To Her Royal Highness The Duchess,

A poem by John Dryden

On The Memorable Victory Gained By The Duke Over The Hollanders, June 3, 1665. And On Her Journey Afterwards Into The North.

Madam,
When, for our sakes, your hero you resign'd
To swelling seas, and every faithless wind;
When you released his courage, and set free
A valour fatal to the enemy;
You lodged your country's cares within your breast
(The mansion where soft love should only rest):
And, ere our foes abroad were overcome,
The noblest conquest you had gain'd at home.
Ah, what concerns did both your souls divide!
Your honour gave us what your love denied:
And 'twas for him much easier to subdue
Those foes he fought with, than to part from you.
That glorious day, which two such navies saw,
As each unmatch'd might to the world give law.
Neptune, yet doubtful whom he should obey,
Held to them both the trident of the sea:
The winds were hush'd, the waves in ranks were cast,
As awfully as when God's people pass'd;
Those, yet uncertain on whose sails to blow,
These, where the wealth of nations ought to flow.
Then with the duke your highness ruled the day:
While all the brave did his command obey,
The fair and pious under you did pray.
How powerful are chaste vows! the wind and tide
You bribed to combat on the English, side.
Thus to your much-loved lord you did convey
An unknown succour, sent the nearest way.
New vigour to his wearied arms you brought
(So Moses was upheld while Israel fought),
While, from afar, we heard the cannon play,[2]
Like distant thunder on a shiny day.
For absent friends we were ashamed to fear
When we consider'd what you ventured there.
Ships, men, and arms, our country might restore,
But such a leader could supply no more.
With generous thoughts of conquest he did burn,
Yet fought not more to vanquish than return.
Fortune and victory he did pursue,
To bring them as his slaves to wait on you.
Thus beauty ravish'd the rewards of fame,
And the fair triumph'd when the brave o'ercame.
Then, as you meant to spread another way
By land your conquests, far as his by sea,
Leaving our southern clime you march'd along
The stubborn North, ten thousand Cupids strong.
Like commons the nobility resort
In crowding heaps, to fill your moving court:
To welcome your approach the vulgar run,
Like some new envoy from the distant sun;
And country beauties by their lovers go,
Blessing themselves, and wondering at the show.
So when the new-born Phoenix first is seen,
Her feather'd subjects all adore their queen;
And while she makes her progress through the east,
From every grove her numerous train's increased;
Each poet of the air her glory sings,
And round him the pleased audience clap their wings.

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