1862 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Congreve

Thomas Arnold, in A Manual of English Literature (1862; 1885) 359-60.



Congreve the dramatist left a number of pretty songs, and some Pindaric poems of more or less merit. In a Discourse on the Pindaric Ode, prefixed to an ode addressed to Queen Mary, he drew attention to the fact that this kind of poetry had its metrical Laws, and was not the mere chaotic fruit of lawless imagination, as English writers seemed to think; in it the "tria Stesichori," the strophe, antistrophe, and epode, ought to be strictly observed. There is it pretty extravagance in the following distich:—

See, she wakes, Sabina wakes!
And now the sun begins to rise;
Less glorious is the morn that breaks
From his bright beams, than her fair eyes.
With light united, day they give,
But different fates ere night fulfil;
How many by his warmth will live!
How many will her coldness kill!