Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ELEONORA; A PANEGYRICAL POEM, by JOHN DRYDEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ELEONORA; A PANEGYRICAL POEM, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: As when some great and gracious monarch dies
Last Line: For thou shalt make it live, because it sings of thee.
Subject(s): Death; Life; Nations; Soul; Dead, The

AS, when some Great and Gracious Monarch dies,
Soft whispers, first, and mournful Murmurs rise
The Introduction.
Among the sad Attendants; then, the sound
Soon gathers voice, and spreads the news around,
Through Town and Country, till the dreadful blast
Is blown to distant Colonies at last;
Who, then perhaps, were off' ring Vowsin vain,
For his long life and for his happy Reign:
So slowly, by degrees, unwilling Fame
Did Matchless Eleonora's fate proclaim,
Till publick as the loss the news became.
The Nation felt it, in th' extremest parts,
With eyes o'reflowing and with bleeding hearts:
But most the Poor, whom daily she supply'd;
Beginning to be such, but when she dy'd.
Of her Charity.
For, while she liv'd, they slept in peace, by night;
Secure of bread, as of returning light,
And, with such firm dependence on the Day,
That need grew pamper'd; and forgot to pray:
So sure the Dole, so ready at their call,
They stood prepar'd to see the Manna fall.
Such Multitudes she fed, she cloath'd, she nurst,
That she, her self, might fear her wanting first.
Of her Five Talents, other five she made;
Heav'n, that had largely giv'n, was largely pay'd;
And, in few lives, in wondrous few, we find
A Fortune better fitted to the Mind.
Nor did her Alms from Ostentation fall,
Or proud desire of Praise; the Soul gave all:
Unbrib'd it gave; or, if a bribe appear,
No less than Heav'n; to heap huge treasures, there.
Want passed for Merit, at her open door:
Heav'n saw, he safely might increase his Poor,
And trust their Sustenance with her so well
As not to be at charge of Miracle.
None cou'd be needy, whom she saw, or knew;
All, in the compass of her Sphear, she drew:
He who cou'd touch her Garment, was as sure,
As the first Christians of th' Apostles cure.
The distant heard, by fame, her pious deeds;
And laid her up, for their extremest needs;
A future Cordial for a fainting Mind;
For, what was ne're refus'd, all hop'd to find,
Each in his turn: The Rich might freely come,
As to a Friend; but to the Poor, 'twas Home.
As to some Holy House th' Afflicted came;
The Hunger-starv'd, the Naked, and the Lame;
Want and Diseases fled before her Name.
For zeal like hers, her Servants were too slow;
She was the first, where need requir'd, to go,
Her self the Foundress, and Attendant too.
Sure she had Guests sometimes to entertain,
Guests in disguise, of her Great Master's Train:
Her Lord himself might come, for ought we know;
Since in a Servant's form he liv'd below;
Beneath her Roof, he might be pleased to stay:
Or some benighted Angel, in his way
Might ease his Wings; and seeing Heav'n appear
In its best work of Mercy, think it there,
Where all the deeds of Charity and Love
Were in as constant Method, as above,
All carry'd on; all of a piece with theirs;
As free her Alms, as diligent her cares;
As loud her Praises, and as warm her Pray'rs.
Yet was she not profuse; but fear'd to wast,
And wisely manag'd, that the stock might last;
Of her prudent management.
That all might be supply'd; and she not grieve
When crowds appear'd, she had not to relieve.
Which to prevent, she still increas'd her store;
Laid up, and spar'd, that she might give the more:
So Pharaoh, or some Greater king than he,
Provided for the sev'nth Necessity:
Taught from above, his Magazines to frame;
That Famine was prevented e're it came.
Thus Heav'n, though All-sufficient, shows a thrift
In his Oeconomy, and bounds his gift:
Creating for our Day, one single Light;
And his Reflection too supplies the Night:
Perhaps a thousand other Worlds, that lye
Remote from us, and latent in the Sky,
Are lighten'd by his Beams, and kindly nurst;
Of which our Earthly Dunghil is the worst.
Now, as all Vertues keep the middle line,
Yet somewhat more to one extreme incline,
Such was her Soul; abhorring Avarice,
Bounteous, but, almost bounteous to a Vice:
Had she giv'n more, it had Profusion been,
And turn'd the excess of Goodness, into Sin.
