A Celebration of Women Writers

"To the Pious Memory of the Accomplisht Young Lady Mrs Anne Killigrew." by John Dryden.
From Killigrew, Anne. Poems 1686. Facs. edn., ed. R. E. Morton. Gainesville, Florida: Scholars, 1967.

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To the Pious Memory

Of the Accomplisht Young LADY

Mrs Anne Killigrew,

Excellent in the two Sister-Arts of Poësie, and Painting.



THou Youngest Virgin-Daughter of the Skies,
Made in the last Promotion of the Blest;
    Whose Palmes, new pluckt from Paradise,
In spreading Branches more sublimely rise,
Rich with Immortal Green above the rest:
Whether, adopted to some Neighbouring Star,
Thou rol'st above us, in thy wand'ring Race,
  Or, in Procession fixt and regular,
  Mov'd with the Heavens Majestick Pace;
  Or, call'd to more Superiour Bliss,
Thou tread'st, with Seraphims, the vast Abyss.

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What ever happy Region be thy place,
Cease thy Celestial Song a little space;
(Thou wilt have Time enough for Hymns Divine,
  Since Heav'ns Eternal Year is thine.)
Hear then a Mortal Muse thy Praise rehearse,
     In no ignoble Verse;
But such as thy own voice did practise here,
When thy first Fruits of Poesie were giv'n;
To make thy self a welcome Inmate there:
    While yet a young Probationer,
      And Candidate of Heav'n.


  If by Traduction came thy Mind,
  Our Wonder is the less to find
A Soul so charming from a Stock so good;
Thy Father was transfus'd into thy Blood:
So wert thou born into the tuneful strain,
(An early, rich, and inexhausted Vain.)
    But if thy Præexisting Soul
    Was form'd, at first, with Myriads more,
It did through all the Mighty Poets roul,

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    Who Greek or Latine Laurels wore.
And was that Sappho last, which once it was before.
    If so, then cease thy flight, O Heav'n-born Mind!
    Thou hast no Dross to purge from thy Rich Ore
    Nor can thy Soul a fairer Mansion find,
    Than was the Beauteous Frame she left behind:
Return, to fill or mend the Quire, of thy Celestial kind.


    May we presume to say, that at thy Birth,
New joy was sprung in Heav'n, as well as here on Earth.
    For sure the Milder Planets did combine
    On thy Auspicious Horoscope to shine,
    And ev'n the most Malicious were in Trine.
     Thy Brother-Angels at thy Birth
     Strung each his Lyre, and tun'd it high,
     That all the People of the Skie
    Might know a Poetess was born on Earth.
       And then if ever, Mortal Ears
       Had heard the Musick of the Spheres!
       And if no clust'ring Swarm of Bees
    On thy sweet Mouth distill'd their golden Dew,

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       'Twas that, such vulgar Miracles,
       Heav'n had not Leasure to renew:
    For all the Blest Fraternity of Love
Solemniz'd there thy Birth, and kept thy Holyday above.


     O Gracious God! How far have we
  Prophan'd thy Heav'nly Gift of Poesy?
  Made prostitute and profligate the Muse,
  Debas'd to each obscene and impious use,
  Whose Harmony was first ordain'd Above
  For Tongues of Angels, and for Hymns of Love?
  O wretched We! why were we hurry'd down
     This lubrique and adult'rate age,
     (Nay added fat Pollutions of our own)
     T'increase the steaming Ordures of the Stage?
    What can we say t'excuse our Second Fall?
    Let this thy Vestal, Heav'n, attone for all!
    Her Arethusian Stream remains unsoil'd,
    Unmixt with Forreign Filth, and undefil'd,
Her Wit was more than Man, her Innocence a Child!

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      Art she had none, yet wanted None.
      For Nature did that Want supply,
      So rich in Treasures of her Own,
      She might our boasted Stores defy:
  Such Noble Vigour did her Verse adorn,
  That it seem'd borrow'd, where 'twas only born.
  Her Morals too were in her Bosome bred
      By great Examples daily fed,
What in the best of Books, her Fathers Life, she read.
  And to be read her self she need not fear,
  Each Test, and ev'ry Light, her Muse will bear,
  Though Epictetus with his Lamp were there.
  Ev'n Love (for Love sometimes her Muse exprest)
Was but a Lambent-flame which play'd about her Brest:
  Light as the Vapours of a Morning Dream,
  So cold herself, whilst she such Warmth exprest,
  'Twas Cupid bathing in Diana's Stream.

