Monday, November 23, 2015

Edmund Waller

Edmund Waller (1606—1687) is an English poet who was elected to parliament when he was sixteen-years-old. He was educated at Eton College, and King's College, Cambridge. He tried to play both sides in the stormy political 1640s. After he had been caught by parliamentarians in his plot to secure London for the King, he was exiled from 1643 to 1652. In 1655 Waller's "Panegyrick to my Lord Protector" appeared, which seems to have been an attempt to gain Cromwell's favour. By 1660 he (perhaps more sincerely) celebrated “To the King, upon his Majesties happy return.”

Both John Dryden and Alexander Pope were admirers of Waller's poetry, in particular his "heroic couplets", which they both imitated. Edmund Waller's Divine Poems appeared in 1685.

Of the Last Verses in the Book

When we for age could neither read nor write,
The subject made us able to indite.
The soul, with nobler resolutions decked,
The body stooping, does herself erect:
No mortal parts are requisite to raise
Her, that unbodied can her Maker praise.

The seas are quiet, when the winds give o’er,
So calm are we, when passions are no more:
For then we know how vain it was to boast
Of fleeting things, so certain to be lost.
Clouds of affection from our younger eyes
Conceal that emptiness, which age descries.

The soul’s dark cottage, battered and decayed,
Lets in new light through chinks that time has made;
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become
As they draw near to their eternal home:
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view,
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.