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Thread: John Dryden

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    John Dryden

    I don't think he's famous around here (the forum ). I recently read his name in this book about history of English Literature and somehow got interested with this Jonathan Swift's cousin. I think he wrote some interesting poems. I post some of my favs here, and you can also check his complete works here


    Ah, how sweet it is to love!

    Ah, how sweet it is to love!
    Ah, how gay is young Desire!
    And what pleasing pains we prove
    When we first approach Love's fire!
    Pains of love be sweeter far
    Than all other pleasures are.

    Sighs which are from lovers blown
    Do but gently heave the heart:
    Ev'n the tears they shed alone
    Cure, like trickling balm, their smart:
    Lovers, when they lose their breath,
    Bleed away in easy death.

    Love and Time with reverence use,
    Treat them like a parting friend;
    Nor the golden gifts refuse
    Which in youth sincere they send:
    For each year their price is more,
    And they less simple than before.

    Love, like spring-tides full and high,
    Swells in every youthful vein;
    But each tide does less supply,
    Till they quite shrink in again:
    If a flow in age appear,
    'Tis but rain, and runs not clear.




    Happy the man

    Happy the man, and happy he alone,
    He who can call today his own:
    He who, secure within, can say,
    Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
    Be fair or foul or rain or shine
    The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
    Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
    But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.




    Why should a foolish marriage vow

    Why should a foolish marriage vow,
    Which long ago was made,
    Oblige us to each other now
    When passion is decay'd?
    We lov'd, and we lov'd, as long as we could,
    Till our love was lov'd out in us both:
    But our marriage is dead, when the pleasure is fled:
    'Twas pleasure first made it an oath.

    If I have pleasures for a friend,
    And farther love in store,
    What wrong has he whose joys did end,
    And who could give no more?
    'Tis a madness that he should be jealous of me,
    Or that I should bar him of another:
    For all we can gain is to give our selves pain,
    When neither can hinder the other.


    "there are people in the world so hungry that God can not appear to them except in the form of bread"

    Mahatma Gandhi

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    Quote Originally Posted by subterranean
    Ah, how sweet it is to love! . . .

    Happy the man . . .
    Ah, two of my favorites by Dryden! Unfortunately, I have not read as much of his work as I would like, but it will come in good time, I think. His work, to me also, seems neglected among many of his contemporaries in earlier poetry, though his passion and powerful words equal or exceed other poets of his time.
    Another one of my favorites:

    Song To A Fair Young Lady Going Out Of Town In the Spring

    Ask not the cause why sullen spring
    So long delays her flow'rs to bear;
    Why warbling birds forget to sing,
    And winter storms invert the year?
    Chloris is gone; and Fate provides
    To make it spring where she resides.

    Chloris is gone, the cruel fair;
    She cast not back a pitying eye:
    But left her lover in despair,
    To sigh, to languish, and to die:
    Ah, how can those fair eyes endure
    To give the wounds they will not cure!

    Great god of Love, why hast thou made
    A face that can all hearts command,
    That all religions can invade,
    And change the laws of ev'ry land?
    Where thou hadst plac'd such pow'r before,
    Thou shouldst have made her mercy more.

    When Chloris to the temple comes,
    Adoring crowds before her fall;
    She can restore the dead from tombs,
    And ev'ry life but mine recall.
    I only am by love design'd
    To be the victim for mankind.

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    a tribute to poetry geetanjali's Avatar
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    Can u help me with MacFlecknoe & Alexanders Feast both by Dryden
    God is supreme absolute truth

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    can i know if u will help
    God is supreme absolute truth

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    Hi Gee, I dont know what you mean with "help", but here are the 2 poems:


    Alexander's Feast

    'Twas at the royal feast for Persia won
    By Philip's warlike son—
    Aloft in awful state
    The godlike hero sate
    On his imperial throne;
    His valiant peers were placed around,
    Their brows with roses and with myrtles bound
    (So should desert in arms be crowned);
    The lovely Thais by his side
    Sate like a blooming eastern bride
    In flower of youth and beauty's pride:—
    Happy, happy, happy pair!
    None but the brave
    None but the brave
    None but the brave deserves the fair!

