Windsor Forest

Original Text: 

First edition (London: B. Lintot, 1713) E-10 03802 Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

2At once the monarch's and the muses' seats,
3Invite my lays. Be present, sylvan maids!
4Unlock your springs, and open all your shades.
5Granville commands: your aid O muses bring!
7      The groves of Eden, vanish'd now so long,
9These, were my breast inspir'd with equal flame,
10Like them in beauty, should be like in fame.
11Here hills and vales, the woodland and the plain,
12Here earth and water seem to strive again,
14But as the world, harmoniously confus'd:
15Where order in variety we see,
16And where, though all things differ, all agree.
17Here waving groves a chequer'd scene display,
18And part admit and part exclude the day;
19As some coy nymph her lover's warm address
20Nor quite indulges, nor can quite repress.
21There, interspers'd in lawns and opening glades,
22Thin trees arise that shun each others' shades.
24There wrapt in clouds the blueish hills ascend:
25Ev'n the wild heath displays her purple dyes,
26And 'midst the desert fruitful fields arise,
27That crown'd with tufted trees and springing corn,
28Like verdant isles the sable waste adorn.
29Let India boast her plants, nor envy we
32And realms commanded which those trees adorn.
33Not proud Olympus yields a nobler sight,
34Though gods assembled grace his tow'ring height,
35Than what more humble mountains offer here,
36Where, in their blessings, all those gods appear.
40And nodding tempt the joyful reaper's hand,
41Rich industry sits smiling on the plains,
44A dreary desert and a gloomy waste,
46And kings more furious and severe than they:
47Who claim'd the skies, dispeopled air and floods,
48The lonely lords of empty wilds and woods.
49Cities laid waste, they storm'd the dens and caves
50(For wiser brutes were backward to be slaves)
51What could be free, when lawless beasts obey'd,
52And ev'n the elements a tyrant sway'd?
53In vain kind seasons swell'd the teeming grain,
54Soft show'rs distill'd, and suns grew warm in vain;
55The swain with tears to beasts his labour yields,
56And famish'd dies amid his ripen'd fields.
57No wonder savages or subjects slain
59Both doom'd alike for sportive tyrants bled,
60But subjects starv'd while savages were fed.
62A mighty hunter, and his prey was man.
63Our haughty Norman boasts that barb'rous name,
64And makes his trembling slaves the royal game.
66From men their cities, and from gods their fanes:
67The levell'd towns with woods lie cover'd o'er,
68The hollow winds through naked temples roar;
69Round broken columns clasping ivy twin'd;
70O'er heaps of ruins stalk'd the stately hind;
71The fox obscene to gaping tombs retires,
72And wolves with howling fill the sacred choirs.
73Aw'd by his nobles, by his commons curs'd,
74Th' oppressor ruled tyrannic where he durst,
75Stretch'd o'er the poor, and Church, his iron rod,
76And treats alike his vassals and his God.
77Whom ev'n the the Saxon spar'd, and bloody Dane,
78The wanton victims of his sport remain.
79But see the man who spacious regions gave
82At once the chaser and at once the prey.
86Nor saw displeas'd the peaceful cottage rise.
87Then gath'ring flocks on unknown mountains fed,
88O'er sandy wilds were yellow harvests spread,
89The forests wonder'd at th' unusual grain,
90And secret transports touch'd the conscious swain.
91Fair Liberty, Britannia's goddess, rears
92Her cheerful head, and leads the golden years.
93      Ye vig'rous swains! while youth ferments your blood,
94And purer spirits swell the sprightly flood,
95Now range the hills, the thickest woods beset,
98And in the new-shorn field the partridge feeds,
99Before his lord the ready spaniel bounds,
100Panting with hope, he tries the furrow'd grounds,
101But when the tainted gales the game betray,
103Secure they trust th' unfaithful field, beset,
105Thus (if small things we may with great compare)
107Sudden, before some unsuspecting town,
108The young, the old, one instant makes our prize,
109And high in air Britannia's standard flies.
