Annus Mirabilis, The Year Of Wonders, 1666

1
In thriving arts long time had Holland grown,
Crouching at home and cruel when abroad:
Scarce leaving us the means to claim our own;
Our King they courted, and our merchants awed.

2
Trade, which, like blood, should circularly flow,
Stopp'd in their channels, found its freedom lost:
Thither the wealth of all the world did go,
And seem'd but shipwreck'd on so base a coast.

3
For them alone the heavens had kindly heat;
In eastern quarries ripening precious dew:
For them the Idumaean balm did sweat,
And in hot Ceylon spicy forests grew.

4
The sun but seem'd the labourer of the year;
Each waxing moon supplied her watery store,
To swell those tides, which from the line did bear
Their brimful vessels to the Belgian shore.

5
Thus mighty in her ships, stood Carthage long,
And swept the riches of the world from far;
Yet stoop'd to Rome, less wealthy, but more strong:
And this may prove our second Punic war.

6
What peace can be, where both to one pretend?
(But they more diligent, and we more strong)
Or if a peace, it soon must have an end;
For they would grow too powerful, were it long.

7
Behold two nations, then, engaged so far
That each seven years the fit must shake each land:
Where France will side to weaken us by war,
Who only can his vast designs withstand.

8
See how he feeds the Iberian with delays,
To render us his timely friendship vain:
And while his secret soul on Flanders preys,
He rocks the cradle of the babe of Spain.

9
Such deep designs of empire does he lay
O'er them, whose cause he seems to take in hand;
And prudently would make them lords at sea,
To whom with ease he can give laws by land.

10
This saw our King; and long within his breast
His pensive counsels balanced to and fro:
He grieved the land he freed should be oppress'd,
And he less for it than usurpers do.

11
His generous mind the fair ideas drew
Of fame and honour, which in dangers lay;
Where wealth, like fruit on precipices, grew,
Not to be gather'd but by birds of prey.

12
The loss and gain each fatally were great;
And still his subjects call'd aloud for war;
But peaceful kings, o'er martial people set,
Each, other's poise and counterbalance are.

13
He first survey'd the charge with careful eyes,
Which none but mighty monarchs could maintain;
Yet judged, like vapours that from limbecks rise,
It would in richer showers descend again.

14
At length resolved to assert the watery ball,
He in himself did whole Armadoes bring:
Him aged seamen might their master call,
And choose for general, were he not their king.

15
It seems as every ship their sovereign knows,
His awful summons they so soon obey;
So hear the scaly herd when Proteus blows,
And so to pasture follow through the sea.

16
To see this fleet upon the ocean move,
Angels drew wide the curtains of the skies;
And heaven, as if there wanted lights above,
For tapers made two glaring comets rise.

17
Whether they unctuous exhalations are,
Fired by the sun, or seeming so alone:
Or each some more remote and slippery star,
Which loses footing when to mortals shown.

18
Or one, that bright companion of the sun,
Whose glorious aspect seal'd our new-born king;
And now a round of greater years begun,
New influence from his walks of light did bring.

19
Victorious York did first with famed success,
To his known valour make the Dutch give place:
Thus Heaven our monarch's fortune did confess,
Beginning conquest from his royal race.

20
But since it was decreed, auspicious King,
In Britain's right that thou shouldst wed the main,
Heaven, as a gage, would cast some precious thing,
And therefore doom'd that Lawson should be slain.

21
Lawson amongst the foremost met his fate,
Whom sea-green Sirens from the rocks lament;
Thus as an offering for the Grecian state,
He first was kill'd who first to battle went.

22
Their chief blown up in air, not waves, expired,
To which his pride presumed to give the law:
The Dutch confess'd Heaven present, and retired,
And all was Britain the wide ocean saw.

23
To nearest ports their shatter'd ships repair,
Where by our dreadful cannon they lay awed:
So reverently men quit the open air,
When thunder speaks the angry gods abroad.

24
And now approach'd their fleet from India, fraught
With all the riches of the rising sun:
And precious sand f
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John Dryden

John Dryden was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was made Poet Laureate in 1668. more…

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"Annus Mirabilis, The Year Of Wonders, 1666" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 7 Apr. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/22645/annus-mirabilis,-the-year-of-wonders,-1666>.

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