To Mr. Henry Lawes, Who Had Then Newly Set a Song of Mine

by Edmund Waller

Edmund Waller

Verse makes heroic virtue live;
But you can life to verses give.
As, when in open air we blow,
The breath, though strained, sounds flat and low;
But if a trumpet take the blast,
It lifts it high, and makes it last:
So in your airs and our numbers dressed,
Make a shrill sally from the breast
Of nymphs, who, singing what we penned,
Our passions to themselves commend;
While love, victorious with thy art,
Governs at once their voice and heart.
You, by the help of tune and time,
Can make that song which was but rhyme.
Noy pleading, no man doubts the cause;
Or questions verses set by Lawes.
As a Church window, thick with paint,
Lets in a light but dim and faint,
So others, with division, hide
The light of sense, the poet's pride;
But you alone may truly boast
That not a syllable is lost:
The writer's and the setter's skill
At once the ravished ears do fill.
Let those which only warble long,
And gargle in their throats a song,
Content themselves with ut, re, mi:
Let words, and sense, be set by thee.

Last updated January 14, 2019