111And mounts exulting on triumphant wings;
112Short is his joy! he feels the fiery wound,
113Flutters in blood, and panting beats the ground.
114Ah! what avail his glossy, varying dyes,
115His purple crest, and scarlet-circled eyes,
116The vivid green his shining plumes unfold;
117His painted wings, and breast that flames with gold?
119The woods and fields their pleasing toils deny.
121And trace the mazes of the circling hare.
122(Beasts, taught by us, their fellow beasts pursue,
123And learn of man each other to undo.)
124With slaught'ring guns th' unweary'd fowler roves,
125When frosts have whiten'd all the naked groves;
126Where doves in flocks the leafless trees o'ershade,
127And lonely woodcocks haunt the wat'ry glade.
128He lifts the tube, and levels with his eye;
129Strait a short thunder breaks the frozen sky.
130Oft, as in airy rings they skim the heath,
131The clam'rous plovers feel the leaden death:
132Oft as the mounting larks their notes prepare,
133They fall, and leave their little lives in air.
134      In genial spring, beneath the quiv'ring shade
135Where cooling vapours breathe along the mead,
136The patient fisher takes his silent stand
139And eyes the dancing cork and bending reed.
140Our plenteous streams a various race supply;
143The yellow carp, in scales bedropp'd with gold,
144Swift trouts, diversify'd with crimson stains,
145And pikes, the tyrants of the wat'ry plains.
147The youth rush eager to the sylvan war;
148Swarm o'er the lawns, the forest walks surround,
149Rouse the fleet hart, and cheat the opening hound.
151And pawing, seems to beat the distant plain,
152Hills, vales, and floods appear already cross'd,
153And ere he starts, a thousant steps are lost.
154See! the bold youth strain up the threat'ning steep,
155Rush through the thickets, down the valleys sweep,
156Hang o'er their coursers' heads with eager speed,
157And earth rolls back beneath the flying steed.
160Nor envy Windsor! since thy shades have seen
162Whose care, like hers, protects the sylvan reign,
164      Here, as old bards have sung, Diana stray'd,
165Bath'd in the springs, or sought the cooling shade;
166Here arm'd with silver bows, in early dawn,
167Her buskin'd virgins trac'd the dewy lawn.
168Above the rest a rural nymph was fam'd,
169Thy offspring, Thames! the fair Lodona nam'd,
170(Lodona's fate, in long oblivion cast,
171The muse shall sing, and what she sings shall last)
172Scarce could the goddess from her nymph be known,
174She scorn'd the praise of beauty, and the care;
176A painted quiver on on her shoulder sounds,
177And with her dart the flying deer she wounds.
178It chanc'd, as eager of the the chase the maid
179Beyond the forest's verdant limits stray'd,
181Pursu'd her flight; her flight increas'd his fire.
182Not half so swift the trembling doves can fly,
184Not half so swiftly the fierce eagle moves,
185When through the clouds he drives the trembling doves;
186As from the god with fearful speed she flew,
187As did the god with equal speed pursue.
188Now fainting, sinking, pale, the nymph appears;
189Now close behind his sounding steps she hears;
190And now his shadow reach'd her as she run,
191(His shadow lengthen'd by the setting sun)
192And now his shorter breath with sultry air
193Pants on her neck, and fans her parting hair.
194In vain on Father Thames she calls for aid,
195Nor could Diana help her injur'd maid.
196Faint, breathless, thus she pray'd, nor pray'd in vain;
198Let me, O let me, to the shades repair,
199My native shades----there weep, and murmur there."
200She said, and melting as in tears she lay,
201In a soft, silver stream dissolv'd away.
202The silver stream her virgin coldness keeps,
203For ever murmurs, and for ever weeps;
205And bathes the forest where she rang'd before.
206In her chaste current oft the goddess laves,
207And with celestial tears augments the waves.
