Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 232 pages of information about Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham.
170
All the rich mines of learning ransack’d are,
To furnish ammunition for this war: 
Uncharitable zeal our reason whets,
And double edges on our passion sets;
’Tis the most certain sign the world’s accursed,
That the best things corrupted are the worst;
’Twas the corrupted light of knowledge hurl’d
Sin, death, and ignorance o’er all the world;
That sun like this (from which our sight we have), 179
Gazed on too long, resumes the light he gave;
And when thick mists of doubts obscure his beams,
Our guide is error, and our visions, dreams;
’Twas no false heraldry when madness drew
Her pedigree from those who too much knew;
Who in deep mines for hidden knowledge toils,
Like guns o’ercharged, breaks, misses, or recoils;
When subtle wits have spun their thread too fine,
’Tis weak and fragile, like Arachne’s line: 
True piety, without cessation toss’d
By theories, the practic part is lost, 190
And like a ball bandied ’twixt pride and wit,
Rather than yield, both sides the prize will quit: 
Then whilst his foe each gladiator foils,
The atheist looking on enjoys the spoils. 
Through seas of knowledge we our course advance,
Discov’ring still new worlds of ignorance;
And these discov’ries make us all confess
That sublunary science is but guess;
Matters of fact to man are only known,
And what seems more is mere opinion; 200
The standers-by see clearly this event;
All parties say they’re sure, yet all dissent;
With their new light our bold inspectors press,
Like Cham, to show their fathers’ nakedness,
By whose example after ages may
Discover we more naked are than they;
All human wisdom to divine is folly;
This truth the wisest man made melancholy;
Hope, or belief, or guess, gives some relief,
But to be sure we are deceived brings grief:  210
Who thinks his wife is virtuous, though not so,
Is pleased and patient till the truth he know. 
Our God, when heaven and earth he did create,
Form’d man who should of both participate;
If our lives’ motions theirs must imitate,
Our knowledge, like our blood, must circulate. 
When like a bridegroom from the east, the sun
Sets forth, he thither, whence he came, doth run;
Into earth’s spongy veins the ocean sinks,
Those rivers to replenish which he drinks; 220
So learning, which from reason’s fountain springs,
Back to the source some secret channel brings. 
’Tis happy when our streams of knowledge flow
To fill their banks, but not to overthrow.

  Ut metit Autumnus fruges quas parturit Aestas,
  Sic ortum Natura, dedit Deus his quoque finem.

[1]’From thence’:  Gracia Major. [2] ‘The name’:  Vates. [3] ‘The tragedian’:  Seneca.

ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF HENRY LORD HASTINGS, 1650.

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Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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