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Titlepage of Dryden's Annus Mirabilis

from Dryden's ANNUS MIRABILIS, 1667.

[London Reborn]

Methinks already from this chymic flame
      I see a city of more precious mould,
Rich as the town which gives the Indies name,
      With silver paved and all divine with gold.

Already, labouring with a mighty fate,
      She shakes the rubbish from her mounting brow
And seems to have renewed her charter's date
      Which Heaven will to the death of time allow.

More great than human now and more August,1
      New deified she from her fires does rise:
Her widening streets on new foundations trust,
      And, opening, into larger parts she flies.

Before, she like some shepherdess did show
      Who sate to bathe her by a river's side,
Not answering to her fame, but rude and low,
      Nor taught the beauteous arts of modern pride.

Now like a maiden queen she will behold
      From her high turrets hourly suitors come;
The East with incense and the West with gold
      Will stand like suppliants to receive her doom.2

The silver Thames, her own domestic flood,
      Shall bear her vessels like a sweeping train,
And often wind, as of his mistress proud,
      With longing eyes to meet her face again.

The wealthy Tagus3 and the wealthier Rhine4
      The glory of their towns no more shall boast,
And Seine,5 that would with Belgian rivers join,
      Shall find her lustre stained and traffic lost.

The venturous merchant who designed more far
      And touches on our hospitable shore,
Charmed with the splendour of this northern star
      Shall here unlade him and depart no more.

Our powerful navy shall no longer meet
      The wealth of France or Holland to invade;
The beauty of this town without a fleet
      From all the world shall vindicate her trade.

And while this famed emporium we prepare,
      The British ocean shall such triumphs boast,
That those who now disdain our trade to share
      Shall rob like pirates on our wealthy coast.

Already we have conquered half the war,
      And the less dangerous part is left behind;
Our trouble now is but to make them dare
      And not so great to vanquish as to find.

Thus to the Eastern wealth through storms we go,
      But now, the Cape once doubled, fear no more;
A constant trade-wind will securely blow
      And gently lay us on the spicy shore.

1. One of the Roman names for London was Londinium Augusta.
2. Doom, judgement.
3. Tagus river runs through Spain and Portugal.
4. The Rhine river runs from Switzerland through Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany,
and France, finally ending in the Netherlands.
5. The French river Seine runs from near Dijon in Burgundy, through Paris, emptying
into the English channel at Le Havre. The next line is an allusion to the fact that
King Louis XIV had plans to annex Spanish Flanders.


Dryden, John. Annus Mirabilis. W. D. Christie, ed.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1915. 44-46.

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