208Oft in her glass the musing shepherd spies
210The wat'ry landscape of the pendant woods,
211And absent trees that tremble in the floods;
212In the clear azure gleam the flocks are seen,
213And floating forests paint the waves with green.
214Through the fair scene roll slow the ling'ring streams,
215Then foaming pour along, and rush into the Thames.
217With joyful pride survey'st our lofty woods,
218Where tow'ring oaks their spreading honours rear,
220No seas so rich, so full no streams appear,
221No lake so gentle, and no spring so clear.
223While through the skies his shining current strays,
224Than thine, which visits Windsor's fam'd abodes,
226Nor all his stars a brighter lustre show,
227Than the fair nymphs that gild thy shore below:
228Here Jove himself, subdu'd by beauty still,
229Might change Olympus for a nobler hill.
231His sov'reign favours, and his country loves;
233Whom Nature charms, and whom the muse inspires,
234Whom humbler joys of home-felt quiet please,
236He gathers health from herbs the forest yields,
241O'er figur'd worlds now travels with his eye.
242Of ancient writ unlocks the learned store,
244Or wand'ring thoughtful in the silent wood,
245Attends the duties of the wise and good,
246T' observe a mean, be to himself a friend,
247To follow nature, and regard his end.
248Or looks on heav'n with more than mortal eyes,
249Bids his free soul expatiate in the skies,
250Amidst her kindred stars familiar roam,
251Survey the region, and confess her home!
254      Ye sacred nine! that all my soul possess,
255Whose raptures fire me, and whose visions bless,
256Bear me, oh bear me to sequester'd scenes
257Of bow'ry mazes and surrounding greens;
258To Thames's banks which fragrant breezes fill,
261O early lost! what tears the river shed
262When the sad pomp along his banks was led?
263His drooping swans on ev'ry note expire,
264And on his willows hung each muse's lyre.
265      Since Fate relentless stopp'd their heav'nly voice,
266No more the forests ring, or groves rejoice;
267Who now shall charm the shades where Cowley strung
268His living Harp, and lofty Denham sung?
269But hark! the groves rejoice, the forest rings!
271      'Tis yours, my Lord, to bless our soft retreats,
272And call the muses to their ancient seats,
273To paint anew the flow'ry sylvan scenes,
274To crown the forests with immortal greens,
275Make Windsor hills in lofty numbers rise,
276And lift her turrets nearer to the skies;
277To sing those honours you deserve to wear,
280Surrey, the Granville of a former age:
281Matchless his pen, victorious was his lance;
282Bold in the lists, and graceful in the dance:
283In the same shades the cupids tun'd his lyre,
284To the same notes, of love, and soft desire:
287      O would' st thou sing what heroes Windsor bore,
288What kings first breath' d upon her winding shore,
289Or raise old warriors whose ador'd remains
290In weeping vaults her hallow'd earth contains!
292Stretch his long triumphs down through ev' ry age,
293Draw kings enchain' d; and Cressi's glorious field,
296And leave inanimate the naked wall;
297Still in thy song should vanquish' d France appear,
298And bleed for ever under Britain's spear.
300And palms eternal flourish round his urn.
301Here o'er the martyr-king the marble weeps,
305The grave unites; where ev'n the great find rest,
306And blended lie th' oppressor and th' oppress'd!
308(Obscure the place, and uninscrib'd the stone)
309Oh Fact accurst! What tears has Albion shed,
310Heav'ns! what new wounds, and how her old have bled?
314Inglorious triumphs, and dishonest scars.
315At length great Anna said--Let discord cease!
316She said, the world obey'd, and all was Peace!
317      In that blest moment, from his oozy bed
319His tresses dropp'd with dews, and o'er the stream
320His shining horns diffus'd a golden gleam:
321Grav'd on his urn appear'd the moon, that guides
323The figur'd streams in waves of silver roll'd,
326That swell with tributary urns his flood.
