Of the Last Verses in the Book

By Edmund Waller 1606–1687 Edmund Waller
When we for age could neither read nor write,
The subject made us able to indite.
The soul, with nobler resolutions deckt,
The body stooping, does herself erect:
No mortal parts are requisite to raise
Her, that unbodied can her Maker praise.

The seas are quiet, when the winds give o’er,
So calm are we, when passions are no more:
For then we know how vain it was to boast
Of fleeting things, so certain to be lost.
Clouds of affection from our younger eyes
Conceal that emptiness, which age descries.

The soul’s dark cottage, batter’d and decay’d,
Lets in new light through chinks that time has made;
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become
As they draw near to their eternal home:
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view,
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

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Poet Edmund Waller 1606–1687

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Living, Reading & Books, Arts & Sciences, Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Youth

Poetic Terms Couplet

 Edmund  Waller

Biography

Elected to Parliament at age 16, Edmund Waller quickly gained a reputation as a masterful orator. He was also a celebrated lyric poet long before the publication of his Poems in 1645. Despite his eloquent efforts to placate both Oliver Cromwell and Charles II, Waller was forced into exile for nearly a decade. His highly refined work, particularly his heroic couplets, were much admired by Alexander Pope and John Dryden.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Reading & Books, Arts & Sciences, Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Youth

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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