These Vertues rais'd her Fabrick to the Sky;
For that which is next Heav'n, is Charity.
Of her Humility.
But, as high Turrets for their Ay'ry steep
Require Foundations, in proportion deep:
And lofty Cedars as far upward shoot
As to the neather Heav'ns they drive the root;
So low did her secure Foundation lye,
She was not Humble, but Humility.
Scarcely she knew that she was great, or fair,
Or wise, beyond what other Women are,
Or, which is better, knew; but never durst compare.
For to be conscious of what all admire,
And not be vain, advances Vertue high'r:
But still she found, or rather thought she found,
Her own worth wanting, others' to abound:
Ascrib'd above their due to ev'ry one,
Unjust and scanty to her self alone.
Such her Devotion was, as might give rules
Of Speculation, to disputing Schools;
Of her Piety.
And teach us equally the Scales to hold
Betwixt the two Extremes of hot and cold
That pious heat may mod'rately prevail,
And we be warm'd, but not be scorch'd with zeal.
Business might shorten, not disturb her Pray'r;
Heav'n had the best, if not the greater share.
An Active life long Oraisons forbids;
Yet still she pray'd, for still she pray'd by deeds.
Her ev'ry day was Sabbath; Only free
From hours of Pray'r, for hours of Charity.
Such as the Jews from servile toil releast;
Where works of Mercy were a part of rest:
Such as blest Angels exercise above,
Vary'd with Sacred Hymns, and Acts of Love;
Such Sabbaths as that one she now enjoys;
Ev'n that perpetual one, which she employs,
(For such vicissitudes in Heav'n there are)
In Praise alternate, and alternate Pray'r.
All this she practis'd here; that when she sprung
Amidst the Quires, at the first sight she sung.
Sung, and was sung her self, in Angels Lays;
For praising her, they did her Maker praise.
All Offices of Heav'n so well she knew,
Before she came, that nothing there was new;
And she was so familiarly receiv'd,
As one returning, not as one arriv'd.
Muse, down again precipitate thy flight;
For how can Mortal Eyes sustain Immortal Light!
Of her various Vertues.
But as the Sun in Water we can bear,
Yet not the Sun, but his Reflection there,
So let us view her here, in what she was,
And take her Image in this watry Glass:
Yet look not ev'ry Lineament to see;
Some will be cast in shades; and some will be
So lamely drawn, you scarcely know, 'tis she.
For where such various Vertues we recite,
'Tis like the Milky-Way, all over bright,
But sown so thick with Stars, 'tis undistinguish'd light.
Her Vertue, not her Vertues let us call;
For one Heroick comprehends 'em all:
One, as a Constellation is but one;
Though 'tis a Train of Stars, that, rolling on,
Rise in their turn, and in the Zodiack run,
Everin Motion; now'tis Faith ascends,
Now Hope, now Charity, that upward tends,
And downwards with diffusive Good, descends.
As in Perfumes compos'd with Art and Cost,
'Tis hard to say what Scent is uppermost;
Nor this part Musk or Civet can we call,
Or Amber, but a rich Result of all;
So, she was all a Sweet; whose ev'ry part,
In due proportion mix'd, proclaim'd the Maker's Art.
No single Virtue we cou'd most commend,
Whether the Wife, the Mother, or the Friend;
For she was all, in that supreme degree,
That, as no one prevail'd, so all was she.
The sev'ral parts lay hidden in the Piece;
Th' Occasion but exerted that, or this.
A Wife as tender, and as true withall,
As the first Woman was, before her fall:
Of her Conjugal Virtues.
Made, for the Man, of whom she was a part;
Made, to attract his Eyes, and keep his Heart,
A second Eve, but by no crime accurst;
As beauteous, not as brittle as the first.
Had she been first, still Paradise had bin,
And Death had found no entrance by her sin.
So she not only had preserv'd from ill
Her Sex and ours, but liv'd their Pattern still.
Love and Obedience to her Lord she bore,
She much obey'd him, but she lov'd him more.
Not aw'd to Duty by superior sway;
But taught by his Indulgence to obey.
Thus we love God as Author of our good;
So Subjects love just Kings, or so they shou'd.
Nor was it with Ingratitude return'd;
In equal Fires the blissful Couple burn'd:
One Joy possess'd 'em both, and in one Grier they mourn'd.
