‘New-year’s day’: Lady
Morton, daughter of Sir Edward Villiers,
niece of the Duke of Buckingham, and wife of Lord Douglas, of
Dalkeith, one of the most celebrated beauties of her day. She
accompanied the Princess Henrietta in disguise to Paris. Waller,
then in France, wrote these lines in 1650.
TO A FAIR LADY, PLAYING WITH A SNAKE.
1 Strange! that such horror and such grace
Should dwell together in one place;
A fury’s arm, an angel’s face!
2 ’Tis innocence, and youth, which makes
In Chloris’ fancy such mistakes,
To start at love, and play with snakes.
3 By this and by her coldness barr’d,
Her servants have a task too hard;
The tyrant has a double guard!
4 Thrice happy snake! that in her sleeve
May boldly creep; we dare not give
Our thoughts so unconfined a leave.
5 Contented in that nest of snow
He lies, as he his bliss did know,
And to the wood no more would go.
6 Take heed, fair Eve! you do not make
Another tempter of this snake;
A marble one so warm’d would speak.
TO HIS WORTHY FRIEND MASTER EVELYN, UPON HIS TRANSLATION
Lucretius, (with a stork-like fate,
Born, and translated, in a state)
Comes to proclaim, in English verse,
No Monarch rules the universe;
But chance, and atoms, make this All
In order democratical,
Where bodies freely run their course,
Without design, or fate, or force.
And this in such a strain he sings,
As if his Muse, with angels’ wings, 10
Had soar’d beyond our utmost sphere,
And other worlds discover’d there;
For his immortal, boundless wit,
To Nature does no bounds permit,
But boldly has removed those bars
Of heaven, and earth, and seas, and stars,
By which they were before supposed,
By narrow wits, to be enclosed,
Till his free Muse threw down the pale,
And did at once dispark them all. 20
So vast this argument did seem,
That the wise author did esteem
The Roman language (which was spread
O’er the whole world, in triumph led)
A tongue too narrow to unfold
The wonders which he would have told.
This speaks thy glory, noble friend!
And British language does commend;
For here Lucretius whole we find,
His words, his music, and his mind. 30
Thy art has to our country brought
All that he writ, and all he thought.
Ovid translated, Virgil too,
Show’d long since what our tongue could do;
Nor Lucan we, nor Horace spared;
Only Lucretius was too hard.
Lucretius, like a fort, did stand 37
Untouch’d, till your victorious hand
Did from his head this garland bear,
Which now upon your own you wear:
A garland made of such new bays,
And sought in such untrodden ways,
As no man’s temples e’er did crown,
Save this great author’s, and your own!