    Timotheus placed on high
    Amid the tuneful quire
    With flying fingers touched the lyre;
    The trembling notes ascend the sky
    And heavenly joys inspire.
    The song began from Jove
    Who left his blissful seats above—
    Such is the power of mighty love!
    A dragon's fiery form belied the god
    Sublime on radiant spires he rode
    When he to fair Olympia prest,
    And while he sought her snowy breast,
    Then round her slender waist he curled,
    And stamped an image of himself, a sovereign of the world.
    - The listening crowd admire the lofty sound!
    A present deity! they shout around:
    A present deity! the vaulted roofs rebound!
    With ravished ears
    The monarch hears,
    Assumes the god,
    Affects to nod,
    And seems to shake the spheres.

    The praise of Bacchus then the sweet musician sung,
    Of Bacchus ever fair and ever young:
    The jolly god in triumph comes!
    Sound the trumpets, beat the drums!
    Flushed with a purple grace
    He shows his honest face:
    Now give the hautboys breath; he comes, he comes!
    Bacchus, ever fair and young,
    Drinking joys did first ordain;
    Bacchus' blessings are a treasure,
    Drinking is the soldier's pleasure:
    Rich the treasure,
    Sweet the pleasure,
    Sweet is pleasure after pain.

    Soothed with the sound, the king grew vain;
    Fought all his battles o'er again,
    And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew the slain.
    The master saw the madness rise,
    His glowing cheeks, his ardent eyes;
    And while he Heaven and Earth defied
    Changed his hand and checked his pride.
    He chose a mournful Muse
    Soft pity to infuse:
    He sung Darius great and good,
    By too severe a fate
    Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
    Fallen from his high estate,
    And weltering in his blood;
    Deserted, at his utmost need,
    By those his former bounty fed;
    On the bare earth exposed he lies
    With not a friend to close his eyes.
    - With downcast looks the joyless victor sate,
    Revolving in his altered soul
    The various turns of Chance below;
    And now and then a sigh he stole,
    And tears began to flow.

    The mighty master smiled to see
    That love was in the next degree;
    'Twas but a kindred-sound to move,
    For pity melts the mind to love.
    Softly sweet, in Lydian measures
    Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures.
    War, he sung, is toil and trouble,
    Honour but an empty bubble;
    Never ending, still beginning,
    Fighting still, and still destroying;
    If the world be worth thy winning,
    Think, O think, it worth enjoying:
    Lovely Thais sits beside thee,
    Take the good the gods provide thee!
    - The many rend the skies with loud applause;
    So Love was crowned, but Music won the cause.
    The prince, unable to conceal his pain,
    Gazed on the fair
    Who caused his care,
    And sighed and looked, sighed and looked,
    Sighed and looked, and sighed again:
    At length with love and wine at once opprest
    The vanquished victor sunk upon her breast.

    Now strike the golden lyre again:
    A louder yet, and yet a louder strain!
    Break his bands of sleep asunder

    And rouse him like a rattling peal of thunder.
    Hark, hark! the horrid sound
    Has raised up his head:
    As awaked from the dead
    And amazed he stares around.
    Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries,
    See the Furies arisel
    See the snakes that they rear
    How they hiss in their hair,
    And the sparkles that flash from their eyes!
    Behold a ghastly band,
    Each a torch in his hand!
    Those are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain
    And unburied remain
    Inglorious on the plain:
    Give the vengeance due
    To the valiant crew!
    Behold how they toss their torches on high,
    How they point to the Persian abodes
    And glittering temples of their hostile gods.
    - The princes applaud with a furious joy:
    And the King seized a flambeau with zeal to destroy;
    Thais led the way
    To light him to his prey,
    And like another Helen, fired another Troy!

    - Thus, long ago,
    Ere heaving bellows learned to blow,
    While organs yet were mute,
    Timotheus, to his breathing flute
    And sounding lyre,
    Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire.
    At last divine Cecilia came,
    Inventress of the vocal frame;
    The sweet enthusiast from her sacred store
    Enlarged the former narrow bounds,
    And added length to solemn sounds,
    With Nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown before.
    - Let old Timotheus yield the prize
    Or both divide the crown;
    He raised a mortal to the skies;
    She drew an angel down!


