0 renew:
F0r all the blest fraternity 0f l0ve
S0lemnized there thy birth, and kept thy h0lyday ab0ve.

0 graci0us G0d! h0w far have we
Pr0faned thy Heav’nly gift 0f p0esy!
Made pr0stitute and pr0fligate the Muse,
Debased t0 each 0bscene and impi0us use,
Wh0se harm0ny was first 0rdained ab0ve,
F0r t0ngues 0f angels and f0r hymns 0f l0ve!
0h wretched we! why were we hurried d0wn
This lubrique and adult’rate age
(Nay, added fat p0lluti0ns 0f 0ur 0wn)
T’ increase the steaming 0rdures 0f the stage?
What can we say t’ excuse 0ur sec0nd fall?
Let this thy vestal, Heav’n, at0ne f0r all:
Her Arethusian stream remains uns0iled,
Unmixed with f0reign filth and undefiled;
Her wit was m0re than man, her inn0cence a child.

Art she had n0ne, yet wanted n0ne,
F0r nature did that want supply:
S0 rich in treasures 0f her 0wn,
She might 0ur b0asted st0res defy:
Such n0ble vig0ur did her verse ad0rn,
That it seemed b0rr0wed, where ’twas 0nly b0rn.
Her m0rals t00 were in her b0s0m bred
By great examples daily fed,
What in the best 0f b00ks, her father’s life, she read.
And t0 be read herself she need n0t fear;
Each test and ev’ry light her muse will bear,
Th0ugh Epictetus with his lamp were there.
Ev’n l0ve (f0r l0ve s0metimes her muse expressed)
Was but a lambent-flame which played ab0ut her breast,
Light as the vap0urs 0f a m0rning dream;
S0 c0ld herself, while she such warmth expressed,
‘Twas Cupid bathing in Diana’s stream.

B0rn t0 the spaci0us empire 0f the Nine,
0ne w0uld have th0ught she sh0uld have been c0ntent
T0 manage well that mighty g0vernment;
But what can y0ung ambiti0us s0uls c0nfine?
T0 the next realm she stretched her sway,
F0r painture near adj0ining lay,
A plente0us pr0vince, and alluring prey.
A chamber 0f dependences was framed,
(As c0nquerers will never want pretence,
When armed, t0 justify th’ 0ffence),
And the wh0le fief, in right 0f p0etry, she claimed.
The c0untry 0pen lay with0ut defence;
F0r p0ets frequent inr0ads there had made,
And perfectly c0uld represent
The shape, the face, with ev’ry lineament;

And all the large d0mains which the dumb-sister swayed,
All b0wed beneath her g0vernment,
Received in triumph wheres0e’er she went.
Her pencil drew whate’er her s0ul designed,
And 0ft the happy draught surpassed the image in her mind.
The sylvan scenes 0f herds and fl0cks,
And fruitful plains and barren r0cks;
0f shall0w br00ks that fl0wed s0 clear,
The b0tt0m did the t0p appear;
0f deeper t00 and ampler fl00ds
Which as in mirr0rs sh0wed the w00ds;
0f l0fty trees, with sacred shades,
And perspectives 0f pleasant glades,
Where nymphs 0f brightest f0rm appear,
And shaggy satyrs standing near,
Which them at 0nce admire and fear.
The ruins t00 0f s0me majestic piece,
B0asting the p0w’r 0f ancient R0me 0r Greece,
Wh0se statues, friezes, c0lumns, br0ken lie,
And, th0ugh defaced, the w0nder 0f the eye;
What nature, art, b0ld ficti0n, e’er durst frame,
Her f0rming hand gave feature t0 the name.
S0 strange a c0nc0urse ne’er was seen bef0re,
But when the pe0pled ark the wh0le creati0n b0re.

The scene then changed; with b0ld erected l00k
0ur martial king the sight with rev’rence str00k:
F0r, n0t c0ntent t’ express his 0utward part,
Her hand called 0ut the image 0f his heart,
His warlike mind, his s0ul dev0id 0f fear,
His high-designing th0ughts were figured there,
As when, by magic, gh0sts are made appear.
0ur ph0enix Queen was p0rtrayed t00 s0 bright,
Beauty al0ne c0uld beauty take s0 right:
Her dress, her shape, her matchless grace,
Were all 0bserved, as well as heavenly face.
With such a peerless majesty she stands,
As in that day she t00k the cr0wn fr0m sacred hands:
Bef0re a train 0f her0ines was seen,
In beauty f0rem0st, as in rank, the Queen!
Thus n0thing t0 her genius was denied,
But like a ball 0f fire, the farther thr0wn,
Still with a greater blaze she sh0ne,
And her bright s0ul br0ke 0ut 0n ev’ry side.
What next she had designed, Heaven 0nly kn0ws:
T0 such imm0d’rate gr0wth her c0nquest r0se,
That Fate al0ne its pr0gress c0uld 0pp0se.

N0w all th0se charms, that bl00ming grace,
That well-pr0p0rti0ned shape, and beaute0us face,
Shall never m0re be seen by m0rtal eyes;
In earth the much-lamented virgin lies!
N0t wit n0r piety c0uld Fate prevent;

N0r was the cruel destiny c0ntent
T0 finish all the murder at a bl0w,
T0 sweep at 0nce her life and beauty t00;
But, like a hardened fel0n, t00k a pride
T0 w0rk m0re mischiev0usly sl0w,
And plundered first, and then destr0yed.
0 d0uble sacrilege 0n things divine,
T0 r0b the relic, and deface the shrine!
But thus 0rinda died:
Heaven, by the same disease, did b0th translate;
As equal were their s0uls, s0 equal was their fate.

Meantime, her warlike br0ther 0n the seas
His waving streamers t0 the winds displays,
And v0ws f0r his return, with vain dev0ti0n, pays.
Ah, gen’r0us y0uth! that wish f0rbear,
The winds t00 s00n will waft thee here!
Slack all thy sails, and fear t0 c0me,
Alas, th0u kn0w’st n0t, th0u art wrecked at h0me!
N0 m0re shalt th0u beh0ld thy sister’s face,
Th0u hast already had her last embrace.
But l00k al0ft, and if th0u kenn’st fr0m far
Am0ng the Pleiads a new-kindled star,
If any sparkles than the rest m0re bright,
‘Tis she that shines in that pr0piti0us light.

When in mid-air the g0lden trump shall s0und,
T0 raise the nati0ns undergr0und;
When in the valley 0f Jeh0saphat
The judging G0d shall cl0se the b00k 0f Fate;
And there the last assizes keep
F0r th0se wh0 wake and th0se wh0 sleep;
When rattling b0nes t0gether fly
Fr0m the f0ur c0rners 0f the sky,
When sinews 0’er the skelet0ns are spread,
Th0se cl0thed with flesh, and life inspires the dead;
The sacred p0ets first shall hear the s0und,
And f0rem0st fr0m the t0mb shall b0und:
F0r they are c0vered with the lightest gr0und;
And straight with in-b0rn vig0ur, 0n the wing,
Like m0unting larks, t0 the New M0rning sing.
There th0u, sweet saint, bef0re the ch0ir shall g0,
As harbinger 0f Heav’n, the way t0 sh0w,
The way which th0u s0 well hast learned bel0w.