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Passions in PoetryEdmund Waller
1606 - 1687

Born in Buckinghamshire as the eldest son of a wealthy landowner, Edmund Waller was educated at Eton and Kings College, Cambridge. He left Kings College without gaining a degree and instead went to Lincoln's Inn in order to study law. He was elected to parliament at the early age of sixteen, and wrote his first verse at the age of nineteen. In his political career he gained a reputation for brilliance as an orator. Although he was committed to remaining politically moderate in the troubled 1640's, by 1643 he had become a convinced Royalist and was involved in a plot to seize and secure London for Charles the first. The plot was uncovered and despite an eloquent appeal in his own defence, Waller was fined, imprisoned and finally exiled from Britain. He was eventually allowed back into the country in 1652 and returned to parliament. Much of Waller's verse consisted of praise for 'Sacharissa', a name he used for Lady Dorothy Sidney whom he courted unsuccessfully in the 1630's; the most well known of these writings today are On a Girdle and Go Lovely Rose. Waller's writing was praised by Dryden for its "sweetness," and his style is marked by its smoothness and order. Despite enjoying great fame and esteem in his lifetime, Waller's reputation declined with criticisms of blandness. His work did influence the literature of the Eighteenth Century, with his most remembered achievement being the perfection of the 'heroic couplet'.

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Edmund Waller
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