1693 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dryden

Joseph Addison, "To Mr. Dryden" Examen Poeticum: being the Third Part of Miscellany Poems (1693) 247-49.



How long, Great Poet, shall thy Sacred Lays,
Provoke our Wonder, and transcend our Praise?
Can neither Injuries of Time, or Age,
Damp thy Poetick Heat, and quench thy Rage?
Not so thy Ovid in his Exile wrote,
Grief chill'd his Breast, and checkt his rising Thought;
Pensive and sad, his drooping Muse betrays
The Roman Genius in its last Decays.

Prevailing Warmth has still thy Mind possest,
And second Youth is kindled in thy Breast.
Thou mak'st the Beauties of the Romans known,
And England boasts of Riches not her own;
Thy Lines have heighten'd Virgil's Majesty,
And Horace wonders at himself in Thee.
Thou teachest Persius to inform our Isle
In smoother Numbers, and a clearer Stile;
And Juvenal instructed in thy Page,
Edges his Satire, and improves his Rage.
Thy Copy casts a fairer Light on all,
And still out-shines the bright Original.

Now Ovid boasts th' advantage of thy Song,
And tells his Story in the Brittish Tongue;
Thy charming Verse, and fair Translations show
How thy own Lawrel first began to grow;
How wild Lycaon chang'd by angry Gods,
And frighted at himself, ran howling through the Woods.

O may'st thou still the Noble Tale prolong,
Nor Age, or Sickness interrupt thy Song:
Then may we wondring read how Human Limbs,
Have water'd Kingdoms, and dissolv'd in Streams;
Of those rich Fruits that on the Fertile Mould
Turn'd yellow by degrees, and ripen'd into Gold:
How some in Feathers, or a ragged Hide
Have liv'd a second Life, and different Natures try'd.
Then will thy Ovid, thus transform'd, reveal
A Nobler Change than he himself can tell.
Mag. Coll. Oxon,
June 2. 1693.