John Dryden

Here you will find the Long Poem Ode To the Pious Memory of the accomplished young lady, Mrs. Anne Killigrew, excellent in the two sister arts of Poesy and Painting of poet John Dryden

Ode To the Pious Memory of the accomplished young lady, Mrs. Anne Killigrew, excellent in the two sister arts of Poesy and Painting

THOU youngest virgin-daughter of the skies, 
   Made in the last promotion of the blest; 
   Whose palms, new pluck'd from Paradise, 
   In spreading branches more sublimely rise, 
   Rich with immortal green above the rest: 
   Whether, adopted to some neighbouring star, 
   Thou roll'st above us, in thy wandering race, 
   Or, in procession fixt and regular, 
   Mov'd with the heaven's majestic pace; 
   Or, call'd to more superior bliss, 
   Thou tread'st with seraphims the vast abyss: 
   Whatever happy region is thy place, 
   Cease thy celestial song a little space; 
   Thou wilt have time enough for hymns divine, 
   Since Heaven's eternal year is thine. 
   Hear, then, a mortal Muse thy praise rehearse, 
   In no ignoble verse; 
   But such as thy own voice did practise here, 
   When thy first-fruits of Poesy were given, 
   To make thyself a welcome inmate there; 
   While yet a young probationer, 
   And candidate of heaven. 

   If by traduction came thy mind, 
   Our wonder is the less, to find 
   A soul so charming from a stock so good; 
   Thy father was transfus'd into thy blood: 
   So wert thou born into the tuneful strain, 
   An early, rich, and inexhausted vein. 
   But if thy pre-existing soul 
   Was form'd at first with myriads more, 
   It did through all the mighty poets roll 
   Who Greek or Latin laurels wore, 
And was that Sappho last, which once it was before. 
   If so, then cease thy flight, O heaven-born mind! 
   Thou hast no dross to purge from thy rich ore: 
   Nor can thy soul a fairer mansion find, 
   Than was the beauteous frame she left behind: 
Return, to fill or mend the quire of thy celestial kind. 

   May we presume to say, that, at thy birth, 
New joy was sprung in heaven as well as here on earth? 
   For sure the milder planets did combine 
   On thy auspicious horoscope to shine, 
   And even the most malicious were in trine. 
   Thy brother-angels at thy birth 
   Strung each his lyre, and tun'd it high, 
   That all the people of the sky 
   Might know a poetess was born on earth; 
   And then, if ever, mortal ears 
   Had heard the music of the spheres. 
   And if no clust'ring swarm of bees 
   On thy sweet mouth distill'd their golden dew, 
   'Twas that such vulgar miracles 
   Heaven had not leisure to renew: 
   For all the blest fraternity of love 
Solemniz'd there thy birth, and kept thy holiday above. 

   O gracious God! how far have we 
   Profan'd thy heavenly gift of Poesy! 
   Made prostitute and profligate the Muse, 
   Debas'd to each obscene and impious use, 
   Whose harmony was first ordain'd above, 
   For tongues of angels and for hymns of love! 
   O wretched we! why were we hurried down 
   This lubrique and adulterate age 
   (Nay, added fat pollutions of our own), 
   To increase the streaming ordures of the stage? 
   What can we say to excuse our second fall? 
   Let this thy Vestal, Heaven, atone for all! 
   Her Arethusian stream remains unsoil'd, 
   Unmixt with foreign filth, and undefil'd; 
Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child. 

   Art she had none, yet wanted none, 
   For Nature did that want supply: 
   So rich in treasures of her own, 
   She might our boasted stores defy: 
   Such noble vigour did her verse adorn, 
   That it seem'd borrow'd, where 'twas only born. 
   Her morals, too, were in her bosom bred, 
   By great examples daily fed, 
What in the best of books, her father's life, she read. 
   And to be read herself she need not fear; 
   Each test, and every light, her Muse will bear, 
   Though Epictetus with his lamp were there.