1682 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dryden

Thomas Creech, "To Mr. Dryden, on Religio Laici" Dryden, Religio Laici (1682) sig. (c2)-(c)2v.



'Tis nobly done, a Layman's Creed profest,
When all our Faith of late hung on a Priest;
His doubtful words like Oracles receiv'd,
And when we could not understand, believ'd.
Triumphant Faith now takes a nobler course,
'Tis gentle, but resists intruding force:
Weak Reason may pretend an awfull sway,
And Consistories charge her to obey;
(Strange Nonsense to confine the sacred Dove,
And narrow Rules prescribe how she shall love,
And how upon the barren Waters move.)
But she rejects and scorns their proud Pretence,
And whilst those groveling things depend on Sense;
She mounts on certain wings and flys on high,
And looks upon a dazling Mystery,
With fixt, and steddy, and an Eagle's Eye.
Great King of Verse, that dost instruct and please,
As Orpheus soften'd the rude Savages:
And gently freest us from a double Care,
The bold Socinian, and the Papal Chair:
Thy Judgment is correct, thy Fancy young,
Thy Numbers, as thy generous faith, are strong:
Whilst through dark Prejudice they force their way,
Our Souls shake off the Night and view the Day.
We live secure from mad Enthusiasts Rage,
And fond Tradition now grown blind with Age.
Let factious and ambitious Souls repine,
Thy Reason's strong, and generous thy Design,
And allways to doe well is onely thine.