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Short poem

Edmund Waller (1606-1687)

The Story of Phœbus and Daphne, Applied

              1Thyrsis, a youth of the inspired train,
              2Fair Sacharissa lov'd, but lov'd in vain;
              3Like Phœbus sung the no less amorous boy;
              4Like Daphne she, as lovely, and as coy;
              5With numbers he the flying nymph pursues,
              6With numbers such as Phœbus' self might use;
              7Such is the chase when Love and Fancy leads,
              8O'er craggy mountains, and through flow'ry meads;
              9Invok'd to testify the lover's care,
            10Or form some image of his cruel fair:
            11Urg'd with his fury, like a wounded deer,
            12O'er these he fled; and now approaching near,
            13Had reach'd the nymph with his harmonious lay,
            14Whom all his charms could not incline to stay.
            15Yet what he sung in his immortal strain,
            16Though unsuccessful, was not sung in vain;
            17All but the nymph that should redress his wrong,
            18Attend his passion, and approve his song.
            19Like Phœbus thus, acquiring unsought praise,
            20He catch'd at love, and fill'd his arm with bays.


1] When Phoebus pursued Daphne, her father (the river-god Peneus) changed her into a laurel tree. Phoebus then adopted the laurel as his tree and made the laurel crown a reward of victory in song. Waller adapts this story to his courtship of the Lady Dorothy Sidney.

2] Sacharissa: a name formed from Latin, saccharum, sugar.

5] numbers: verses.

14] charms: songs, incantations.

20] bays: laurels.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Edmund Waller, Poems (1645); facs.edn., Poems, 1645, together with poems from Bodleian MS Dond. 55 (Menston: Scolar Press, 1971). PR 3750 A1 1645 AB Robarts Library
First publication date: 1645
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP.1.443; RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/14

Form: couplets

Other poems by Edmund Waller