John Denham

John Denham Poems

Thus to Glaucus spake
Divine Sarpedon, since he did not find
Others, as great in place, as great in mind:--

Sure there are poets which did never dream
Upon Parnassus, nor did taste the stream
Of Helicon; we therefore may suppose

Having at large declared Jove's embassy,
Cyllenius from Aeneas straight doth fly;
He, loth to disobey the god's command,

Such is our pride, our folly, or our fate,
That few but such as cannot write, translate.
But what in them is want of art or voice,

Though all the actions of your life are crown'd
With wisdom, nothing makes them more renown'd,

Love! in what poison is thy dart
Dipp'd, when it makes a bleeding heart?
None know but they who feel the smart.

What gives us that fantastic fit,
That all our judgment and our wit
To vulgar custom we submit?

O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
My great example, as it is my theme!
Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;

'Tis the first sanction Nature gave to man,
Each other to assist in what they can;
Just or unjust, this law for ever stands;

You heard of that wonder, of the lightning and thunder,
Which made the lie so much the louder:
Now list to another, that miracle's brother,


Morpheus! the humble god, that dwells
In cottages and smoky cells,
Hates gilded roofs and beds of down;
And though he fears no prince's frown,

But will you now to peace incline,
And languish in the main design,
And leave us in the lurch?
I would not monarchy destroy,

Do you not know, not a fortnight ago,
How they bragg'd of a Western Wonder?
When a hundred and ten slew five thousand men,

A tablet stood of that abstersive tree,
Where Aethiop's swarthy bird did build her nest;
Inlaid it was with Libyan ivory,

Wisdom's first progress is to take a view
What's decent or indecent, false or true.

Old Chaucer, like the morning star,
To us discovers day from far;
His light those mists and clouds dissolved,

So shall we joy, when all whom beasts and worms
Have turn'd to their own substances and forms:
Whom earth to earth, or fire hath changed to fire,

Our resident Tom,
From Venice is come,
And hath left the statesman behind him;

Toll, toll,
Gentle bell, for the soul

Great Strafford! worthy of that name, though all
Of thee could be forgotten, but thy fall,
Crush'd by imaginary treason's weight,

John Denham Biography

Sir John Denham (1614 or 1615 – 19 March 1669) was an English poet and courtier. He served as Surveyor of the King's Works and is buried in Westminster Abbey. Denham was born in Dublin to Sir John Denham, judge and Chief Baron of the Exchequer of Ireland, and his second wife Eleanor. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford and at Lincoln's Inn in London. He began his literary career with a tragedy, The Sophy (1641), but his poem, Cooper's Hill (1642), is the work by which he is remembered. It is the first example in English of a poem devoted to local description, describing the Thames scenery round his home at Egham in Surrey. Denham wrote many versions of this poem, reflecting the political and cultural upheavals of the British Civil War. Denham received extravagant praise from Dr Samuel Johnson; but the place now assigned him is a much more humble one. His verse is smooth, clear, and agreeable, and occasionally a thought is expressed with remarkable terseness and force. In his earlier years Denham suffered for his Royalism; during the English Civil War, he was high sheriff of Surrey and governor of Farnham Castle, but after the Restoration enjoyed prosperity. He, however, made an unhappy marriage, and his last years were clouded by dementia. Although he initially trained as a lawyer, after the Restoration he succeeded (pre-Restoration) Inigo Jones as Surveyor of the King's Works. However, though he claimed that the post had been promised him in 1649, it is likely the 1661 appointment was more for reasons of his earlier political services than for any aptitude as an architect: John Webb, who, as Inigo Jones' deputy had the competence to have served in the post, and complained "though Mr. Denham may, as most gentry, have some knowledge of the theory of architecture, he can have none of the practice and must employ another."there is no evidence that he personally designed any buildings, although he seems to have been a competent administrator. John Webb was appointed Denham's deputy by 1664 and did Denham's work at Greenwich (from 1666) and elsewhere; with Denham's increasing mental incapacity, Charles II requested in March 1669 that Christopher Wren be appointed Denham's "sole deputy"; Wren succeeded him as King's Surveyor upon his death two weeks later. Denham became a Member of Parliament for Old Sarum in 1661, became a Fellow of the Royal Society on 20 May 1663, and became a Knight of the Bath. He was buried in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.)

The Best Poem Of John Denham

Sarpedon's Speech To Glaucus, In The Twelfth Book Of Homer

Thus to Glaucus spake
Divine Sarpedon, since he did not find
Others, as great in place, as great in mind:--
Above the rest why is our pomp, our power?
Our flocks, our herds, and our possessions more?
Why all the tributes land and sea affords
Heap'd in great chargers, load our sumptuous boards?
Our cheerful guests carouse the sparkling tears
Of the rich grape, while music charms their ears?
Why, as we pass, do those on Xanthus' shore,
As gods behold us, and as gods adore?
But that, as well in danger as degree,
We stand the first; that when our Licians see
Our brave examples, they admiring say,
Behold our gallant leaders! These are they
Deserve the greatness, and unenvied stand,
Since what they act transcends what they command.
Could the declining of this fate (O friend!)
Our date to immortality extend?
Or if death sought not them who seek not death,
Would I advance? or should my vainer breath
With such a glorious folly thee inspire?
But since with Fortune Nature doth conspire,
Since age, disease, or some less noble end,
Though not less certain, does our days attend;
Since 'tis decreed, and to this period lead
A thousand ways, the noblest path we'll tread,
And bravely on, till they, or we, or all,
A common sacrifice to honour fall.

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