1736 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dryden

Anonymous, "On the Feast of Alexander. Written by Mr. Dryden, and set to Musick by Mr. Handel" Daily Post (6 March 1736).



Dryden for Macedon's brave Prince design'd
This Godlike Treat, the Banquet of the Mind:
To move the Passions by alternate Sounds,
Like Seas to rage, and then to set them Bounds;
To sooth with Pity, soften with Distress;
To fire with Glory, heighten with Success;
With Wine to elevate supiner Hours,
And banish Cares with Thais in cool Bow'rs.

To grace this Son of everlasting Fame,
And crown the Feast, Divine Cecilia came,
Goddess of tuneful Sound — Timotheous speaks—
Lo! from her Orb the fair Musician breaks,
Myriads of Angels her Retinue form'd,
By Musick vanquish'd, and Love's Passion warm'd.

When Handel touch'd at Dryden's matchless Theme,
(And fond to raise himself, as Heav'n had him)
With wondrous Art attempts the mighty Song,
Distinguish'd by the Voice of Fame so long:
Improves ev'n Dryden — and with Strains divine
(Tho' not Cecilia) draws a Caroline:
Himself (the great Timotheus) strikes the Strings,
And to a greater Alexander sings.