To the Pious Memory of the Accomplished Young Lady Mrs. Anne Killigrew

Excellent In The Two Sister-Arts Of POËsy And Painting: An Ode

Original Text: 
John Dryden, Poetry, Prose, and Plays, ed. Douglas Grant (Reynard Library edition: Hart-Davis, 1952). PR 3412 G7 1952 ROBA. The base text is the second issue of the first edition of Anne Killigrew's Poems (1686): facs. edn., ed. R. E. Morton (Gainesville, Florida: Scholars, 1967). PR 3539 K3 1686A ROBA.
2      Made in the last promotion of the Blest;
3Whose palms, new pluck'd from Paradise,
4In spreading branches more sublimely rise,
5Rich with immortal green above the rest:
6Whether, adopted to some neighbouring star,
7Thou roll'st above us, in thy wand'ring race,
8      Or, in procession fix'd and regular,
9      Mov'd with the Heavens' majestic pace:
10      Or, call'd to more superior bliss,
11Thou tread'st, with seraphims, the vast abyss.
12What ever happy region is thy place,
13Cease thy celestial song a little space;
14(Thou wilt have time enough for hymns divine,
15      Since Heav'n's eternal year is thine.)
16Hear then a mortal Muse thy praise rehearse,
17                In no ignoble verse;
18But such as thy own voice did practise here,
19When thy first fruits of poesy were giv'n;
20To make thyself a welcome inmate there:
21           While yet a young probationer,
22           And Candidate of Heav'n.
23      If by traduction came thy mind,
24      Our wonder is the less to find
25A soul so charming from a stock so good;
26Thy father was transfus'd into thy blood:
27So wert thou born into the tuneful strain,
28(An early, rich, and inexhausted vein.)
29      But if thy preexisting soul
30      Was form'd, at first, with myriads more,
31It did through all the mighty poets roll,
32      Who Greek or Latin laurels wore,
33And was that Sappho last, which once it was before.
34      If so, then cease thy flight, O Heav'n-born mind!
35           Thou hast no dross to purge from thy rich ore:
36      Nor can thy soul a fairer mansion find,
37      Than was the beauteous frame she left behind:
38Return, to fill or mend the choir, of thy celestial kind.
39May we presume to say, that at thy birth,
40New joy was sprung in Heav'n as well as here on earth.
41For sure the milder planets did combine
42On thy auspicious horoscope to shine,
44           Thy brother-angels at thy birth
45           Strung each his lyre, and tun'd it high,
46           That all the people of the sky
47Might know a poetess was born on earth;
48           And then if ever, mortal ears
49           Had heard the music of the spheres!
50           And if no clust'ring swarm of bees
51      On thy sweet mouth distill'd their golden dew,
52           'Twas that, such vulgar miracles,
53           Heav'n had not leisure to renew:
54      For all the blest fraternity of love
55Solemniz'd there thy birth, and kept thy Holyday above.
56      O Gracious God! How far have we
57Profan'd thy Heav'nly gift of poesy?
58Made prostitute and profligate the Muse,
59Debas'd to each obscene and impious use,
60Whose harmony was first ordain'd above
61For tongues of angels, and for hymns of love?
62O wretched we! why were we hurried down
63      This lubrique and adult'rate age,
64      (Nay added fat pollutions of our own)
65      T'increase the steaming ordures of the stage?
66      What can we say t'excuse our Second Fall?
67      Let this thy vestal, Heav'n, atone for all!
68      Her Arethusian stream remains unsoil'd,
69      Unmix'd with foreign filth, and undefil'd,
70Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child!
71      Art she had none, yet wanted none:
72      For Nature did that want supply,
73      So rich in treasures of her own,
74      She might our boasted stores defy:
75Such noble vigour did her verse adorn,
76That it seem'd borrow'd, where 'twas only born.
77Her morals too were in her bosom bred
78      By great examples daily fed,
79What in the best of Books, her Father's Life, she read.
80      And to be read her self she need not fear,
81      Each test, and ev'ry light, her Muse will bear,
83      Ev'n love (for love sometimes her Muse express'd)
84Was but a lambent-flame which play'd about her breast:
85      Light as the vapours of a morning dream,
86So cold herself, whilst she such warmth express'd,
87      'Twas Cupid bathing in Diana's stream.
88Born to the spacious empire of the Nine,
89One would have thought, she should have been content
90To manage well that mighty government;
91But what can young ambitious souls confine?
92      To the next realm she stretch'd her sway,
93      For painture near adjoining lay,
94A plenteous province, and alluring prey.
95A chamber of dependences was fram'd,
96(As conquerors will never want pretence,
97      When arm'd, to justify th'offence)
98And the whole fief, in right of poetry she claim'd.
99      The country open lay without defence:
100   For poets frequent inroads there had made,
101        And perfectly could represent
102   The shape, the face, with ev'ry lineament:
103And all the large domains which the Dumb-sister sway'd,
104      All bow'd beneath her government,
105      Receiv'd in triumph wheresoe'er she went,
106Her pencil drew, what e'er her soul design'd,
107And oft the happy draught surpass'd the image in her mind.
108      The sylvan scenes of herds and flocks,
109      And fruitful plains and barren rocks,
110      Of shallow brooks that flow'd so clear,
111      The bottom did the top appear;
112      Of deeper too and ampler floods,
113      Which as in mirrors, show'd the woods;
114      Of lofty trees, with sacred shades,
115      And perspectives of pleasant glades,
116      Where nymphs of brightest form appear,
117      And shaggy satyrs standing near,
118      Which them at once admire and fear.
119      The ruins too of some majestic piece,
120      Boasting the pow'r of ancient Rome or Greece,
121      Whose statues, friezes, columns broken lie,
122      And tho' defac'd, the wonder of the eye,
123      What Nature, art, bold fiction e'er durst frame,
124      Her forming hand gave feature to the name.
125      So strange a concourse ne'er was seen before,
126But when the peopl'd Ark the whole creation bore.
127      The scene then chang'd, with bold erected look
128Our martial king the sight with reverence strook:
129For not content t'express his outward part,
130Her hand call'd out the image of his heart,
131His warlike mind, his soul devoid of fear,
132His high-designing thoughts, were figur'd there,
133As when, by magic, ghosts are made appear.
134      Our phoenix queen was portray'd too so bright,
135Beauty alone could beauty take so right:
136Her dress, her shape, her matchless grace,
137Were all observ'd, as well as heav'nly face.
138With such a peerless majesty she stands,
139As in that day she took the crown from sacred hands:
140Before a train of heroines was seen,
141In beauty foremost, as in rank, the queen!
142      Thus nothing to her genius was deny'd,
143But like a ball of fire the further thrown,
144           Still with a greater blaze she shone,
145And her bright soul broke out on ev'ry side.
146What next she had design'd, Heaven only knows,
147To such immod'rate growth her conquest rose,
148That fate alone its progress could oppose.
149Now all those charms, that blooming grace,
150The well-proportion'd shape, and beauteous face,
151Shall never more be seen by mortal eyes;
152In earth the much lamented virgin lies!
153      Not wit, not piety could fate prevent;
154      Nor was the cruel destiny content
155      To finish all the murder at a blow,
156      To sweep at once her life, and beauty too;
157But, like a harden'd felon, took a pride
158           To work more mischievously slow,
159           And plunder'd first, and then destroy'd.
160O double sacrilege on things divine,
161To rob the relique, and deface the shrine!
163Heav'n, by the same disease, did both translate,
164As equal were their souls, so equal was their fate.
165Meantime her warlike brother on the seas
166His waving streamers to the winds displays,
167And vows for his return, with vain devotion, pays.
168      Ah, generous youth, that wish forbear,
169      The winds too soon will waft thee here!
170      Slack all thy sails, and fear to come,
171Alas, thou know'st not, thou art wreck'd at home!
172No more shalt thou behold thy sister's face,
173Thou hast already had her last embrace.
174But look aloft, and if thou ken'st from far,
175Among the Pleiad's, a new-kindl'd star,
176If any sparkles, than the rest, more bright,
177'Tis she that shines in that propitious light.
178When in mid-air, the golden trump shall sound,
179      To raise the nations under ground;
180      When in the valley of Jehosophat,
181The Judging God shall close the book of fate;
182      And there the last Assizes keep,
183      For those who wake, and those who sleep;
184      When rattling bones together fly,
185      From the four corners of the sky,
186When sinews o'er the skeletons are spread,
187Those cloth'd with flesh, and life inspires the dead;
188The sacred poets first shall hear the sound,
189And foremost from the tomb shall bound:
190For they are cover'd with the lightest ground,
191And straight, with in-born vigour, on the wing,
192Like mounting larks, to the new morning sing.
193There thou, sweet saint, before the choir shall go,
194As harbinger of Heav'n, the way to show,
195The way which thou so well hast learn'd below.


1] Anne Killigrew (1660-1685), poetess and painter, was the daughter of the minor dramatist Henry Killigrew (1613-1700). Dryden's memorial ode first appeared in her 1686 volume of poems. Stanza ii refers to two theories of the manner in which the individual human soul originates to be joined at conception to the individual body: the first, "traduction," that it derives from the soul of the father; the second, that it exists independently, to be added to the body (and possibly to a succession of bodies). Back to Line
43] Planets when "in trine" exercise the least influence. Stanza iv alludes to the licentiousness of the Restoration stage which was to call forth the famous attack by Jeremy Collier (1650-1726), A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage (1698), in which Dryden, as well as the other writers, was criticized. Back to Line
82] Epictetus, the Stoic moral philosopher. Back to Line
162] Orinda was the name assumed by the poetess Katherine Philips (1631-1684), who, like Anne Killigrew, died of the smallpox. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
G. G. Falle
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.43-48.