John Dryden

(1631 - 1700 / England)

To His Sacred Majesty. A Panegyric On His Coronation - Poem by John Dryden

In that wild deluge where the world was drown'd,
When life and sin one common tomb had found,
The first small prospect of a rising hill
With various notes of joy the ark did fill:
Yet when that flood in its own depths was drown'd,
It left behind it false and slippery ground;
And the more solemn pomp was still deferr'd,
Till new-born nature in fresh looks appear'd.
Thus, Royal Sir, to see you landed here,
Was cause enough of triumph for a year:
Nor would your care those glorious joys repeat,
Till they at once might be secure and great:
Till your kind beams, by their continued stay,
Had warm'd the ground, and call'd the damps away,
Such vapours, while your powerful influence dries,
Then soonest vanish when they highest rise.
Had greater haste these sacred rites prepared,
Some guilty months had in your triumphs shared:
But this untainted year is all your own;
Your glories may without our crimes be shown.
We had not yet exhausted all our store,
When you refresh'd our joys by adding more:
As Heaven, of old, dispensed celestial dew,
You gave us manna, and still give us new.

Now our sad ruins are removed from sight,
The season too comes fraught with new delight:
Time seems not now beneath his years to stoop,
Nor do his wings with sickly feathers droop:
Soft western winds waft o'er the gaudy spring,
And open'd scenes of flowers and blossoms bring,
To grace this happy day, while you appear,
Not king of us alone, but of the year.
All eyes you draw, and with the eyes the heart:
Of your own pomp, yourself the greatest part:
Loud shouts the nation's happiness proclaim,
And Heaven this day is feasted with your name.
Your cavalcade the fair spectators view,
From their high standings, yet look up to you.
From your brave train each singles out a prey,
And longs to date a conquest from your day.
Now charged with blessings while you seek repose,
Officious slumbers haste your eyes to close;
And glorious dreams stand ready to restore
The pleasing shapes of all you saw before.
Next to the sacred temple you are led,
Where waits a crown for your more sacred head:
How justly from the church that crown is due,
Preserved from ruin, and restored by you!
The grateful choir their harmony employ,
Not to make greater, but more solemn joy.
Wrapt soft and warm your name is sent on high,
As flames do on the wings of incense fly:
Music herself is lost; in vain she brings
Her choicest notes to praise the best of kings:
Her melting strains in you a tomb have found,
And lie like bees in their own sweetness drown'd.
He that brought peace, all discord could atone,
His name is music of itself alone.
Now while the sacred oil anoints your head,
And fragrant scents, begun from you, are spread
Through the large dome; the people's joyful sound,
Sent back, is still preserved in hallow'd ground;
Which in one blessing mix'd descends on you;
As heighten'd spirits fall in richer dew.
Not that our wishes do increase your store,
Full of yourself, you can admit no more:
We add not to your glory, but employ
Our time, like angels, in expressing joy.
Nor is it duty, or our hopes alone,
Create that joy, but full fruition:
We know those blessings, which we must possess,
And judge of future by past happiness.
No promise can oblige a prince so much
Still to be good, as long to have been such.
A noble emulation heats your breast,
And your own fame now robs you of your rest.
Good actions still must be maintain'd with good,
As bodies nourish'd with resembling food.

You have already quench'd sedition's brand;
And zeal, which burnt it, only warms the land.
The jealous sects, that dare not trust their cause
So far from their own will as to the laws,
You for their umpire and their synod take,
And their appeal alone to Caesar make.
Kind Heaven so rare a temper did provide,
That guilt, repenting, might in it confide.
Among our crimes oblivion may be set;
But 'tis our king's perfection to forget.
Virtues unknown to these rough northern climes
From milder heavens you bring, without their crimes.
Your calmness does no after-storms provide,
Nor seeming patience mortal anger hide.
When empire first from families did spring,
Then every father govern'd as a king:
But you, that are a sovereign prince, allay
Imperial power with your paternal sway.
From those great cares when ease your soul unbends,
Your pleasures are design'd to noble ends:
Born to command the mistress of the seas,
Your thoughts themselves in that blue empire please.
Hither in summer evenings you repair
To taste the _fraicheur_ of the purer air:
Undaunted here you ride, when winter raves,
With Caesar's heart that rose above the waves.
More I could sing, but fear my numbers stays;
No loyal subject dares that courage praise.
In stately frigates most delight you find,
Where well-drawn battles fire your martial mind.
What to your cares we owe, is learnt from hence,
When even your pleasures serve for our defence.
Beyond your court flows in th' admitted tide,
Where in new depths the wondering fishes glide:
Here in a royal bed[30] the waters sleep;
When tired at sea, within this bay they creep.
Here the mistrustful fowl no harm suspects,
So safe are all things which our king protects.
From your loved Thames a blessing yet is due,
Second alone to that it brought in you;
A queen, near whose chaste womb, ordain'd by fate,
The souls of kings unborn for bodies wait.
It was your love before made discord cease:
Your love is destined to your country's peace.
Both Indies, rivals in your bed, provide
With gold or jewels to adorn your bride.
This to a mighty king presents rich ore,
While that with incense does a god implore.
Two kingdoms wait your doom, and, as you choose,
This must receive a crown, or that must lose.
Thus from your royal oak, like Jove's of old,
Are answers sought, and destinies foretold:
Propitious oracles are begg'd with vows,
And crowns that grow upon the sacred boughs.
Your subjects, while you weigh the nation's fate,
Suspend to both their doubtful love or hate:
Choose only, Sir, that so they may possess,
With their own peace their children's happiness.

Form: Panegyric


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Poem Submitted: Monday, November 2, 2015



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