327First the fam'd authors of his ancient name,
328The winding Isis, and the fruitful Tame:
329The Kennet swift, for silver eels renown'd;
330The Loddon slow, with verdant alders crown'd:
331Cole, whose clear streams his flow'ry islands lave;
332And chalky Wey, that rolls a milky wave:
334The gulphy Lee his sedgy tresses rears:
337      High in the midst, upon his urn reclin'd,
338(His sea-green mantle waving with the wind)
339The god appear'd; he turn'd his azure eyes
340Where Windsor-domes and pompous turrets rise,
341Then bow'd and spoke; the winds forgot to roar,
342And the hush'd waves glide softly to the shore.
343       "Hail sacred Peace! hail long-expected days,
344Which Thames's glory to the stars shall raise!
348And harvests on a hundred realms bestows;
349These now no more shall be the muse's themes,
350Lost in my fame, as in the sea their streams.
354Be mine the blessings of a peaceful reign.
355No more my sons shall dye with British blood
357Safe on my shore each unmolested swain
358Shall tend the flocks, or reap the bearded grain;
359The shady empire shall retain no trace
360Of war or blood, but in the sylvan chase.
361The trumpets sleep, while cheerful horns are blown,
362And arms employ'd on birds and beasts alone.
363Behold! th' ascending villas on my side
364Project long shadows o'er the crystal tide.
366And temples rise, the beauteous works of peace.
367I see, I see where two fair cities bend
369There mighty nations shall inquire their doom,
370The world's great oracle in times to come;
371There kings shall sue, and suppliant states be seen
374And half thy forest rush into my floods,
379Or under southern skies exalt their sails,
382The coral redden, and the ruby glow,
383The pearly shell its lucid globe infold,
385The time shall come, when free as seas or wind
386Unbounded Thames shall flow for all mankind,
387Whole nations enter with each swelling tide,
388And oceans join whom they did first divide;
389Earth's distant ends our glory shall behold,
390And the new world launch forth to seek the old.
391Then ships of uncouth form shall stem the tide,
392And feather'd people crowd my wealthy side,
394Our speech, our colour, and our strange attire!
395Oh stretch thy reign, fair Peace! from shore to shore,
396Till conquest cease, and slav'ry be no more:
397Till the freed Indians in their native groves
398Reap their own fruits, and woo their sable loves.
400And other Mexicos be roof'd with gold.
401Exil'd by thee from earth to deepest hell,
402In brazen bonds shall barb'rous Discord dwell:
403Gigantic Pride, pale Terror, gloomy Care,
404And mad Ambition, shall attend her there.
405There purple Vengeance bath'd in gore retires,
406Her weapons blunted, and extinct her fires:
407There hateful Envy her own snakes shall feel,
409There Faction roars, Rebellion bites her chain,
410And gasping Furies thirst for blood in vain."
411      Here cease thy flight, nor with unhallow'd lays
412Touch the fair fame of Albion's golden days.
413The thoughts of gods let Granville's verse recite,
414And bring the scenes of opening fate to light.
415My humble muse, in unambitious strains,
416Paints the green forests and the flow'ry plains,
417Where peace descending bids her olives spring,
418And scatters blessings from her dove-like wing.
419Ev'n I more sweetly pass my careless days
420Pleas'd in the silent shade with empty praise;
421Enough for me, that to the list'ning swains
422First in these fields I sung the sylvan strains.

