A Collection of English Poems, 1660-1800

By Ronald S. Crane | Go to book overview

SIR JOHN DENHAM
(1615-1642-1669)

Cooper's Hill1

SURE there are Poets which did never dream
Upon Parnassus, nor did tast the stream
Of Helicon, we therefore may suppose
Those made no Poets, but the Poets those.

And as Courts make not Kings, but Kings the Court, 5
So where the Muses & their train resort,
Parnassus stands; if I can be to thee
A Poet, thou Parnassus are to me.

Nor wonder, if (advantag'd in my flight,

By taking wing from thy auspicious height) 10
Through untrac't ways, and aery paths I fly,
More boundless in my Fancy than my eie:

My eye, which swift as thought contracts the space
That lies between, and first salutes the place

Crown'd with that sacred pile, so vast, so high, 15
That whether 'tis a part of Earth, or sky,
Uncertain seems, and may be thought a proud
Aspiring mountain, or descending cloud,
Pauls, the late theme of such a Muse whose flight
Has bravely reach't and soar'd above thy height: 20

Now shalt thou stand though sword, or time, or fire, Or zeal more fierce than they, thy fall conspire,
Secure, whilst thee the best of Poets sings,
Preserv'd from ruine by the best of Kings.

Under his proud survey the City lies, 25
And like a mist beneath a hill doth rise;
Whose state and wealth the business and the crowd,
Seems at this distance but a darker cloud:
And is to him who rightly things esteems,
No other in effect than what it seems: 30
Where, with like hast, though several ways, they run
Some to undo, and some to be undone;
While luxury, and wealth, like war and peace,
Are each the others ruine, and increase;
As Rivers lost in Seas some secret vein 35
Thence reconveighs, there to be lost again.

Oh happiness of sweet retir'd content!

____________________
1
Published in 1642. Text of Poems and Translations, 1668.

-20-

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