1683 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Randolph

John Dryden, in William Soame, trans.; Art of Poetry (1683) 15-16.



Such, lovely in its dress, but plain withal,
Ought to appear a Perfect Pastoral:
Its humble method nothing has of fierce,
But hates the ratling of a lofty Verse:
There, Native beauty pleases, and excites,
And never with harsh Sounds the Ear affrights.
But in this stile a Poet often spent,
In rage throws by his Rural Instrument,
And vainly, when disorder'd thoughts abound,
Amid'st the Eclogue makes the Trumpet Sound:
Pan flyes, Alarm'd, into the neighb'ring Woods,
And frighted Nymphs dive down into the Floods.
Oppos'd to this another, low in stile,
Makes Shepherds speak a Language base and vile:
His Writings, flat and heavy, without Sound,
Kissing the Earth, and creeping on the ground;
You'd swear that Randal, in his Rustick Strains,
Again was quav'ring to the Country Swains,
And changing, without care of Sound or Dress,
Strephon and Phyllis, into Tom and Bess.
Twixt these extreams 'tis hard to keep the right;
For Guides take Virgil, and read Theocrite:
Be their just Writings, by the Gods inspir'd,
Your constant Pattern, practis'd and admir'd.