Marvell’s Ghost by John Ayloffe

From the dark Stygian banks I come
T’ acquaint poor England with her doom,
Which, as th’ infernal Sisters sate,
I copied from the Book of Fate;
And though the sense may seem disguised,
‘Tis in these following lines comprised:
When England does forsake the broom,
And takes a thistle in its room,
A wanton fiddler shall be led
By Fate to stain his master’s bed,
From whence a spurious race shall grow
Designed for Britain’s overthrow.
These, while they do possess her throne,
Shall serve all int’rests but their own;
And shall be, both in peace and war,
Scourges unto themselves and her.
A brace of exiled youths, whose fates
Shall pull down vengeance on those states
That harbored them abroad, must come
Well-skilled in foreign vices home,
And shall (their dark designs to hide)
With two contesting churches side,
Till, with cross-persecuting zeal,
They have laid waste the commonweal.
Then incest, murder, perjury
Shall fashionable virtues be,
And villainies infest this isle
Would make the son of Claudius smile;
No oaths, no sacraments hold good
But what are sealed with lust or blood—
Lusts that cold exile could not tame,
Nor plague, nor fire at home reclaim.
For this she shall in ashes mourn,
From Europe’s envy turned her scorn,
And curse the days that first gave birth
To a Cecil or a Monck on earth.
But as I onwards strove to look,
The angry Sister shut the book
And said, “No more! That fickle state
Shall know no further of her fate;
Her future fortunes must lie hid
Till her known ills be remedied,
And she to those resentments come
That drove the Tarquins out of Rome,
Or such as did in fury turn
Th’ Assyrian’s palace to his urn.”


Date: 1678

By: John Ayloffe (c1645-1685)


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