His Passion still improv'd: he lov'd so fast
As if he fear'd each day wou'd be her last.
Too true a Prophet to foresee the Fate
That shou'd so soon divide their happy State:
When he to Heav'n entirely must restore
That Love, that Heart, where he went halves before.
Yet as the Soul is all in ev'ry part,
So God and He, might each have all her Heart.
So had her Children too; for Charity
Was not more fruitful, or more kind than she:
Of her love to her Children.
Each under other by degrees they grew;
A goodly Perspective of distant view.
Anchises look'd not with so pleas'd a face
In numb'ring o'er his future Roman Race,
And Marshalling the Heroes of his name,
As, in their Order, next to light they came;
Nor Cybele with half so kind an Eye,
Survey'd her Sons and Daughters of the Skie.
Proud, shall I say, of her immortal Fruit,
As far as Pride with Heav'nly Minds may suit.
Her pious love excell'd to all she bore;
New Objects only multiply'd it more.
Her care of their Education.
And as the Chosen found the perly Grain
As much as ev'ry Vessel could contain;
As in the Blissful Vision each shall share,
As much of Glory, as his soul can bear;
So did she love, and so dispense her Care.
Her eldest thus, by consequence, was best;
As longer cultivated than the rest:
The Babe had all that Infant care beguiles,
And early knew his Mother in her smiles:
But when dilated Organs let in day
To the young Soul, and gave it room to play,
At his first aptness, the Maternal Love
Those Rudiments of Reason did improve:
The tender Age was pliant to command;
Like Wax it yielded to the forming hand:
True to th' Artificer, the labour'd Mind
With ease was pious, generous, just and kind;
Soft for Impression, from the first, prepar'd,
Till Vertue, with long exercise, grew hard;
With ev'ry Act confirm'd; and made, at last
So durable, as not to be effac'd,
It turned to Habit; and, from Vices free,
Goodness resolv'd into Necessity.
Thus fix'd she Virtue's Image, that's her own,
Till the whole Mother in the Children shone;
For that was their perfection; she was such,
They never cou'd express her Mind too much,
So unexhausted her Perfections were,
That, for more Children, she had more to spare;
For Souls unborn, whom her untimely death
Depriv'd of Bodies and of mortal breath:
And (cou'd they take th' Impressions of her Mind)
Enough still left to sanctifie her kind.
Then wonder not to see this Soul extend
The bounds, and seek some other self, a Friend:
Of her Friendship.
As swelling Seas to gentle Rivers glide,
To seek repose, and empty out the Tyde;
So this full Soul, in narrow limits pent,
Unable to contain her, sought a vent,
To issue out, and in some friendly breast
Discharge her Treasures, and securely rest:
T' unbosom all the secrets of her Heart,
Take good advice, but better to impart.
For 'tis the bliss of Friendship's holy state
To mix their Minds, and to communicate;
Though Bodies cannot, Souls can penetrate.
Fixt to her choice; inviolably true;
And wisely chusing, for she chose but few.
Some she must have; but in no one cou'd find
A Tally fitted for so large a Mind.
The Souls of Friends like Kings in Progress are;
Still in their own, though from the Pallace far:
Thus her Friend's Heart her Country Dwelling was,
A sweet Retirement to a courser place:
Where Pomp and Ceremonies enter'd not;
Where Greatness was shut out, and Buis'ness well forgot.
This is th' imperfect draught; but short as far
As the true height and bigness of a Star
Exceeds the Measures of th' Astronomer.
She shines above, we know, but in what place,
How near the Throne, and Heav'ns Imperial Face,
By our weak Opticks is but vainly ghest;
Distance and Altitude conceal the rest.
Tho all these rare Endowments of the Mind
Were in a narrow space of life confin'd;
Reflections on the shortness of her life.
The Figure was with full Perfection crown'd;
Though not so large an Orb, as truly round.
As when in glory, through the publick place,
The Spoils of conquer'd Nations were to pass,
And but one Day for Triumph was allowed,
The Consul was constrain'd his Pomp to crowd;
And so the swift Procession hurry'd on,
That all, though not distinctly, might be shown:
So, in the straiten'd bounds of life confin'd,
She gave but glimpses of her glorious Mind
And multitudes of Vertues pass'd along,
Each pressing foremost in the mighty throng;
Ambitious to be seen, and then make room,
For greater Multitudes that were to come.