Notes

1] Published on March 7, 1713, about a month before the signing at Utrecht of the long-awaited peace treaty to end the War of the Spanish Succession. This text follows the first edition; Pope made some minor changes in later editions. The standard modern edition of Pope's poetry is the Twickenham Edition; this poem appears in Volume I, Pastoral Poetry and An Essay on Criticism, ed. E. Audra and A. Williams (London and New Haven, 1961), with full annotation of Pope's literary allusions, classical and modern. Back to Line
6] Granville: George Granville (1666-1735), member of an important family in Cornwall of Jacobite sympathies, established himself as a successful poet and playwright in the 1690s; he entered Parliament in 1702 and served as Secretary of War in Robert Harley's administration from 1710 t0 1712. He was created Baron Lansdowne in January 1712, one of twelve men so promoted to ensure a government majority to approve the pending peace treaty. He was also one of the older writers who discerned Pope's literary ability, and promoted his early career. Pope had already dedicated one of his pastorals to him. While Granville appears in this poem as a poet rather than a politician, the dedication of the poem to him had unmistakable political implications. refuse to sing: the title-page motto for the poem is taken from Virgil, Eclogue 6: 9-12, and begins "I do not sing unbidden;" that is, Granville had encouraged Pope to publish this poem. Back to Line
8] in song: in Milton's Paradise Lost. Back to Line
13] chaos-like: see Paradise Lost 2: 910-16. In Chaos the elements are at war with one another; in the orderly creation of God's earth, they complement each other in variety and harmony. Back to Line
23] russet: reddish brown. Pope echoes the rule of contemporary landscape painting: the colours shift from brown in the foreground to blue in the distance. Back to Line
30] weeping amber or the balmy tree: [the tree that] secretes amber or the tree that secretes balsam or balm. See below, l. 393. Back to Line
31] oaks: ships built of English oak. See lines 219-222 below. Back to Line
37] Pan: in classical mythology, the god of herdsmen, and country-dwellers generally; Pomona: Roman goddess of fruit trees. Back to Line
38] Flora; goddess of flowers and gardens. Back to Line
39] Ceres: goddess of grains and harvests. Back to Line
42] Stuart: Queen Anne (1702-1714) was the younger daughter by his first marriage of James Stuart, Duke of York, and subsequently King James VII of Scotland and James II of England (1685-1688). Back to Line
43] the land: England in ages past, especially during the reigns of the Norman conqueror, William I (1066-1087), and his son William II, known as William Rufus (1087-1100). Back to Line
45] savage laws: "The Forest Laws" (Pope's note); these forbade all hunting except by the king or those with a royal licence, and abridged the ordinary legal rights of those living within forest areas. Back to Line
58] equal crimes: killing wild beasts ("savages") was a capital offence, treated as seriously as murder. Back to Line
61] Nimrod: the prototypical "mighty hunter;" see Genesis 10: 8-9. Back to Line
65] fields: "Alluding to the New Forest, and the tyrannies exercis'd there by William the First" (Pope's note). William I set aside a large area in south-western England known as the New Forest for hunting, destroying thirty-six parishes in the process, or so tradition alleged. Back to Line
80] denied a grave: William I's burial at the Abbaye-aux-hommes in Caen, which he had founded, was delayed by the claim of the former owner of the land on which it stood that he had not been paid the agreed sum for its purchase. Back to Line
81] his second hope: "Richard, second son of William the Conqueror" (Pope's note). He was killed in a hunting accident in the New Forest sometime before 1075. Back to Line
83] Rufus: William I's third son, William, known as Rufus, succeeded to the English throne as William II on the death of his father in 1087. He was killed by an arrow shot by one of his own huntsmen while hunting in the New Forest in 1100. These deaths were regarded by early chroniclers as divine punishment for William I's laying waste villages to create the New Forest. Back to Line
84] hart: a mature male deer. Back to Line
85] Succeeding monarchs: under William III, the commons rights of people living in the New Forest (to graze animals, gather firewood, etc.) were confirmed by statute in 1698. Back to Line
