Edmund Waller

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Poets lose half the praise they should have got,
Could it be known what they discreetly blot.

Edmund Waller (March 3, 1606October 21, 1687) was an English poet.


  • The King governs by Law. Let us look back to the evils we had, in order to prevent more. There was loan, and ship-money, and extremes begat extremes. The House would then give no money. Let the King rely upon the Parliament; we have settled the Crown and the Government. 'Tis strange that we have sat so many years, and given so much money, and are still called upon for Supply. The Lords may give Supply with their own money, but we give the peoples; we are their proxies. The King takes his measures by the Parliament, and he doubts not but that all the Commons will supply for the Government; but giving at this rate that we have done, we shall be "a branch of the revenue." They will "anticipate" us too. But, let the officers say what they will, we will not make these mismanagements the King's error. 'Tis better it should fall upon us than the King. We give public money, and must see that it goes to public use. Tell your money, fix it to public ends, and take order against occasions of this nature for the future. We cannot live at the expence of Spain, that has the Indies; or France, who has so many millions of revenue. Let us look to our Government, Fleet, and Trade. 'Tis the advice that the oldest Parliament-man among you can give you; and so, God bless you!

Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham (1857)

Edited and introduced by George Gilfillan (Full text online)
  • Illustrious acts high raptures do infuse,
    And every conqueror creates a muse.
    • Panegyric to My Lord Protector (or Panegyric on Cromwell).
  • Guarded with ships, and all our sea our own.
    • To My Lord of Falkland.
  • To man, that was in th' evening made,
    Stars gave the first delight;
    Admiring, in the gloomy shade,
    Those little drops of light.
    • An Apology for Having Loved Before (1664).
  • That which her slender waist confined
    Shall now my joyful temples bind;
    No monarch but would give his crown
    His arms might do what this has done.
    • On a Girdle (1664), st. 1.
  • My joy, my grief, my hope, my love,
    Did all within this circle move!
    • On a Girdle (1664), st. 2.
  • Go, lovely rose!
    Tell her that wastes her time and me
    That now she knows,
    When I resemble her to thee,
    How sweet and fair she seems to be.
    • Go, Lovely Rose (1664), st. 1.
  • How small a part of time they share
    That are so wondrous sweet and fair!
    • Go, Lovely Rose (1664), st. 2.
  • Consent in virtue knit your hearts so fast,
    That still the knot, in spite of death, does last;
    For as your tears, and sorrow-wounded soul,
    Prove well that on your part this bond is whole,
    So all we know of what they do above,
    Is that they happy are, and that they love.
    Let dark oblivion, and the hollow grave,
    Content themselves our frailer thoughts to have;
    Well-chosen love is never taught to die,
    But with our nobler part invades the sky.
    Then grieve no more that one so heavenly shaped
    The crooked hand of trembling age escaped;
    Rather, since we beheld her not decay,
    But that she vanish'd so entire away,
    Her wondrous beauty, and her goodness, merit
    We should suppose that some propitious spirit
    In that celestial form frequented here,
    And is not dead, but ceases to appear.
    • Upon the Death of My Lady Rich (1664)
  • Poets that lasting marble seek
    Must come in Latin or in Greek.
    • Of English Verse (1668)
  • The Muses' friend, Tea, does our fancy aid,
    Repress the vapours which the head invade, 

    And keeps the palace of the soul serene.
    • Of Tea. Compare: "The dome of thought, the palace of the soul", Lord Byron, Childe Harold, canto ii. stanza 6.
  • Poets lose half the praise they should have got,
    Could it be known what they discreetly blot.
    • Upon Roscommon's Translation of Horace's De Arte Poetica
  • 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.
    • On the Divine Poems (1686). Compare: "To vanish in the chinks that Time has made", Samuel Rogers, Pæstum; "As that the walls worn thin, permit the mind

To look out thorough, and his frailty find", Samuel Daniel, History of the Civil War, Book iv, Stanza 84.

  • There is a garden in her face
    Where roses and white lilies blow;
    A heavenly paradise is that place,
    Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow:
    There cherries grow which none may buy
    Till 'Cherry-ripe' themselves do cry.


  • The yielding marble of her snowy breast.
    • On a Lady passing through a Crowd of People.
  • That eagle's fate and mine are one,
    Which on the shaft that made him die
    Espied a feather of his own,
    Wherewith he wont to soar so high.
    • To a Lady singing a Song of his Composing. See also Eagles, for variations on this theme.
  • A narrow compass! and yet there
    Dwelt all that 's good, and all that 's fair;
    Give me but what this riband bound,
    Take all the rest the sun goes round.
    • On a Girdle.
  • For all we know
    Of what the blessed do above
    Is, that they sing, and that they love.
    • While I listen to thy Voice.
  • Under the tropic is our language spoke,
    And part of Flanders hath receiv'd our yoke.
    • Upon the Death of the Lord Protector.
  • In such green palaces the first kings reign'd,
    Slept in their shades, and angels entertain'd;
    With such old counsellors they did advise,
    And by frequenting sacred groves grew wise.
    • On St. James's Park.
  • Could we forbear dispute and practise love,
    We should agree as angels do above.
    • Divine Love. Canto iii.

Quotes about Waller

  • He was indecisive, vacillating, with more wit than judgment, and with more judgment than earnestness. In that age of high hearts, stormy passions, and determined purpose, he looks helpless and not at home, like a butterfly in an eagle's eyrie. A gifted, accomplished, and apparently an amiable man, he was a feeble, and almost a despicable character. The parliament seem to have thought him hardly worth hanging. Cromwell bore with him only as a kinsman, and respected him only as a scholar. Charles II liked to laugh at his jokes, and to Saville his company was as good as an additional bottle of wine. ... Although he unquestionably in some points improved our correctness of style and our versification, there is not much to be said either for or against his poetry. It is as a whole a mass of smooth and easy, yet systematic, trifling. Nine-tenths of it does not rise above mediocrity, and the tenth that remains is more distinguished by grace than by grandeur or depth.
    • George Gilfillan in "The Life Of Edmund Waller" from his Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham (1857)

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