    "there are people in the world so hungry that God can not appear to them except in the form of bread"

    Mahatma Gandhi

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    Mac Flecknoe

    All human things are subject to decay,
    And, when Fate summons, monarchs must obey:
    This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young
    Was call'd to empire, and had govern'd long:
    In prose and verse, was own'd, without dispute
    Through all the realms of Non-sense, absolute.
    This aged prince now flourishing in peace,
    And blest with issue of a large increase,
    Worn out with business, did at length debate
    To settle the succession of the State:
    And pond'ring which of all his sons was fit
    To reign, and wage immortal war with wit;
    Cry'd, 'tis resolv'd; for nature pleads that he
    Should only rule, who most resembles me:
    Shadwell alone my perfect image bears,
    Mature in dullness from his tender years.
    Shadwell alone, of all my sons, is he
    Who stands confirm'd in full stupidity.
    The rest to some faint meaning make pretence,
    But Shadwell never deviates into sense.
    Some beams of wit on other souls may fall,
    Strike through and make a lucid interval;
    But Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray,
    His rising fogs prevail upon the day:
    Besides his goodly fabric fills the eye,
    And seems design'd for thoughtless majesty:
    Thoughtless as monarch oaks, that shade the plain,
    And, spread in solemn state, supinely reign.
    Heywood and Shirley were but types of thee,
    Thou last great prophet of tautology:
    Even I, a dunce of more renown than they,
    Was sent before but to prepare thy way;
    And coarsely clad in Norwich drugget came
    To teach the nations in thy greater name.
    My warbling lute, the lute I whilom strung
    When to King John of Portugal I sung,
    Was but the prelude to that glorious day,
    When thou on silver Thames did'st cut thy way,
    With well tim'd oars before the royal barge,
    Swell'd with the pride of thy celestial charge;
    And big with hymn, commander of an host,
    The like was ne'er in Epsom blankets toss'd.
    Methinks I see the new Arion sail,
    The lute still trembling underneath thy nail.
    At thy well sharpen'd thumb from shore to shore
    The treble squeaks for fear, the basses roar:
    Echoes from Pissing-Alley, Shadwell call,
    And Shadwell they resound from Aston Hall.
    About thy boat the little fishes throng,
    As at the morning toast, that floats along.
    Sometimes as prince of thy harmonious band
    Thou wield'st thy papers in thy threshing hand.
    St. Andre's feet ne'er kept more equal time,
    Not ev'n the feet of thy own Psyche's rhyme:
    Though they in number as in sense excel;
    So just, so like tautology they fell,
    That, pale with envy, Singleton forswore
    The lute and sword which he in triumph bore
    And vow'd he ne'er would act Villerius more.
    Here stopt the good old sire; and wept for joy
    In silent raptures of the hopeful boy.
    All arguments, but most his plays, persuade,
    That for anointed dullness he was made.

    Close to the walls which fair Augusta bind,
    (The fair Augusta much to fears inclin'd)
    An ancient fabric, rais'd t'inform the sight,
    There stood of yore, and Barbican it hight:
    A watch tower once; but now, so fate ordains,
    Of all the pile an empty name remains.
    From its old ruins brothel-houses rise,
    Scenes of lewd loves, and of polluted joys.
    Where their vast courts, the mother-strumpets keep,
    And, undisturb'd by watch, in silence sleep.
    Near these a nursery erects its head,
    Where queens are form'd, and future heroes bred;
    Where unfledg'd actors learn to laugh and cry,
    Where infant punks their tender voices try,
    And little Maximins the gods defy.
    Great Fletcher never treads in buskins here,
    Nor greater Jonson dares in socks appear;
    But gentle Simkin just reception finds
    Amidst this monument of vanish'd minds:
    Pure clinches, the suburbian muse affords;
    And Panton waging harmless war with words.
    Here Flecknoe, as a place to fame well known,
    Ambitiously design'd his Shadwell's throne.
    For ancient Decker prophesi'd long since,
    That in this pile should reign a mighty prince,
    Born for a scourge of wit, and flail of sense:
    To whom true dullness should some Psyches owe,
    But worlds of Misers from his pen should flow;
    Humorists and hypocrites it should produce,
    Whole Raymond families, and tribes of Bruce.

