1749 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dryden

Anonymous, in Westminster Abbey, an Heroic Poem (1749) 21-25.



Lo! learned DRYDEN'S Bust attracts the View;
Encircling Bays adorn the Laureat's Brow.
To Phoebus dear, his Works, ye Muses, sing,
To DRYDEN'S Lyre attune the trembling String,
Who quaff'd large Draughts of your Pierian Spring:
Majestic Virgil, thro' his studious Toil
Transplanted, blooms in fair Britannia's Isle.
Under some leafy Oak's embow'ring Shade
Reclin'd, our Shepherds trill the tuneful Reed.
In England's fertile Vales, the rustic Swain,
Dictator-like, manures the furrow'd Plain:
Whistling, sans Thought, leans on the slow-pac'd Plow,
While grazing Herds in verdant Meadows lowe.
In the Aeneid Albion's MARO shines,
Whilst the fierce Battle swells his pompous Lines.
Lo! Mars indignant guides his thund'ring Car,
Urges the Tumult, and directs the War.
Keen Juvenal in British Language rules,
And brands enormous Vice in Knaves, or Fools.
Intricate Persius, erst in Mists conceal'd,
Clear'd by our Bard's, Translation, shines reveal'd.
Long Time in learn'd Obscurity, and Night
Enwrapp'd, the Satyrist springs forth to Light.
From Chaos thus, pierc'd by the enliv'ning Ray,
Light beam'd, and pour'd a streaming Flood of Day.
How bright his Genius in the Drama shone,
The Times he grac'd, and later Aeras own.
When the Bard soars in Shakespear's lofty Strain,
Unclogg'd with tuneful Rhyme's depressing Chain:
How Antony! how Cleopatra moves
Each Breast! Ventidius honest Friendship proves,
His Fame's stern Guardian! thwarts the Gen'ral's Loves.
See fond Excess prevail at Glory's Cost,
Beauty triumphant, and a World well lost.
If, 'mid such brilliant Gems, some Flaws remain,
The Ermin'd Robe is seldom free from Stain;
Let th' hasty Labours of his teeming Brain,
The num'rous Offspring of his pregnant Muse,
And strong Necessity, plead some Excuse.
Renown'd, tho' poor! he left this earthly Stage,
Crush'd with the Weight of Indigence and Age.