1693 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dryden

Bevil Higgons, "To Mr. Dryden, on his Translation of Persius" Examen Poeticum: being the Third Part of Miscellany Poems (1693) 250-51.



As Mariners at Sea, far off descry
Some unknown Land, and pass regardless by,
Their Charts some eminent Cape, or Mountain tell,
And all the rest but Blanks and Cyphers fill;
So we at distance gloomy Persius view'd,
But none approach'd, and his rough Tracts pursu'd,
Till mighty Dryden ventur'd first on Shoar,
And the dark unknown Region did explore:
Drest by thy artful Hand, he does appear
Bright and perspicuous, as he is severe:
With this rich Present you oblige our Isle,
And in his Urn make Persius smile;
By thee preserv'd from the ignoble Grave,
Whose reputation will his Credit save.
If with another's Arms so keen you fight,
How will your own well-pointed Satire bite?
Our Vices, as old Rome's, are not so few,
And we do wait to be chastis'd by you;
To see unchain'd thy Generous Muse's Rage,
At once t' oblige, and lash an Impious Age:
What don't the wondring World expect from thee?
Thou hast more cause, a greater Persius we.

Nor is thy Talent to our Art confin'd,
But Universal as thy boundless Mind:
Thy knowing Muse all sorts of Men does teach,
Philosophers instructs to live, Divines to preach,
States-men to govern, Generals to fight,
At once Mankind you profit and delight.
Virtue so lovely drest by thee, doth shine,
So bright appears in each instructing Line:
Vast the Ideas which from thee we take,
While the dull Pulpits no impression make.

But where to Love thy softer thoughts unbend,
There all the Graces on thy Muse attend.
Thy charming Numbers do our Souls inthrall,
The Rigid melt, and we turn Lovers all;
The Cupids dance in ev'ry Ladies eye,
Who reading Love as they were acting, die.