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.
 
To the Pious Memory of the Accomplished Young Lady Mrs. Anne Killigrew
By John Dryden (1631–1700)
 
Excellent in the Two Sister Arts of Poesy and Painting 1
An Ode

THOU youngest virgin-daughter of the skies,
  Made in the last promotion of the blest;
Whose palms, new plucked from Paradise,
In spreading branches more sublimely rise,
  Rich with immortal green above the rest;        5
Whether, adopted to some neighbouring star,
Thou roll’st above us in thy wandering race,
  Or, in procession fixed and regular
Moved with the heaven’s majestic pace;
  Or, called to more superior bliss,        10
Thou tread’st with seraphims the vast abyss:
Whatever happy region be thy place,
Cease thy celestial song a little space;
Thou wilt have time enough for hymns divine,
Since Heaven’s eternal year is thine.        15
Hear, then, a mortal Muse thy praise rehearse,
          In no ignoble verse,
But such as thy own voice did practise here,
When thy first fruits of poesy were given,
To make thyself a welcome inmate there;        20
  While yet a young probationer,
          A candidate of Heaven.
 
  If by traduction came thy mind,
  Our wonder is the less to find
A soul so charming from a stock so good;        25
Thy father was transfused into thy blood:
So wert thou born into a tuneful strain,
An early, rich, and inexhausted vein.
    But if thy pre-existing soul
Was formed at first with myriads more,        30
  It did through all the mighty poets roll
Who Greek or Latin laurels wore,
  And was that Sappho last, which once it was before.
  If so, then cease thy flight, O heaven-born mind!
Thou hast no dross to purge from thy rich ore:        35
  Nor can thy soul a fairer mansion find
  Than was the beautious frame she left behind:
  Return, to fill or mend the quire of thy celestial kind.
 
  May we presume to say, that, at thy birth,
New joy was sprung in heaven as well as here on earth?        40
For sure the milder planets did combine
On thy auspicious horoscope to shine,
And even the most malicious were in trine
Thy brother-angels at thy birth
  Strung each his lyre, and tuned it high,        45
  That all the people of the sky
Might know a poetess was born on earth;
    And then, if ever, mortal ears
    Had heard the music of the spheres.
    And if no clustering swarm of bees        50
  On thy sweet mouth distilled their golden dew,
    ’Twas that such vulgar miracles
    Heaven had not leisure to renew:
  For all the blest fraternity of love
Solemnised there thy birth, and kept thy holiday above.        55
 
    O gracious God! how far have we
  Profaned thy heavenly gift of Poesy!
  Made prostitute and profligate the Muse,
  Debased to each obscene and impious use,
  Whose harmony was first ordained above,        60
  For tongues of angels and for hymns of love!
  O wretched we! why were we hurried down
    This lubric and adulterate age,
  (Nay, added fat pollutions of our own),
    To increase the streaming ordures of the stage?        65
  What can we say to excuse our second fall?
  Let this thy Vestal, Heaven, atone for all:
  Her Arethusian stream remains unsoiled,
  Unmixed with foreign filth, and undefiled;
Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child.        70
 
  Art she had none, yet wanted none,
    For Nature did that want supply:
  So rich in treasures of her own,
    She might our boasted stores defy:
Such noble vigour did her verse adorn        75
That it seemed borrowed, where ’twas only born.
Her morals, too, were in her bosom bred,
  By great examples daily fed,
What in the best of books, her father’s life, she read.
  And to be read herself she need not fear;        80
  Each test, and every light, her Muse will bear,
  Though Epictetus with his lamp were there.
  Even love (for love sometimes her Muse exprest),
Was but a lambent flame which played about her breast;
    Light as the vapours of a morning dream,        85
  So cold herself, whilst she such warmth exprest,
    ’Twas Cupid bathing in Diana’s stream.
 
