Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
Loyalty Confined
By Sir Roger L’Estrange (1616–1704)
 
  BEAT 1 on, proud billows; Boreas, blow;
    Swell, curlèd waves, high as Jove’s roof;
  Your incivility doth show
    That innocence is tempest-proof:
Though surly Nereus frown, my thoughts are calm;        5
Then strike, Affliction, for thy wounds are balm.
 
  That which the world miscalls a jail,
    A private closet is to me,
  Whilst a good conscience is my bail,
    And innocence my liberty:        10
Locks, bars, and solitude together met,
Make me no prisoner, but an anchoret.
 
  I, whilst I wished to be retried,
    Into this private room was turned;
  As if their wisdom had conspired        15
    The salamander should be burned;
Or like a sophy that would drown a fish,
I am constrained to suffer what I wish.
 
  The cynic loves his poverty;
    The pelican her wilderness;        20
  And ’tis the Indian’s pride to be
    Naked on frozen Caucasus:
Contentment cannot smart; stoics we see
Make torments easy to their apathy.
 
  These manacles upon my arm        25
    I, as my mistress’ favours, wear;
  And for to keep my ancles warm,
    I have some iron shackles there:
These walls are but my garrison; this cell,
Which men call jail, doth prove my citadel.        30
 
  I’m in the cabinet locked up,
    Like some high-prizèd margarite,
  Or like the great Mogul or Pope,
    Am cloistered up from public sight:
Retiredness is a piece of majesty,        35
And thus, proud sultan, I’m as great as thee.
 
  Here sin for want of food must starve,
    Where tempting objects are not seen;
  And these strong walls do only serve
    To keep vice out, and keep me in:        40
Malice of late’s grown charitable, sure,
I’m not committed, but am kept secure.
 
  So he that struck at Jason’s life,
    Thinking to’ have made his purpose sure,
  By a malicious friendly knife        45
    Did only wound him to a cure:
Malice, I see, wants wit; for what is meant
Mischief, ofttimes proves favour by the event.
 
  When once my Prince affliction hath,
    Prosperity doth treason seem;        50
  And for to smooth so rough a path,
    I can learn patience from him:
Now not to suffer shows no loyal heart,
When kings want ease, subjects must bear a part.
 
  What though I cannot see my King,        55
    Neither in person nor in coin;
  Yet contemplation is a thing
    That renders what I have not, mine:
My King from me what adamant can part,
Whom I do wear engraven on my heart?        60
 
  Have you not seen the nightingale,
    A pilgrim coopt into a cage,
  How doth she chaunt her wonted tale
    In that her narrow hermitage?
Even there her charming melody doth prove        65
That all her bars are trees, her cage a grove.
 
  I am that bird, whom they combine
    Thus to deprive of liberty;
  But though they do my corps confine,
    Yet, maugre hate, my soul is free:        70
And though immured, yet can I chirp and sing
Disgrace to rebels, glory to my King.
 
  My soul is free as ambient air,
    Although my baser part’s immewed,
  Whilst loyal thoughts do still repair        75
    To’ accompany my solitude:
Although rebellion do my body bind,
My King alone can captivate my mind.
 
Note 1. From A. Wright’s Parnassus Biceps, 1656. [back]
 
 
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