At Penshurst

Edmund Waller

WHILE in this park I sing, the listening deer

Attend my passion, and forget to fear;

When to the beeches I report my flame,

They bow their heads, as if they felt the same.

To gods appealing, when I reach their bowers

With loud complaints, they answer me in showers.

To thee a wild and cruel soul is given,

More deaf than trees, and prouder than the heaven!

Love’s foe professed! why dost thou falsely feign

Thyself a Sidney? from which noble strain

He sprung, that could so far exalt the name

Of Love, and warm our nation with his flame,

That all we can of love or high desire

Seems but the smoke of amorous Sidney’s fire.

Nor call her mother who so well does prove

One breast may hold both chastity and love.

Never can she, that so exceeds the spring

In joy and bounty, be supposed to bring

One so destructive. To no human stock

We owe this fierce unkindness, but the rock;

That cloven rock produced thee, by whose side

Nature, to recompense the fatal pride

Of such stern beauty, placed those healing springs

Which not more help than that destruction brings.

Thy heart no ruder than the rugged stone,

I might, like Orpheus, with my numerous moan

Melt to compassion; now my traitorous song

With thee conspires to do the singer wrong;

While thus I suffer not myself to lose

The memory of what augments my woes,

But with my own breath still foment the fire,

Which flames as high as fancy can aspire!

  This last complaint the indulgent ears did pierce

Of just Apollo, president of verse;

Highly concernéd that the Muse should bring

Damage to one whom he had taught to sing,

Thus he advised me: “On yon aged tree

Hang up thy lute, and hie thee to the sea,

That there with wonders thy diverted mind

Some truce, at least, may with this passion find.”

Ah, cruel nymph! from whom her humble swain

Flies for relief unto the raging main,

And from the winds and tempests does expect

A milder fate than from her cold neglect!

Yet there he ’ll pray that the unkind may prove

Blest in her choice; and vows this endless love

Springs from no hope of what she can confer,

Main Location:

Penshurst, Kent TN11, UK