Waller, Edmund

Waller, Edmund, 1606–87, English poet. He studied at Eton and Cambridge and became a prominent speaker in Parliament at a young age. He married twice (1631 and 1644), but his early poems are addressed to “Sacharissa,” Lady Dorothy Sidney, who refused to marry him. Although at first an antiroyalist, he later supported Charles I against Parliament and conceived “Waller's plot” (1643) to secure the city of London for the king. The plot was discovered, and Waller was fined and banished. He was pardoned in 1651 and after the Restoration was again in Parliament, where he served until his death. His verse is noted for its smoothness and polish, but aside from a few amatory poems his importance rests on his contributions in style, most notably the development of the heroic couplet. The first collection of his works appeared in 1645 and immediately went through several editions. His best-known lyrics are “Go, Lovely Rose” and “On a Girdle.”

See his poems ed. by G. T. Drury (1893, repr. 1968); A. W. Allison, Toward an Augustan Poetic (1962).

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