    Now Empress Fame had publisht the renown,
    Of Shadwell's coronation through the town.
    Rous'd by report of fame, the nations meet,
    From near Bun-Hill, and distant Watling-street.
    No Persian carpets spread th'imperial way,
    But scatter'd limbs of mangled poets lay:
    From dusty shops neglected authors come,
    Martyrs of pies, and reliques of the bum.
    Much Heywood, Shirley, Ogleby there lay,
    But loads of Shadwell almost chok'd the way.
    Bilk'd stationers for yeoman stood prepar'd,
    And Herringman was Captain of the Guard.
    The hoary prince in majesty appear'd,
    High on a throne of his own labours rear'd.
    At his right hand our young Ascanius sat
    Rome's other hope, and pillar of the state.
    His brows thick fogs, instead of glories, grace,
    And lambent dullness play'd around his face.
    As Hannibal did to the altars come,
    Sworn by his sire a mortal foe to Rome;
    So Shadwell swore, nor should his vow be vain,
    That he till death true dullness would maintain;
    And in his father's right, and realm's defence,
    Ne'er to have peace with wit, nor truce with sense.
    The king himself the sacred unction made,
    As king by office, and as priest by trade:
    In his sinister hand, instead of ball,
    He plac'd a mighty mug of potent ale;
    Love's kingdom to his right he did convey,
    At once his sceptre and his rule of sway;
    Whose righteous lore the prince had practis'd young,
    And from whose loins recorded Psyche sprung,
    His temples last with poppies were o'er spread,
    That nodding seem'd to consecrate his head:
    Just at that point of time, if fame not lie,
    On his left hand twelve reverend owls did fly.
    So Romulus, 'tis sung, by Tiber's brook,
    Presage of sway from twice six vultures took.
    Th'admiring throng loud acclamations make,
    And omens of his future empire take.
    The sire then shook the honours of his head,
    And from his brows damps of oblivion shed
    Full on the filial dullness: long he stood,
    Repelling from his breast the raging god;
    At length burst out in this prophetic mood:

    Heavens bless my son, from Ireland let him reign
    To far Barbadoes on the Western main;
    Of his dominion may no end be known,
    And greater than his father's be his throne.
    Beyond love's kingdom let him stretch his pen;
    He paus'd, and all the people cry'd Amen.
    Then thus, continu'd he, my son advance
    Still in new impudence, new ignorance.
    Success let other teach, learn thou from me
    Pangs without birth, and fruitless industry.
    Let Virtuosos in five years be writ;
    Yet not one thought accuse thy toil of wit.
    Let gentle George in triumph tread the stage,
    Make Dorimant betray, and Loveit rage;
    Let Cully, Cockwood, Fopling, charm the pit,
    And in their folly show the writer's wit.
    Yet still thy fools shall stand in thy defence,
    And justify their author's want of sense.
    Let 'em be all by thy own model made
    Of dullness, and desire no foreign aid:
    That they to future ages may be known,
    Not copies drawn, but issue of thy own.
    Nay let thy men of wit too be the same,
    All full of thee, and differing but in name;
    But let no alien Sedley interpose
    To lard with wit thy hungry Epsom prose.
    And when false flowers of rhetoric thou would'st cull,
    Trust Nature, do not labour to be dull;
    But write thy best, and top; and in each line,
    Sir Formal's oratory will be thine.
    Sir Formal, though unsought, attends thy quill,
    And does thy Northern Dedications fill.
    Nor let false friends seduce thy mind to fame,
    By arrogating Jonson's hostile name.
    Let Father Flecknoe fire thy mind with praise,
    And Uncle Ogleby thy envy raise.
    Thou art my blood, where Jonson has no part;
    What share have we in Nature or in Art?
    Where did his wit on learning fix a brand,
    And rail at arts he did not understand?
    Where made he love in Prince Nicander's vein,
    Or swept the dust in Psyche's humble strain?
    Where sold he bargains, whip-stitch, kiss my arse,
    Promis'd a play and dwindled to a farce?
    When did his muse from Fletcher scenes purloin,
    As thou whole Eth'ridge dost transfuse to thine?
    But so transfus'd as oil on waters flow,
    His always floats above, thine sinks below.
    This is thy province, this thy wondrous way,
    New humours to invent for each new play:
    This is that boasted bias of thy mind,
    By which one way, to dullness, 'tis inclin'd,
    Which makes thy writings lean on one side still,
    And in all changes that way bends thy will.
    Nor let thy mountain belly make pretence
    Of likeness; thine's a tympany of sense.
    A tun of man in thy large bulk is writ,
    But sure thou 'rt but a kilderkin of wit.
    Like mine thy gentle numbers feebly creep,
    Thy Tragic Muse gives smiles, thy Comic sleep.
    With whate'er gall thou sett'st thy self to write,
    Thy inoffensive satires never bite.
    In thy felonious heart, though venom lies,
    It does but touch thy Irish pen, and dies.
    Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame
    In keen iambics, but mild anagram:
    Leave writing plays, and choose for thy command
    Some peaceful province in acrostic land.
    There thou may'st wings display and altars raise,
    And torture one poor word ten thousand ways.
    Or if thou would'st thy diff'rent talents suit,
    Set thy own songs, and sing them to thy lute.
    He said, but his last words were scarcely heard,
    For Bruce and Longvil had a trap prepar'd,
    And down they sent the yet declaiming bard.
    Sinking he left his drugget robe behind,
    Born upwards by a subterranean wind.
    The mantle fell to the young prophet's part,
    With double portion of his father's art.


    "there are people in the world so hungry that God can not appear to them except in the form of bread"

    Mahatma Gandhi

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    Quote Originally Posted by geetanjali
    Can u help me with MacFlecknoe & Alexanders Feast both by Dryden
    Of course, I can help. What do you need to know about them - summary, expression, mood, narration? Do you have to read it for school?
    Let me know, and I would feel glad to help.

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    precious... subterranean's Avatar
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    Aww Mono, you're too kind .

    I have read small reviews about Alexander's Feast and if I feel like helping, I'll post them and my opinion as well...


    "there are people in the world so hungry that God can not appear to them except in the form of bread"

    Mahatma Gandhi

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    a tribute to poetry geetanjali's Avatar
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    thanks for your kind concern. I need some modren english summary of these poems.I`ll be glad if you could guide me.
    God is supreme absolute truth

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    Quote Originally Posted by geetanjali
    thanks for your kind concern. I need some modren english summary of these poems.I`ll be glad if you could guide me.
    A summary sounds simple enough to do, I think.
    Before delving into "Alexander's Feast" I think it very necessary to allude to some of the references Dryden writes about: the "son of Philip" refers to Alexander the Great, himself (son of Philip II); the character Thais refers to an Athenian beauty and courtesan who, allegedly, so scholars think, possibly had a romantic relationship with Alexander the Great, and also with Ptolemais; Timotheus many contemporaries of the time considered a wonderful musician and architect (who helped construct the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus - one of the seven ancient wonders of the world); and Darius the Great refers to a very powerful and somewhat greedy ruler of ancient Persia.
    The whole of the poem tells more of setting than an actual story, I think. It begins that Alexander the Great has just conquered Persia, extending his reign, and celebrating his honor. Parts of the poem follow Alexander's train of thought during his celebration, as he thinks of all of the lands he has conquered, the many people who honor him, earning the love of Thais, as Timotheus plays the lyre, getting haunted by the many ghosts of soldiers he has slain. During his referred Bacchanal (a feast devoted to the ancient Greco-Roman god Dionysus/Bacchus), he also wonders if he has conquered all of these lands by chance or skill in most reasonable ways (as Aristotle taught him). In essence, understanding some of the older script, the poem reads relatively straight-forward.

    -----

    As long as a reader can read behind Dryden's older language, many of his poems seem quite easy to understand, in my opinion.
    "Mac Flecknoe" tells, I think, an allegorical type of story of a new monarch, Shadwell Flecknoe, who inherited his power from the previous monarch, his father. I consider this allegorical, knowing that Dryden himself did not think particularly highly of the government control during his years; Shadwell no doubt represents a monarch he particularly disliked, yet not knowing my history as I should, I do not know who in specific. To put the fact simply, however, Dryden considers him a fool with a strong wit, but no skills in ruling a country, and who only earned his ruling through genes of a father who also seemed unfit in ruling. This satire furthers itself with the announcer of Shadwell's monarchy, stating his foolishness to spread farther than his father's, for his stupidity to reign, and his injustice to thrive. Funny when you think of it.

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    hello i am a new litrature student how can i improve my litrature skills and i have a exam in a month of time but i would like to present my self in a better way, i dont know any one who is related to english litrature and i am glad to join this community thanks online litrature.com

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