Chaucer and Spenser play Ennius to Dryden's Virgil: "Too far they wildly rang'd to start the Prey, | And did too much of Fairy Land display; | And in their rugged Dissonance of Lines, | True manly thought debas'd with Trifles shines." The poem, dedicated to the Duke of Buckingham, was written ca. 1707 and published in 1721. John Dryden's Fables (1700) marked a turning away from French models and the return to the medieval and Italian sources used by Spenser and later romantic poets. Not seen.
Jabez Hughes was the brother of John Hughes, the future editor of Spenser's Works (1715).
Our great Forefathers in Poetic Song,
Were rude in Diction, tho' their Sense was strong;
Well-measur'd Verse they knew not how to frame,
Their Words ungraceful, and the Cadence lame;
Too far they wildly rang'd to start the Prey,
And did too much of Fairy Land display;
And in their rugged Dissonance of Lines,
True manly thought debas'd with Trifles shines.
Each gaudy Flower that wantons on the Mead,
Must not appear within the curious Bed;
But nature's chosen Birth should flourish there,
And with their Beauties crown the sweet Parterre.
Such was the Scene, when Dryden came to found
More perfect Lays, with Harmony of Sound:
What lively Colours glow on ev'ry Draught!
How bright his Images, how rais'd his Thought!
The Parts proportion'd to their proper Place,
With Strength supported, and adorn'd with Grace.
With what Perfection did his artful Hand
The various Kinds of Poesy command!
And the whole Choir of Muses, at his Call,
In his rich Song, which was inspir'd of all,
Spoke from the Cords of his enchanting Lyre,
And gave his Breast the Fulness of their Fire.
As while the Sun displays his Lordly Light,
The Host of Stars are humbly veil'd from Sight,
'Till when he falls, they kindle all on high,
And smartly sparkle in the nightly Sky;
His Fellow Bards suspended thus their Ray,
Drown'd in the strong Effulgence of his Day;
But glowing to their Rise, at his Decline,
Each cast his Beams, and each began to shine.
As Years advance, th' abated soul in most
Sinks to low Ebb, in second Childhood lost;
And spoiling Age, dishonouring our Kind,
Robs all the Treasures of the wasted Mind;
With hov'ring Clouds obscures the muffled Sight,
And dim Suffusion of enduring Night:
But the rich Fervor of his rising Rage
Prevail'd o'er all th' Infirmities of Age;
And, unimpair'd by Injuries of Time,
Enjoy'd the Bloom of a perpetual Prime:
His Fire not less, he more correctly writ,
With ripen'd Judgment and digested Wit,
Yet shortly shall the Fascination break,
And BRITONS from their heavy Trance awake,
Exert themselves, and recognize thy Name,
With Honours due, and renovated Fame;
They MEMORY IMMORTAL shall revere,
With copious Praise and Gratitude sincere,
And hold this Say of their DELIV'RER dear.
[Miscellanies in Verse and Prose (1737) 95-97]