Born to the spacious empire of the Nine,
One would have thought she should have been content
To manage well that mighty government;        90
But what can young ambitious souls confine?
    To the next realm she stretched her sway,
    For Painture near adjoining lay,
A plenteous province and alluring prey.
A Chamber of Dependences was framed,        95
(As conquerors will never want pretence,
  When armed, to justify the offence),
And the whole fief in right of Poetry she claimed.
  The country open lay without defence;
For poets frequent inroads there had made,        100
    And perfectly could represent
    The shape, the face, with every lineament,
  And all the large demains which the dumb Sister swayed,
    All bowed beneath her government;
    Received in triumph wheresoe’er she went.        105
  Her pencil drew whate’er her soul designed,
And oft the happy draught surpassed the image in her mind
    The sylvan scenes of herds and flocks
    And fruitful plains and barren rocks;
    Of shallow brooks that flowed so clear,        110
    The bottom did the top appear;
    Of deeper too and ampler floods
    Which, as in mirrors, showed the woods;
    Of lofty trees, with sacred shades,
    And perspectives of pleasant glades,        115
    Where nymphs of brightest form appear,
    With shaggy satyrs standing near,
    Which them at once admire and fear.
    The ruins too of some majestic piece,
    Boasting the power of ancient Rome, or Greece,        120
    Whose statues, friezes, columns, broken lie,
    And, though defaced, the wonder of the eye;
    What nature, art, bold fiction, e’er durst frame,
    Her forming hand gave feature to the name.
    So strange a concourse ne’er was seen before,        125
But when the peopled ark the whole creation bore.
 
  The scene then changed; with bold erected look
Our martial King 2 the sight with reverence strook:
For, not content t’ express his outward part,
Her hand called out the image of his heart:        130
His warlike mind, his soul devoid of fear,
His high-designing thoughts were figured there,
As when by magic ghosts are made t’appear.
  Our Phœnix queen 3 was portrayed too so bright,
Beauty alone could beauty take so right:        135
Her dress, her shape, her matchless grace,
Were all observed, as well as heavenly face.
With such a peerless majesty she stands,
As in that day she took the crown from sacred hands;
Before a train of heroines was seen,        140
In beauty foremost, as in rank the queen.
  Thus nothing to her genius was denied,
But like a ball of fire, the further thrown,
Still with a greater blaze she shone,
  And her bright soul broke out on every side.        145
What next she had designed, Heaven only knows:
To such immoderate growth her conquest rose
That Fate alone its progress could oppose.
 
Now all those charms, that blooming grace,
The well-proportioned shape and beautious face,        150
Shall never more be seen by mortal eyes;
In earth the much-lamented virgin lies.
  Not wit nor piety could Fate prevent;
  Nor was the cruel Destiny content
  To finish all the murder at a blow,        155
  To sweep at once her life and beauty too;
But, like a hardened felon, took a pride
  To work more mischievously slow,
And plundered first, and then destroyed.
O double sacrilege on things divine,        160
To rob the relic, and deface the shrine!
  But thus Orinda died: 4
Heaven, by the same disease did both translate;
As equal was their souls, so equal was their fate.
 
Meantime, her warlike brother on the seas        165
His waving streamers to the winds displays,
And vows for his return, with vain devotion, pays.
  Ah, generous youth! that wish forbear,
  The winds too soon will waft thee here!
  Slack all thy sails, and fear to come;        170
Alas! thou know’st not, thou art wrecked at home
No more shalt thou behold thy sister’s face,
Thou hast already had her last embrace.
But look aloft, and if thou kenn’st from far,
Among the Pleiads, a new-kindled star,        175
If any sparkles than the rest more bright,
’Tis she that shines in that propitious light.
 
When, in mid-air the golden trump shall sound
  To raise the nations under ground;
  When, in the Valley of Jehosaphat        180
The judging God shall close the book of Fate,
  And there the last assizes keep
  For those who wake and those who sleep;
  When rattling bones together fly
  From the four corners of the sky;        185
When sinews o’er the skeletons are spread,
Those clothed with flesh, and life inspires the dead;
The sacred poets first shall hear the sound,
And foremost from the tomb shall bound,
For they are covered with the lightest ground;        190
And straight, with inborn vigour, on the wing,
Like mounting larks, to the new morning sing.
There thou, sweet saint, before the quire shalt go,
As harbinger of Heaven, the way to show,
The way which thou so well hast learned below.        195
 
Note 1. The lady commemorated in this elegy was “Miss” Killigrew, daughter of Dr. Henry Killigrew, Master of Savoy, and one of the Prebendaries of Westminster. She displayed great talent in painting and music; was maid of Honour to the Duchess of York, and died of the small-pox, in her twenty-fifth year, in 1685. Her Poems were published after her death. [back]
Note 2. Our martial king: James II, whose portrait she painted. [back]
Note 3. Our phœnix queen: Mary of Este: whose portrait was also painted by the young lady. [back]
Note 4. Orinda died: Katharine Philips, the ‘Matchless Orinda’ who died of the small-pox in 1664, in her thirty-third year. [back]
 
 
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