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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



Georges de La Tour. Magdalen of Night Light. 1630-35.
Georges de La Tour. Magdalen of Night Light.

To Mrs W. On Her Excellent Verses (Writ in
Praise of Some I Had Made On the Earl of

Rochester) Written in a Fit of Sickness.

Enough kind Heaven! To purpose I have lived,
And all my sighs and languishments survived.
My stars in vain their sullen influence have shed,
Round my till now unlucky head:
I pardon all the silent hours I've grieved,
My weary nights and melancholy days;
When no kind power my pain relieved,
I lose you all, you sad remembrances,
I lose you all in new-born joys,
Joys that will dissipate my falling tears.
The mighty soul of Rochester's revived,
Enough kind Heaven to purpose I have lived.
I saw the lovely phantom, no disguise
Veiled the blessed vision from my eyes,
'Twas all o'er Rochester that pleased and did surprise.
Sad as the grave I sat by glimmering light,
Such as attends departing souls by night.
Pensive as absent lovers left alone,
Or my poor dove, when his fond mate was gone.
Silent as groves when only whispering gales
Sigh through the rushing leaves,
As softly as a bashful shepherd breathes
To his loved nymph his amorous tales.
So dull I was, scarce thought a subject found,
Dull as the light that gloomed around;
When lo the mighty spirit appeared,
All gay, all charming to my sight;
My drooping soul it raised and cheered,
And cast about a dazzling light.
In every part there did appear,
The great, the god-like Rochester,
His softness all, his sweetness everywhere.
It did advance, and with a generous look,
To me addressed, to worthless me it spoke:
With the same wonted grace my Muse it praised,
With the same goodness did my faults correct:
And careful of the fame himself first raised,
Obligingly it schooled my loose neglect.
The soft, the moving accents soon I knew
The gentle voice made up of harmony;
Through the known paths of my glad soul it flew;
I knew it straight, it could no other's be,
'Twas not allied but very very he.
So the all-ravished swain that hears
The wondrous music of the spheres,
For ever does the grateful sound retain,
Whilst all his oaten pipes and reeds
The rural music of the groves and meads
Strive to divert him from the heavenly song in vain.
He hates their harsh and untuned lays,
Which now no more his soul and fancy raise.
But if one note of the remembered air
He chance again to hear,
He starts, and in a transport cries,—'tis there!
He knows it all by that one little taste,
And by that grateful hint remembers all the rest.
Great, good, and excellent, by what new way
Shall I my humble tribute pay,
For this vast glory you my Muse have done,
For this great condescension shown!
So gods of old sometimes laid by
Their aweful trains of majesty,
And changed even Heaven awhile for groves and
And to their fellow gods preferred the lowly swains.
And beds of flowers would oft compare,
To those of downy clouds or yielding air;
At purling streams would drink in homely shells,
Put off the god, to revel it in woods and shepherds'
Would listen to their rustic songs, and show
Such divine goodness in commending too,
Whilst the transported swain the honour pays
With humble adoration, humble praise.

Behn, Aphra. Oroonoko, and Other Writings. Paul Salzman, ed.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. 221-223.

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Restoration & 18th-century:

Samuel Butler
John Dryden
Samuel Pepys
John Bunyan
Aphra Behn
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea
Mary Astell
William Congreve
Matthew Prior
Daniel Defoe
John Gay
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Jonathan Swift
Joseph Addison
Sir Richard Steele
James Thomson
Alexander Pope
Dr. Samuel Johnson
Thomas Gray
William Collins
Christopher Smart
Oliver Goldsmith
George Crabbe
William Cowper
James Boswell
Essays and Articles
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