96] wind: blow. the waving net: to catch birds. Back to Line
97] autumn: the partridge-hunting season begins on September 1. Back to Line
102] Couch'd: lying down. meditates: observes intently. Back to Line
104] the swelling net: the hunter secured one corner of the net, then walked very slowly around the covey of birds immobilized by terror of the watching dog, until he could fling the net over them. When they tried to fly up, they became entangled in the net and could easily be captured. Back to Line
110] brake: clump of bushes. Back to Line
118] moist Arcturus: Arcturus, in the constellation Boötes, visible in the northern hemisphere in spring, was supposed to portend stormy weather. Back to Line
120] well-breath'd: well trained, not short of wind. Back to Line
137] angle: his fishing-rod ( "the bending reed") and line. Back to Line
138] hopes the scaly breed: hopes (to catch) some fish. Back to Line
141] Tyrian dye: purple and crimson dyes were associated with the ancient city of Tyre; see 2 Chronicles 2: 14. Back to Line
142] volumes: coils. Back to Line
146] Cancer: the astrological sign; i.e., late June and much of July. car: the chariot in which the sun-god (Phoebus) was supposed to ride through the heavens. Back to Line
150] courser: a swift horse used in hunting. Back to Line
158] Arcadia: a district of ancient Greece, traditionally a place of shepherds and rural peace. Back to Line
159] huntress: in classical mythology, the goddess Diana, who rejected marriage and devoted herself instead to hunting, attended by 80 virgin nymphs. Back to Line
161] a Queen: Queen Anne, who enjoyed stag-hunting in a specially built coach. Back to Line
163] light: Diana was goddess of the moon. main: the ocean. Back to Line
173] crescent: Diana wore a crescent on her head, signifying the moon, and a golden belt ("zone") around her waist. "She" in the next line is Lodona. Back to Line
175] fillet: simple headband. Back to Line
180] Pan: in classical mythology, the god of shepherds and huntsmen, associated particularly with Arcadia in Greece. He had two horns on his head, and the legs and tail of a goat; he was notorious for his lust. In the story of Lodona's flight and transformation into a river Pope imitates Ovid's Metamorphoses. Back to Line
183] liquid: clear, bright. Back to Line
197] Cynthia: one of the names of Diana, who was born on mount Cynthus. Back to Line
204] the name: "The river Loddon" (Pope's note). The Loddon is a tributary of the Thames. Back to Line
209] headlong: the mirror-like surface of the Loddon's water ("her glass") reflects the world upside down, reversing the normal position of mountain-tops and the sky; the woods appear to hang, the landscape is watery, distant ("absent") trees appear to be close by; the whole world appears topsy-turvy.. Back to Line
216] father: the river Thames. Back to Line
222] Po: river of north Italy, which rises high in the Alps ("the skies") and flows into the Adriatic; celebrated by Roman poets such as Virgil, who calls it "king of rivers" (Georgics, 1: 482). Back to Line
225] mansion: Windsor Castle. Back to Line
230] the man: Granville, the dedicatee of the poem, whose recent elevation to the peerage was a mark of the soverign's favour. Back to Line
232] Happy next him who: the next degree of happiness is that of the man who retires to these shades [not a specific person, anyone]. Back to Line
235] Successive: i.e., study, physical exercise and relaxation in succession. Back to Line
237] Physic: medicine. spoils: despoils, ransacks. Back to Line
238] chymic: probably more "alchemical" than "chemical." Back to Line
239] draws . . . flowers: extracts from flowers the fragrances which are their animating principle. Back to Line
240] Now marks: in this line he is consulting an astrolabe; in the next a globe or atlas. Back to Line
243] Consults the dead: by studying their writings. Back to Line
252] Scipio: Publius Aemilianus, known as Scipio Africanus the younger (died 128 BCE), who after an oustanding military and political career passed his later years in retirement with his friend Laelius. Back to Line
253] Atticus: Titus Pomponius (died 32 BCE), friend and correspondent of Cicero, known as Atticus because he retired to Athens to study the arts and culture of Greece. Trumbull: Sir William Trumbull (1639-1716), who had retired in 1697 after a distinguished career in law and diplomacy; he was an important early mentor of Pope's, and had encouraged Pope to write a poem about Windsor Forest, in which he held the office of verderer. Back to Line
