Archive for July 17th, 2014

Thursday, 17 July 2014

An Occasional Imitation of a Modern Author Upon the Game of Chess by John Denham

A tablet stood of that abstersive tree,
Where Aethiop’s swarthy bird did build her nest;
Inlaid it was with Libyan ivory,
Drawn from the jaws of Afric’s prudent beast.
Two kings like Saul, much taller than the rest,
Their equal armies draw into the field;
Till one take th’other pris’ner they contest;
Courage and fortune must to conduct yield.
This game the Persian Magi did invent,
The force of Eastern wisdom to express;
From thence to busy Europeans sent,
And styled by modern Lombards pensive Chess.
Yet some that fled from Troy to Rome report,
Penthesilea Priam did oblige;
Her Amazons his Trojans taught this sport,
To pass the tedious hours of ten years’ siege.
There she presents herself, whilst kings and peers
Look gravely on whilst fierce Bellona fights;
Yet maiden modesty her motions steers,
Nor rudely skips o’er bishops’ heads like knights.

From: Waller, Edmund, Denham, Sir John and Gillfillan, Rev. George, The Poetical Works of Edmund Waller and Sir John Denham. With Memoir and Critical Dissertation by Rev. George Gilfillan, 1857, James Nichol: Edinburgh,p. 271.

Date: 1668

By: John Denham (1615-1669)