Yet unemploy'd no Minute slipt away;
Moments were precious in so short a stay
the haste of Heav'n to have her was so great
That some were single Acts, though each compleat;
But ev'ry Act stood ready to repeat.
Her fellow Saints with busie care, will look
For her blest Name in Fate's eternal Book;
And, pleas'd to be outdone, with joy will see
Numberless Vertues, endless Charity;
But more will wonder at so short an Age
To find a Blank beyond the thirti'th Page;
And with a pious fear begin to doubt
The Piece imperfect, and the rest torn out.
But 'twas her Saviour's time; and, cou'd there be
A Copy near th' Original, 'twas she.
She dy'd in her thirly third year.
As precious Gums are not for lasting fire,
They but perfume the Temple, and expire,
So was she soon exhal'd; and vanish'd hence;
A short sweet Odour, of a vast expence.
She vanish'd, we can scarcely say she dy'd;
For but a Now, did Heav'n and Earth divide:
She pass'd serenely with a single breath,
This moment perfect health, the next was death.
One sigh, did her eternal Bliss assure;
The manner of her death.
So little Penance needs, when Souls are almost pure.
As gentle Dreams our waking Thoughts pursue;
Or, one Dream pass'd, we slide into a new;
(So close they follow, such wild Order keep,
We think our selves awake, and are asleep:)
So softly death succeeded life, in her;
She did but dream of Heav'n, and she was there.
No Pains she suffer'd, nor expir'd with Noise;
Her Soul was whisper'd out, with God's still Voice;
As an old Friend is beckon'd to a Feast,
And treated like a long familiar Guest;
He took her as he found; but found her so,
As one in hourly readiness to go.
Her preparedness to dye.
Ev'n on that day, in all her Trim prepar'd;
As early notice she from Heav'n had heard,
And some descending Courier, from above
Had giv'n her timely warning to remove:
Or counsell'd her to dress the nuptial Room;
For on that Night the Bridegroom was to come.
She dy'd on Whitsunday night.
He kept his hour, and found her where she lay
Cloath'd all in white, the Liv'ry of the Day:
Scarce had she sinn'd in thought, or word, or act;
Unless Omissions were to pass for fact:
That hardly Death a Consequence cou'd draw,
To make her liable to Nature's Law.
And that she dy'd, we only have to show,
The mortal part of her she left below:
The rest (so smooth, so suddenly she went)
Looked like Translation, through the Firmament;
Or like the fiery Carr, on the third Errand sent.
O happy Soul! if thou canst view from high
Where thou art all Intelligence, all Eye,
Apostrophe to her Soul.
If looking up to God, or down to us,
Thou find'st that any way be pervious,
Survey the ruines of thy House, and see
Thy widow'd, and thy Orphan Family;
Look on thy tender Pledges left behind;
And, if thou canst a vacant Minute find
From Heav'nly Joys, that Interval afford
To thy sad Children and thy mourning Lord.
See how they grieve, mistaken in their love,
And shed a beam of Comfort from above;
Give 'em, as much as mortal Eyes can bear,
A transient view of thy full glories there;
That they with mod'rate sorrow may sustain
And mollifie their Losses, in thy Gain.
Or else divide the grief, for such thou wert,
That should not all Relations bear a part,
It were enough to break a single heart.
Let this suffice: Nor thou, great Saint, refuse
Epiphonema: or close of the Poem.
This humble Tribute of no vulgar Muse:
Who, not by Cares, or Wants, or Age deprest,
Stems a wild Deluge with a dauntless brest:
And dares to sing thy Praises, in a Clime
Where Vice triumphs and Vertue is a Crime:
Where even to draw the Picture of thy Mind,
Is Satyr on the most of Humane Kind:
Take it, while yet 'tis Praise; before my rage
Unsafely just, break loose on this bad Age;
So bad, that thou thy self had'st no defence
From Vice, but barely by departing hence.
Be what, and where thou art: To wish thy place,
Were in the best, Presumption, more than grace.
Thy Reliques (such thy Works of Mercy are)
Have, in this Poem, been my holy care.
As Earth thy Body keeps, thy Soul the Sky,
So shall this Verse preserve thy Memory;
For thou shalt make it live, because it sings of thee.

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