1682 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dryden

Nahum Tate, "To the conceal'd Author of this incomparable Poem" Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1682) sig. A4-A4v.



Hail Heav'n-born Muse! hail ev'ry Sacred page!
The Glory of our I'le and of our Age.
Th' inspiring Sun to Albion draws more nigh,
The North at length teems with a Work to vie
With Homer's Flame and Virgil's Majesty.
While Pindus lofty Heights our Poet sought,
(His ravisht Mind with vast Idea's fraught)
Our Language fail'd beneath his rising Thought:
This checks not his Attempt, for Maro's Mines,
He dreins of all their Gold t' adorn his Lines;
Through each of which the Mantuan Genius shines,
The Rock obey'd the pow'rfull Hebrew Guide,
Her flinty Breast dissolv'd into a Tide:
Thus on our stubborn Language he prevails,
And makes the Helicon in which he sails.
The Dialect, as well as Sense, invents,
And, with his Poem, a new Speech presents.
Hail then thou matchless Bard, thou great Unknown,
That give your Countrey Fame, yet shun your own!
In vain — for ev'ry where your Praise you find,
And not to meet it, you must shun Mankind.
Your Loyal Theam each Loyal Reader draws,
And ev'n the Factious give your Verse applause,
Whose Lightning strikes to ground their Idol Cause.
The Cause for whose dear sake they drank a Floud
Of Civil Gore, nor spar'd the Royal bloud:
The Cause whose growth to crush, our Prelates wrote
In vain, almost in vain our Hero's fought.
Yet by one Stabb of your keen Satyr dies:
Before your Sacred Lines their Shatter'd Dagon lies.

Oh! if unworthy we appear to know
The sire, to whom this Lovely Birth we owe:
(Deny'd our ready Homage to express,
And can at best but thankfull be by guess:)
This hope remains, — May David's God-like Mind,
(For him 'twas wrote) the Unknown Author find:
And, having found, show'r equal Favours down
On Wit so vast as cou'd oblige a Crown.
N. T.