260] Cowley: "Mr. Cowley died at Chertsey on the borders of the the Forest, and was from thence convey'd to Westminster" (Pope's note). Abraham Cowley (1618-1667), the most celebrated English poet of the mid-seventeenth century, spent the last years of his life at Chertsey, a few miles downriver of Windsor. After his death on 28 July 1667, his remains were conveyed to London for burial beside Chaucer and Spenser in Westminster Abbey. Back to Line
270] Granville: see note to line 6. Granville had in effect abandoned poetry in favour of politics a decade earlier, but Pope addresses him as a poet. Back to Line
278] star: the star of the Order of the Garter, established at Windsor Castle by Edward III; Granville had praised the Order in his poem "The Progress of Beauty," hence "new lustre." Back to Line
279] Surrey: "Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, one of the first refiners of the English poetry; famous in the time of Henry VIIIth for his sonnets, the scene of many of which is laid at Windsor" (Pope's note). Surrey (1516/17-1547) was a soldier as well as courtier and poet; he was a member of the Order of the Garter and had at one point been a prisoner at Windsor for several months. Back to Line
285] Geraldine: the poetical name given by Surrey to a daughter of the Earl of Kildare celebrated in his sonnet, " From Tuscan came my lady's worthy race," which was probably written during his period of imprisonment at Windsor in 1537. Back to Line
286] Myra: the poetical name of the addressee of the many of Granville's shorter poems; her real identity is uncertain. Back to Line
291] Edward: "Edward III born here" (Pope's note). Edward III, born at Windsor in 1312, reigned from 1327 until his death fifty years later. His successes in war led to the capture of both David II of Scotland and Jean II of France; his greatest victory was at Crécy ("Cressi") in 1346; two years later he founded the Order of the Garter, which was formally instituted in St. George's Chapel of Windsor Castle in 1349. Back to Line
294] lilies: the lilies of France, which Edward III claimed as his, thus initiating the Hundred Years War with France. The lilies of France figured in the royal arms of Eglish sovereigns until George III dropped the claim in 1800. Back to Line
295] Verrio: Antonio Verrio (,i>c.1639-1707), Italian painter who worked in England for most of his life. He painted many walls and ceilings at Windsor Castle with heroic historical and mythological paintings glorifying the English monarchy, 1675-1684. Back to Line
299] Henry: "Henry VI" (Pope's note). Henry succeeded his father, Henry V, in 1422, when he was nine months old; he assumed power in 1437, but he was more notable for piety and interest in education than the skills required to rule fifteenth-century England. He was deposed by his cousin, Edward of York, in 1461, and briefly restored to the throne in 1470-71, before his final deposition and death in May 1471. He was revered as a martyr, and proceedings for his canonization were in progress when Henry VIII broke with Rome in the 1530s. Back to Line
302] Edward: "Edward IV" (Pope's note). Having deposed his cousin Henry VI, Edward ruled England from 1461 to 1470, was forced into exile in 1470-71, and reigned a second time from 1471 until his death in 1483. He was a notably competent monarch, both militarily and politically. Like Henry VI, he lies buried in St. George's Chapel at Windsor. Back to Line
303] extended Albion: the full extent of England. Pope has in mind Edward's brief but financially profitable war with France in 1475, and his intervention in Scotland in 1482. Back to Line
304] Belerium: Land's End, the extreme south-west point of England. German main: the North Sea, i.e., the east coast of England. Back to Line
307] sacred Charles's tomb: after the execution of Charles I in January 1649 his body was buried in St. George's chapel at Windsor, in part because the chapel was not open to the public and so his burial-place could not become a focus of opposition to the Commonwealth regime. After the Restoration in 1660 he became "sacred" because he was included as king and martyr in the calendar of the Church of England, with special observances on the anniversary of his execution. Back to Line
311] purple deaths: from the Great Plague of 1665, which caused purple swellings of the flesh. Back to Line