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  Born to the Spacious Empire of the Nine,
  One would have thought, she should have been content
  To manage well that Mighty Government:
  But what can young ambitious Souls confine?
    To the next Realm she stretcht her Sway,
    For Painture neer adjoyning lay,
  A plenteous Province, and alluring Prey.
  A Chamber of Dependences was fram'd,
  (As Conquerors will never want Pretence,
    When arm'd, to justifie the Offence)
And the whole Fief, in right of Poetry she claim'd.
  The Country open lay without Defence:
  For Poets frequent In-rodes there had made,
    And perfectly could represent
  The Shape, the Face, with ev'ry Lineament;
And all the large Demains which the Dumb-sister  sway'd,
    All bow'd beneath her Government,
    Receiv'd in Triumph wheresoe're she went.
  Her Pencil drew, what e're her Soul design'd,
And oft the happy Draught surpass'd the Image in her Mind.

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    The Sylvan Scenes of Herds and Flocks,
    And fruitful Plains and barren Rocks,
    Of shallow Brooks that flow'd so clear,
    The Bottom did the Top appear;
    Of deeper too and ampler Flouds,
    Which as in Mirrors, shew'd the Woods;
    Of lofty Trees with Sacred Shades,
    And Perspectives of pleasant Glades,
    Where Nymphs of brightest Form appear,
    And shaggy Satyrs standing neer,
    Which them at once admire and fear
    The Ruines too of some Majestick Piece,
    Boasting the Pow'r of ancient Rome or Greece,
    Whose Statues, Freezes, Columns broken lie,
    And though deface't, the Wonder of the Eie,
    What Nature, Art, bold Fiction e're durst frame,
    Her forming Hand gave Shape unto the Name.
    So strange a Concourse ne're was seen before,
But when the peopl'd Ark the whole Creation bore.

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The Scene then chang'd, with bold Erected Look
Our Martial King the Eye with Reverence strook:
For not content t'express his Outward Part,
Her hand call'd out the Image of his Heart,
His Warlike Mind, his Soul devoid of Fear,
His High-designing Thoughts, were figur'd there,
As when, by Magick, Ghosts are made appear.
     Our Phenix Queen was protrai'd too so bright,
Beauty alone could Beauty take so right:
Her Dress, her Shape, her matchless Grace,
Were all observ'd, as well as heav'nly Face.
With such a Peerless Majesty she stands,
As in that Day she took from Sacred hands
The Crown; 'mong num'rous Heroins was seen,
More yet in Beauty, than in Rank, the Queen!
    Thus nothing to her Genius was deny'd,
But like a Ball of fire the further thrown,
    Still with a greater Blaze she shone,
And her bright Soul broke out on ev'ry side.

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What next she had design'd, Heaven only knows,
To such Immod'rate Growth her Conquest rose,
That Fate alone their Progress could oppose.


    Now all those Charmes, that blooming Grace,
The well-proportion'd Shape, and beauteous Face,
Shall never more be seen by Mortal Eyes;
In Earth the much lamented Virgin lies!
  Not Wit, nor Piety could Fate prevent;
  Nor was the cruel Destiny content
  To finish all the Murder at a Blow,
  To sweep at once her Life, and Beauty too;
But, like a hardn'd Fellon, took a pride
     To work more Mischievously slow.
     And plunder'd first, and then destroy'd.
O double Sacriledge on things Divine,
To rob the Relique, and deface the Shrine!
     But thus Orinda dy'd:
  Heav'n, by the same Disease, did both translate,
As equal were their Souls, so equal was their Fate.

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  Mean time her Warlike Brother on the Seas
  His waving Streamers to the Winds displays,
And vows for his Return, with vain Devotion, pays.
     Ah, Generous Youth, that Wish forbear,
     The Winds too soon will waft thee here!
     Slack all thy Sailes, and fear to come,
Alas, thou know'st not, Thou art wreck'd at home!
No more shalt thou behold thy Sisters Face,
Thou hast already had her last Embrace.
But look aloft, and if thou ken'st from far,
Among the Pleiad's a New-kindl'd Star,
If any sparkles, than the rest, more bright,
'Tis she that shines in that propitious Light.


When in mid-Aire, the Golden Trump shall sound,
    To raise the Nations under ground;
    When in the Valley of Jehosaphat,
The Judging God shall close the Book of Fate;
    And there the last Assizes keep,
    For those who Wake, and those who sleep;

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    When ratling Bones together fly
From the four Corners of the Skie,
When Sinews o're the Skeletons are spread,
Those cloath'd with Flesh, and Life inspires the Dead;
The Sacred Poets first shall hear the Sound,
  And formost from the Tomb shall bound:
For they are cover'd with the lightest Ground
And streight, with in-born Vigour, on the Wing,
Like mounting Larkes, to the New Morning sing.
There Thou, Sweet Saint, before the Quire shalt go,
As Harbinger of Heav'n, the Way to show,
The Way which thou so well hast learn'd below.

                              J. Dryden.

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom