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Best Famous John Dryden Poems

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Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem

To the Memory of Mr. Oldham

Farewell, too little, and too lately known,
Whom I began to think and call my own:
For sure our souls were near allied, and thine
Cast in the same poetic mold with mine.
One common note on either lyre did strike, And knaves and fools we both abhorred alike.
To the same goal did both our studies drive; The last set out the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place, While his young friend performed and won the race.
O early ripe! to thy abundant store What could advancing age have added more? It might (what nature never gives the young) Have taught the numbers of thy native tongue.
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line: A noble error, and but seldom made, When poets are by too much force betrayed.
Thy generous fruits, though gathered ere their prime, Still showed a quickness, and maturing time But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of rhyme.
Once more, hail and farewell; farewell, thou young, But ah too short, Marcellus of our tongue; Thy brows with ivy, and with laurels bound; But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.

Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem

Mac Flecknoe

 All human things are subject to decay,
And, when Fate summons, monarchs must obey:
This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young
Was call'd to empire, and had govern'd long:
In prose and verse, was own'd, without dispute
Through all the realms of Non-sense, absolute.
This aged prince now flourishing in peace, And blest with issue of a large increase, Worn out with business, did at length debate To settle the succession of the State: And pond'ring which of all his sons was fit To reign, and wage immortal war with wit; Cry'd, 'tis resolv'd; for nature pleads that he Should only rule, who most resembles me: Shadwell alone my perfect image bears, Mature in dullness from his tender years.
Shadwell alone, of all my sons, is he Who stands confirm'd in full stupidity.
The rest to some faint meaning make pretence, But Shadwell never deviates into sense.
Some beams of wit on other souls may fall, Strike through and make a lucid interval; But Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray, His rising fogs prevail upon the day: Besides his goodly fabric fills the eye, And seems design'd for thoughtless majesty: Thoughtless as monarch oaks, that shade the plain, And, spread in solemn state, supinely reign.
Heywood and Shirley were but types of thee, Thou last great prophet of tautology: Even I, a dunce of more renown than they, Was sent before but to prepare thy way; And coarsely clad in Norwich drugget came To teach the nations in thy greater name.
My warbling lute, the lute I whilom strung When to King John of Portugal I sung, Was but the prelude to that glorious day, When thou on silver Thames did'st cut thy way, With well tim'd oars before the royal barge, Swell'd with the pride of thy celestial charge; And big with hymn, commander of an host, The like was ne'er in Epsom blankets toss'd.
Methinks I see the new Arion sail, The lute still trembling underneath thy nail.
At thy well sharpen'd thumb from shore to shore The treble squeaks for fear, the basses roar: Echoes from Pissing-Alley, Shadwell call, And Shadwell they resound from Aston Hall.
About thy boat the little fishes throng, As at the morning toast, that floats along.
Sometimes as prince of thy harmonious band Thou wield'st thy papers in thy threshing hand.
Andre's feet ne'er kept more equal time, Not ev'n the feet of thy own Psyche's rhyme: Though they in number as in sense excel; So just, so like tautology they fell, That, pale with envy, Singleton forswore The lute and sword which he in triumph bore And vow'd he ne'er would act Villerius more.
Here stopt the good old sire; and wept for joy In silent raptures of the hopeful boy.
All arguments, but most his plays, persuade, That for anointed dullness he was made.
Close to the walls which fair Augusta bind, (The fair Augusta much to fears inclin'd) An ancient fabric, rais'd t'inform the sight, There stood of yore, and Barbican it hight: A watch tower once; but now, so fate ordains, Of all the pile an empty name remains.
From its old ruins brothel-houses rise, Scenes of lewd loves, and of polluted joys.
Where their vast courts, the mother-strumpets keep, And, undisturb'd by watch, in silence sleep.
Near these a nursery erects its head, Where queens are form'd, and future heroes bred; Where unfledg'd actors learn to laugh and cry, Where infant punks their tender voices try, And little Maximins the gods defy.
Great Fletcher never treads in buskins here, Nor greater Jonson dares in socks appear; But gentle Simkin just reception finds Amidst this monument of vanish'd minds: Pure clinches, the suburbian muse affords; And Panton waging harmless war with words.
Here Flecknoe, as a place to fame well known, Ambitiously design'd his Shadwell's throne.
For ancient Decker prophesi'd long since, That in this pile should reign a mighty prince, Born for a scourge of wit, and flail of sense: To whom true dullness should some Psyches owe, But worlds of Misers from his pen should flow; Humorists and hypocrites it should produce, Whole Raymond families, and tribes of Bruce.
Now Empress Fame had publisht the renown, Of Shadwell's coronation through the town.
Rous'd by report of fame, the nations meet, From near Bun-Hill, and distant Watling-street.
No Persian carpets spread th'imperial way, But scatter'd limbs of mangled poets lay: From dusty shops neglected authors come, Martyrs of pies, and reliques of the bum.
Much Heywood, Shirley, Ogleby there lay, But loads of Shadwell almost chok'd the way.
Bilk'd stationers for yeoman stood prepar'd, And Herringman was Captain of the Guard.
The hoary prince in majesty appear'd, High on a throne of his own labours rear'd.
At his right hand our young Ascanius sat Rome's other hope, and pillar of the state.
His brows thick fogs, instead of glories, grace, And lambent dullness play'd around his face.
As Hannibal did to the altars come, Sworn by his sire a mortal foe to Rome; So Shadwell swore, nor should his vow be vain, That he till death true dullness would maintain; And in his father's right, and realm's defence, Ne'er to have peace with wit, nor truce with sense.
The king himself the sacred unction made, As king by office, and as priest by trade: In his sinister hand, instead of ball, He plac'd a mighty mug of potent ale; Love's kingdom to his right he did convey, At once his sceptre and his rule of sway; Whose righteous lore the prince had practis'd young, And from whose loins recorded Psyche sprung, His temples last with poppies were o'er spread, That nodding seem'd to consecrate his head: Just at that point of time, if fame not lie, On his left hand twelve reverend owls did fly.
So Romulus, 'tis sung, by Tiber's brook, Presage of sway from twice six vultures took.
Th'admiring throng loud acclamations make, And omens of his future empire take.
The sire then shook the honours of his head, And from his brows damps of oblivion shed Full on the filial dullness: long he stood, Repelling from his breast the raging god; At length burst out in this prophetic mood: Heavens bless my son, from Ireland let him reign To far Barbadoes on the Western main; Of his dominion may no end be known, And greater than his father's be his throne.
Beyond love's kingdom let him stretch his pen; He paus'd, and all the people cry'd Amen.
Then thus, continu'd he, my son advance Still in new impudence, new ignorance.
Success let other teach, learn thou from me Pangs without birth, and fruitless industry.
Let Virtuosos in five years be writ; Yet not one thought accuse thy toil of wit.
Let gentle George in triumph tread the stage, Make Dorimant betray, and Loveit rage; Let Cully, Cockwood, Fopling, charm the pit, And in their folly show the writer's wit.
Yet still thy fools shall stand in thy defence, And justify their author's want of sense.
Let 'em be all by thy own model made Of dullness, and desire no foreign aid: That they to future ages may be known, Not copies drawn, but issue of thy own.
Nay let thy men of wit too be the same, All full of thee, and differing but in name; But let no alien Sedley interpose To lard with wit thy hungry Epsom prose.
And when false flowers of rhetoric thou would'st cull, Trust Nature, do not labour to be dull; But write thy best, and top; and in each line, Sir Formal's oratory will be thine.
Sir Formal, though unsought, attends thy quill, And does thy Northern Dedications fill.
Nor let false friends seduce thy mind to fame, By arrogating Jonson's hostile name.
Let Father Flecknoe fire thy mind with praise, And Uncle Ogleby thy envy raise.
Thou art my blood, where Jonson has no part; What share have we in Nature or in Art? Where did his wit on learning fix a brand, And rail at arts he did not understand? Where made he love in Prince Nicander's vein, Or swept the dust in Psyche's humble strain? Where sold he bargains, whip-stitch, kiss my ****, Promis'd a play and dwindled to a farce? When did his muse from Fletcher scenes purloin, As thou whole Eth'ridge dost transfuse to thine? But so transfus'd as oil on waters flow, His always floats above, thine sinks below.
This is thy province, this thy wondrous way, New humours to invent for each new play: This is that boasted bias of thy mind, By which one way, to dullness, 'tis inclin'd, Which makes thy writings lean on one side still, And in all changes that way bends thy will.
Nor let thy mountain belly make pretence Of likeness; thine's a tympany of sense.
A tun of man in thy large bulk is writ, But sure thou 'rt but a kilderkin of wit.
Like mine thy gentle numbers feebly creep, Thy Tragic Muse gives smiles, thy Comic sleep.
With whate'er gall thou sett'st thy self to write, Thy inoffensive satires never bite.
In thy felonious heart, though venom lies, It does but touch thy Irish pen, and dies.
Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame In keen iambics, but mild anagram: Leave writing plays, and choose for thy command Some peaceful province in acrostic land.
There thou may'st wings display and altars raise, And torture one poor word ten thousand ways.
Or if thou would'st thy diff'rent talents suit, Set thy own songs, and sing them to thy lute.
He said, but his last words were scarcely heard, For Bruce and Longvil had a trap prepar'd, And down they sent the yet declaiming bard.
Sinking he left his drugget robe behind, Born upwards by a subterranean wind.
The mantle fell to the young prophet's part, With double portion of his father's art.
Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem

Farewell Ungrateful Traitor!

 Farewell, ungrateful traitor! 
Farewell, my perjur'd swain! 
Let never injur'd woman 
Believe a man again.
The pleasure of possessing Surpasses all expressing, But 'tis too short a blessing, And love too long a pain.
'Tis easy to deceive us In pity of your pain, But when we love, you leave us To rail at you in vain.
Before we have descried it, There is no joy beside it, But she that once has tried it Will never love again.
The passion you pretended Was only to obtain, But once the charm is ended, The charmer you disdain.
Your love by ours we measure Till we have lost our treasure, But dying is a pleasure When living is a pain.
Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem

Heroic Stanzas

 Consecrated to the Glorious Memory of His 
Most Serene and Renowned Highness, Oliver,
Late Lord Protector of This Commonwealth, etc.
(Oliver Cromwell) Written After the Celebration of his Funeral 1 And now 'tis time; for their officious haste, Who would before have borne him to the sky, Like eager Romans ere all rites were past Did let too soon the sacred eagle fly.
2 Though our best notes are treason to his fame Join'd with the loud applause of public voice; Since Heav'n, what praise we offer to his name, Hath render'd too authentic by its choice; 3 Though in his praise no arts can liberal be, Since they whose Muses have the highest flown Add not to his immortal memory, But do an act of friendship to their own; 4 Yet 'tis our duty and our interest too Such monuments as we can build to raise, Lest all the world prevent what we should do And claim a title in him by their praise.
5 How shall I then begin, or where conclude To draw a fame so truly circular? For in a round what order can be shew'd, Where all the parts so equal perfect are? 6 His grandeur he deriv'd from Heav'n alone, For he was great ere fortune made him so, And wars like mists that rise against the sun Made him but greater seem, not greater grown.
7 No borrow'd bays his temples did adorn, But to our crown he did fresh jewels bring.
Nor was his virtue poison'd soon as born With the too early thoughts of being king.
8 Fortune (that easy mistress of the young But to her ancient servant coy and hard) Him at that age her favorites rank'd among When she her best-lov'd Pompey did discard.
9 He, private, mark'd the faults of others' sway, And set as sea-marks for himself to shun, Not like rash monarchs who their youth betray By acts their age too late would wish undone.
10 And yet dominion was not his design; We owe that blessing not to him but Heaven, Which to fair acts unsought rewards did join, Rewards that less to him than us were given.
11 Our former chiefs like sticklers of the war First sought t'inflame the parties, then to poise, The quarrel lov'd, but did the cause abhor, And did not strike to hurt but make a noise.
12 War, our consumption, was their gainfull trade; We inward bled whilst they prolong'd our pain; He fought to end our fighting and assay'd To stanch the blood by breathing of the vein.
13 Swift and resistless through the land he pass'd Like that bold Greek who did the east subdue, And made to battles such heroic haste As if on wings of victory he flew.
14 He fought secure of fortune as of fame, Till by new maps the island might be shown, Of conquests which he strew'd where'er he came Thick as a galaxy with stars is sown.
15 His palms, though under weights they did not stand, Still thriv'd; no winter could his laurels fade; Heav'n in his portrait shew'd a workman's hand And drew it perfect yet without a shade.
16 Peace was the prize of all his toils and care, Which war had banish'd and did now restore; Bologna's walls thus mounted in the air To seat themselves more surely than before.
17 Her safety rescu'd Ireland to him owes, And treacherous Scotland, to no int'rest true, Yet bless'd that fate which did his arms dispose Her land to civilize as to subdue.
18 Nor was he like those stars which only shine When to pale mariners they storms portend; He had his calmer influence, and his mien Did love and majesty together blend.
19 'Tis true, his count'nance did imprint an awe, And naturally all souls to his did bow, As wands of divination downward draw And points to beds where sov'reign gold doth grow.
20 When past all offerings to Feretrian Jove, He Mars depos'd and arms to gowns made yield; Successful councils did him soon approve As fit for close intrigues as open field.
21 To suppliant Holland he vouchsaf'd a peace, Our once bold rival in the British main, Now tamely glad her unjust claim to cease And buy our friendship with her idol, gain.
22 Fame of th' asserted sea through Europe blown Made France and Spain ambitious of his love; Each knew that side must conquer he would own, And for him fiercely as for empire strove.
23 No sooner was the Frenchman's cause embrac'd Than the light monsieur the grave don outweigh'd; His fortune turn'd the scale where it was cast, Though Indian mines were in the other laid.
24 When absent, yet we conquer'd in his right, For though some meaner artist's skill were shown In mingling colours, or in placing light, Yet still the fair designment was his own.
25 For from all tempers he could service draw; The worth of each with its alloy he knew, And as the confidant of Nature saw How she complexions did divide and brew.
26 Or he their single virtues did survey By intuition in his own large breast, Where all the rich ideas of them lay, That were the rule and measure to the rest.
27 When such heroic virtue Heav'n sets out, The stars like Commons sullenly obey, Because it drains them when it comes about, And therefore is a tax they seldom pay.
28 From this high spring our foreign conquests flow, Which yet more glorious triumphs do portend, Since their commencement to his arms they owe, If springs as high as fountains may ascend.
29 He made us freemen of the continent Whom Nature did like captives treat before, To nobler preys the English lion sent, And taught him first in Belgian walks to roar.
30 That old unquestion'd pirate of the land, Proud Rome, with dread the fate of Dunkirk heard, And trembling wish'd behind more Alps to stand, Although an Alexander were here guard.
31 By his command we boldly cross'd the line And bravely fought where southern stars arise, We trac'd the far-fetch'd gold unto the mine And that which brib'd our fathers made our prize.
32 Such was our prince; yet own'd a soul above The highest acts it could produce to show: Thus poor mechanic arts in public move Whilst the deep secrets beyond practice go.
33 Nor di'd he when his ebbing fame went less, But when fresh laurels courted him to live; He seem'd but to prevent some new success, As if above what triumphs earth could give.
34 His latest victories still thickest came, As near the center motion does increase, Till he, press'd down by his own weighty name, Did, like the vestal, under spoils decrease.
35 But first the ocean as a tribute sent That giant prince of all her watery herd, And th' isle when her protecting genius went Upon his obsequies loud sighs conferr'd.
36 No civil broils have since his death arose, But faction now by habit does obey, And wars have that respect for his repose, As winds for halycons when they breed at sea.
37 His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest; His name a great example stands to show How strangely high endeavours may be blest, Where piety and valour jointly go.
Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem


 To the Pious Memory of the Accomplished Young Lady, Mrs Anne Killigrew,
Excellent in the Two Sister-arts of Poesy and Painting

Thou youngest Virgin Daughter of the skies,
Made in the last promotion of the blest;
Whose palms, new-plucked from Paradise,
In spreading branches more sublimely rise,
Rich with immortal green, above the rest:
Whether, adopted to some neighbouring star,
Thou roll'st above us in thy wand'ring race,
Or, in procession fixed and regular
Moved with the heavens' majestic pace;
Or, called to more superior bliss,
Thou tread'st with seraphims the vast abyss:
Whatever happy region be thy place,
Cease thy celestial song a little space;
(Thou wilt have time enough for hymns divine,
Since Heaven's eternal year is thine.
) Hear then a mortal muse thy praise rehearse In no ignoble verse; But such as thy own voice did practise here, When thy first fruits of poesie were given, To make thyself a welcome inmate there; While yet a young probationer And candidate of Heaven.
If by traduction came thy mind, Our wonder is the less to find A soul so charming from a stock so good; Thy father was transfused into thy blood: So wert thou born into the tuneful strain, (An early, rich, and inexhausted vein.
) But if thy pre-existing soul Was formed, at first, with myriads more, It did through all the mighty poets roll Who Greek or Latin laurels wore, And was that Sappho last, which once it was before; If so, then cease thy flight, O Heav'n-born mind! Thou hast no dross to purge from thy rich ore: Nor can thy soul a fairer mansion find Than was the beauteous frame she left behind: Return, to fill or mend the choir of thy celestial kind.
May we presume to say that at thy birth New joy was sprung in Heav'n as well as here on earth? For sure the milder planets did combine On thy auspicious horoscope to shine, And ev'n the most malicious were in trine.
Thy brother-angels at thy birth Strung each his lyre, and tuned it high, That all the people of the sky Might know a poetess was born on earth; And then if ever, mortal ears Had heard the music of the spheres! And if no clust'ring swarm of bees On thy sweet mouth distilled their golden dew, 'Twas that such vulgar miracles Heav'n had not leisure to renew: For all the blest fraternity of love Solemnized there thy birth, and kept thy holyday above.
O gracious God! how far have we Profaned thy Heav'nly gift of poesy! Made prostitute and profligate the Muse, Debased to each obscene and impious use, Whose harmony was first ordained above, For tongues of angels and for hymns of love! Oh wretched we! why were we hurried down This lubrique and adult'rate age (Nay, added fat pollutions of our own) T' increase the steaming ordures of the stage? What can we say t' excuse our second fall? Let this thy vestal, Heav'n, atone for all: Her Arethusian stream remains unsoiled, Unmixed with foreign filth and undefiled; Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child.
Art she had none, yet wanted none, For nature did that want supply: So rich in treasures of her own, She might our boasted stores defy: Such noble vigour did her verse adorn, That it seemed borrowed, where 'twas only born.
Her morals too were in her bosom bred By great examples daily fed, What in the best of books, her father's life, she read.
And to be read herself she need not fear; Each test and ev'ry light her muse will bear, Though Epictetus with his lamp were there.
Ev'n love (for love sometimes her muse expressed) Was but a lambent-flame which played about her breast, Light as the vapours of a morning dream; So cold herself, while she such warmth expressed, 'Twas Cupid bathing in Diana's stream.
Born to the spacious empire of the Nine, One would have thought she should have been content To manage well that mighty government; But what can young ambitious souls confine? To the next realm she stretched her sway, For painture near adjoining lay, A plenteous province, and alluring prey.
A chamber of dependences was framed, (As conquerers will never want pretence, When armed, to justify th' offence), And the whole fief, in right of poetry, she claimed.
The country open lay without defence; For poets frequent inroads there had made, And perfectly could represent The shape, the face, with ev'ry lineament; And all the large domains which the dumb-sister swayed, All bowed beneath her government, Received in triumph wheresoe'er she went.
Her pencil drew whate'er her soul designed, And oft the happy draught surpassed the image in her mind.
The sylvan scenes of herds and flocks, And fruitful plains and barren rocks; Of shallow brooks that flowed so clear, The bottom did the top appear; Of deeper too and ampler floods Which as in mirrors showed the woods; Of lofty trees, with sacred shades, And perspectives of pleasant glades, Where nymphs of brightest form appear, And shaggy satyrs standing near, Which them at once admire and fear.
The ruins too of some majestic piece, Boasting the pow'r of ancient Rome or Greece, Whose statues, friezes, columns, broken lie, And, though defaced, the wonder of the eye; What nature, art, bold fiction, e'er durst frame, Her forming hand gave feature to the name.
So strange a concourse ne'er was seen before, But when the peopled ark the whole creation bore.
The scene then changed; with bold erected look Our martial king the sight with rev'rence strook: For, not content t' express his outward part, Her hand called out the image of his heart, His warlike mind, his soul devoid of fear, His high-designing thoughts were figured there, As when, by magic, ghosts are made appear.
Our phoenix Queen was portrayed too so bright, Beauty alone could beauty take so right: Her dress, her shape, her matchless grace, Were all observed, as well as heavenly face.
With such a peerless majesty she stands, As in that day she took the crown from sacred hands: Before a train of heroines was seen, In beauty foremost, as in rank, the Queen! Thus nothing to her genius was denied, But like a ball of fire, the farther thrown, Still with a greater blaze she shone, And her bright soul broke out on ev'ry side.
What next she had designed, Heaven only knows: To such immod'rate growth her conquest rose, That Fate alone its progress could oppose.
Now all those charms, that blooming grace, That well-proportioned shape, and beauteous face, Shall never more be seen by mortal eyes; In earth the much-lamented virgin lies! Not wit nor piety could Fate prevent; Nor was the cruel destiny content To finish all the murder at a blow, To sweep at once her life and beauty too; But, like a hardened felon, took a pride To work more mischievously slow, And plundered first, and then destroyed.
O double sacrilege on things divine, To rob the relic, and deface the shrine! But thus Orinda died: Heaven, by the same disease, did both translate; As equal were their souls, so equal was their fate.
Meantime, her warlike brother on the seas His waving streamers to the winds displays, And vows for his return, with vain devotion, pays.
Ah, gen'rous youth! that wish forbear, The winds too soon will waft thee here! Slack all thy sails, and fear to come, Alas, thou know'st not, thou art wrecked at home! No more shalt thou behold thy sister's face, Thou hast already had her last embrace.
But look aloft, and if thou kenn'st from far Among the Pleiads a new-kindled star, If any sparkles than the rest more bright, 'Tis she that shines in that propitious light.
When in mid-air the golden trump shall sound, To raise the nations underground; When in the valley of Jehosaphat The judging God shall close the book of Fate; And there the last assizes keep For those who wake and those who sleep; When rattling bones together fly From the four corners of the sky, When sinews o'er the skeletons are spread, Those clothed with flesh, and life inspires the dead; The sacred poets first shall hear the sound, And foremost from the tomb shall bound: For they are covered with the lightest ground; And straight with in-born vigour, on the wing, Like mounting larks, to the New Morning sing.
There thou, sweet saint, before the choir shall go, As harbinger of Heav'n, the way to show, The way which thou so well hast learned below.

Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem

Happy The Man

 Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power, But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem

To The Memory Of Mr Oldham

 Farewell, too little and too lately known,
Whom I began to think and call my own;
For sure our souls were near allied, and thine
Cast in the same poetic mould with mine.
One common note on either lyre did strike, And knaves and fools we both abhorred alike.
To the same goal did both our studies drive; The last set out the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place, While his young friend performed and won the race.
O early ripe! to thy abundant store What could advancing age have added more? It might (what Nature never gives the young) Have taught the numbers of thy native tongue.
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.
A noble error, and but seldom made, When poets are by too much force betrayed.
Thy generous fruits, though gathered ere their prime, Still showed a quickness; and maturing time But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of rhyme.
Once more, hail and farewell! farewell, thou young, But ah too short, Marcellus of our tongue! Thy brows with ivy and with laurels bound; But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.
Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem

To My Dear Friend Mr. Congreve On His Commedy Calld The Double Dealer

 Well then; the promis'd hour is come at last;
The present age of wit obscures the past:
Strong were our sires; and as they fought they writ,
Conqu'ring with force of arms, and dint of wit;
Theirs was the giant race, before the Flood;
And thus, when Charles return'd, our empire stood.
Like Janus he the stubborn soil manur'd, With rules of husbandry the rankness cur'd: Tam'd us to manners, when the stage was rude; And boisterous English wit, with art endu'd.
Our age was cultivated thus at length; But what we gained in skill we lost in strength.
Our builders were, with want of genius, curst; The second temple was not like the first: Till you, the best Vitruvius, come at length; Our beauties equal; but excel our strength.
Firm Doric pillars found your solid base: The fair Corinthian crowns the higher space; Thus all below is strength, and all above is grace.
In easy dialogue is Fletcher's praise: He mov'd the mind, but had not power to raise.
Great Jonson did by strength of judgment please: Yet doubling Fletcher's force, he wants his ease.
In differing talents both adorn'd their age; One for the study, t'other for the stage.
But both to Congreve justly shall submit, One match'd in judgment, both o'er-match'd in wit.
In him all beauties of this age we see; Etherege's courtship, Southern's purity; The satire, wit, and strength of manly Wycherly.
All this in blooming youth you have achiev'd; Nor are your foil'd contemporaries griev'd; So much the sweetness of your manners move, We cannot envy you because we love.
Fabius might joy in Scipio, when he saw A beardless Consul made against the law, And join his suffrage to the votes of Rome; Though he with Hannibal was overcome.
Thus old Romano bow'd to Raphael's fame; And scholar to the youth he taught, became.
Oh that your brows my laurel had sustain'd, Well had I been depos'd, if you had reign'd! The father had descended for the son; For only you are lineal to the throne.
Thus when the State one Edward did depose; A greater Edward in his room arose.
But now, not I, but poetry is curs'd; For Tom the second reigns like Tom the first.
But let 'em not mistake my patron's part; Nor call his charity their own desert.
Yet this I prophesy; thou shalt be seen, (Tho' with some short parenthesis between:) High on the throne of wit; and seated there, Not mine (that's little) but thy laurel wear.
Thy first attempt an early promise made; That early promise this has more than paid.
So bold, yet so judiciously you dare, That your least praise, is to be regular.
Time, place, and action, may with pains be wrought, But genius must be born; and never can be taught.
This is your portion; this your native store; Heav'n that but once was prodigal before, To Shakespeare gave as much; she could not give him more.
Maintain your post: that's all the fame you need; For 'tis impossible you should proceed.
Already I am worn with cares and age; And just abandoning th' ungrateful stage: Unprofitably kept at Heav'n's expense, I live a rent-charge on his providence: But you, whom ev'ry muse and grace adorn, Whom I foresee to better fortune born, Be kind to my remains; and oh defend, Against your judgment your departed friend! Let not the insulting foe my fame pursue; But shade those laurels which descend to you: And take for tribute what these lines express: You merit more; nor could my love do less.
Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem

An Ode On The Death Of Mr. Henry Purcell

 Late Servant to his Majesty, and 
Organist of the Chapel Royal, and 
of St.
Peter's Westminster I Mark how the Lark and Linnet Sing, With rival Notes They strain their warbling Throats, To welcome in the Spring.
But in the close of Night, When Philomel begins her Heav'nly lay, They cease their mutual spite, Drink in her Music with delight, And list'ning and silent, and silent and list'ning, And list'ning and silent obey.
II So ceas'd the rival Crew when Purcell came, They Sung no more, or only Sung his Fame.
Struck dumb they all admir'd the God-like Man, The God-like Man, Alas, too soon retir'd, As He too late began.
We beg not Hell, our Orpheus to restore, Had He been there, Their Sovereign's fear Had sent Him back before.
The pow'r of Harmony too well they know, He long e'er this had Tun'd their jarring Sphere, And left no Hell below.
III The Heav'nly Choir, who heard his Notes from high, Let down the Scale of Music from the Sky: They handed him along, And all the way He taught, and all the way they Sung.
Ye Brethren of the Lyre, and tuneful Voice, Lament his Lot: but at your own rejoice.
Now live secure and linger out your days, The Gods are pleas'd alone with Purcell's Lays, Nor know to mend their Choice.
Written by John Dryden | Create an image from this poem

A Song From The Italian


By a dismal cypress lying,
Damon cried, all pale and dying,
Kind is death that ends my pain,
But cruel she I lov'd in vain.
The mossy fountains Murmur my trouble, And hollow mountains My groans redouble: Ev'ry nymph mourns me, Thus while I languish; She only scorns me, Who caus'd my anguish.
No love returning me, but all hope denying; By a dismal cypress lying, Like a swan, so sung he dying: Kind is death that ends my pain, But cruel she I lov'd in vain.