312] sacred domes: "domes" are stately buildings; the Great Fire of London of 1666 destroyed many churches, including St. Paul's Cathedral. Back to Line
313] intestine wars: most obviously the civil wars of the 1640s, but the placement in what appears as a chronological series suggests that Pope is referring to the "glorious revolution" of 1689 (to the Roman Catholic Pope not a very glorious affair) and the war in Ireland which followed it. Back to Line
318] Old Father Thames: here depicted as a river god in the manner of classical mythology, with horns like Michaelangelo's Moses, and the urn from which the waters of the Thames flow. Back to Line
322] tides: engineers have reduced the reach of the tides in the Thames: in Pope's time it was tidal as far up as Staines. Back to Line
324] Augusta: London, which the Romans called Augusta Trinobantia. Back to Line
325] sea-born: in classical mythology, rivers were the offspring of Oceanus and Tethys, god and goddess of all great waters. Back to Line
333] Vandalis: a latinization of the river Wandal or Wandle. Back to Line
335] Mole: the river Mole flows underground for part of its course. Back to Line
336] Danish blood: a reference to the battle of Otford, fought in 776 between the Mercians and the Jutes. Back to Line
345] Tiber: the river (modern Tevere) on which the city of Rome stands. Back to Line
346] Hermus: a river of Asia Minor, anciently believed to have sands of gold. Back to Line
347] sev'nfold: in ancient times the Nile flowed through its delta into the Mediterranean Sea through seven channels. Back to Line
351] Volga: the great river of Russia; alluding to the Great Northern War between Russia and Sweden, the first stage of which had ended with the defeat of Charles XII of Sweden at Poltava in 1709. Back to Line
352] Rhine: alluding to the many battles fought in Flanders in the recent war with France. Back to Line
353] Ganges: alluding to the twenty years of warfare against the Maratha confederacy waged by Aurangzeb (1658-1707), sixth Mughal emperor of India, who died in the field at the age of 90. Back to Line
356] Iber: Roman name for the river Ebro, in Spain, where several British forces had campaigned with mixed success in the recent war. Ister: an ancient name for the Danube river, scene of Marlborough's victory at Blenheim in 1704. Back to Line
365] spires increase: a reference to the 1711 act for the building of fifty new churches in London. Back to Line
368] Whitehall: all of the rambling Whitehall Palace but the Banqueting House had burned down in 1698; a project to rebuild finally came to nothing. The two cities are London and Westminster, which meet approximately at the bend in the river Thames where Whitehall stands. Back to Line
372] Once more: as they had before Elizabeth a century and more earlier; she had twice been offered the throne of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Back to Line
373] trees: see above, lines 217-219. Back to Line
375] cross: the red cross of St. George on the Union Jack flown by ships of the Royal Navy since the union of crowns of Scotland and England in 1603. Back to Line
376] Pope deleted two lines at this point; they appear in a letter to his friend John Caryll [29 November 1712]: "Or those green isles, where headlong Titan steeps/His hissing chariot in th' Atlantic deeps," thus removing both a classical allusion and one point of the compass. Back to Line
377] tempt: venture upon. Back to Line
378] clearer flames: the Aurora Borealis. Back to Line
380] new: because not visible in the northern hemisphere. Back to Line
381] balm: see above, l. 30. Back to Line
384] Phoebus: the sun, in reference to the ancient belief that gems and precious metals are formed by the heat of the sun beating upon the earth. Back to Line
393] painted chiefs: the four "Indian kings," representatives of the Iroquois Confederacy, whose visit to London in 1710 attracted enormous attention. Back to Line
399] Peru: in Pope's day, all the Spanish possessions west of Brazil in South America. Back to Line
408] broken wheel: St. Catherine of Alexandria, an early Christian martyr, was sentenced to be broken on the wheel, i.e., tied spreadeagled to a cartwheel and have her limbs broken one by one; when she touched the wheel it broke. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1713
RPO poem Editors: 
John D. Baird
Rhyme: 
Special Copyright: 

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