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JOHN DRYDEN

FROM

HEROIC STANZAS

CONSECRATED TO THE MEMORY OF HIS HIGHNESS, OLIVER, LATE LORD PROTECTOR OF THIS COMMONWEALTH

His grandeur he derived from Heav'n alone,

For he was great ere Fortune made him so;
And wars, like mists that rise against the sun,

Made him but greater seem, not greater grow.

No borrowed bays his temples did adorn,

But to our crown he did fresh jewels bring;
Nor was his virtue poisoned, soon as born,

With the too early thoughts of being king.

Fortune, that easy mistress of the young,

But to her ancient servants coy and hard,
Him at that age her favourites ranked among
When she her best-loved Pompey did discard.

He, private, marked the faults of others' sway,
And set as sea-marks for himself to shun;
Not like rash monarchs, who their youth betray
By acts their age too late would wish undone.

And yet dominion was not his design;

We owe that blessing not to him but Heav'n,
Which to fair acts unsought rewards did join,

Rewards that less to him than us were giv'n.

Our former chiefs, like sticklers of the war,
First sought t' inflame the parties, then to poise;
The quarrel loved, but did the cause abhor,

And did not strike to hurt but make a noise.

War, our consumption, was their gainful trade;

We inward bled, whilst they prolonged our pain:
He fought to end our fighting, and assayed

To stanch the blood by breathing of the vein.

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Swift and resistless through the land he passed,
Like that bold Greek who did the East subdue,
And made to battles such heroic haste

As if on wings of victory he flew.

He fought, secure of fortune as of fame,
Till by new maps the island might be shown
Of conquests, which he strewed where'er he came,
Thick as the galaxy with stars is sown.

1758.

FROM

1759.

ASTREA REDUX

A POEM ON THE HAPPY RESTORATION AND RETURN OF HIS
MAJESTY CHARLES THE SECOND

For his long absence Church and State did groan;
Madness the pulpit, faction seized the throne.
Experienced age in deep despair was lost,
To see the rebel thrive, the loyal crossed:
Youth, that with joys had unacquainted been,
Envied gray hairs that once good days had seen;
We thought our sires, not with their own content,
Had, ere we came to age, our portion spent.
Nor could our nobles hope their bold attempt,
Who ruined crowns, would coronets exempt:
For when, by their designing leaders taught
To strike at pow'r which for themselves they sought,
The vulgar, gulled into rebellion, armed,
Their blood to action by the prize was warmed;
The sacred purple then and scarlet gown,

Like sanguine dye to elephants, was shown.

Thus when the bold Typhoeus scaled the sky,
And forced great Jove from his own heav'n to fly
(What king, what crown, from treason's reach is free,
If Jove and heav'n can violated be?),

The lesser gods, that shared his prosp'rous state,
All suffered in the exiled Thund'rer's fate.
The rabble now such freedom did enjoy
As winds at sea, that use it to destroy:

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SACRED

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Blind as the Cyclops, and as wild as he,
They owned a lawless, savage liberty,
Like that our painted ancestors so prized
Ere empire's arts their breasts had civilised.

How great were then our Charles his woes, who thus
Was forced to suffer for himself and us!
He, tossed by fate, and hurried up and down,
Heir to his father's sorrows with his crown,
Could taste no sweets of youth's desired age,
But found his life too true a pilgrimage.
Unconquered yet in that forlorn estate,
His manly courage overcame his fate.
His wounds he took, like Romans, on his breast,
Which by his virtue were with laurels drest.
As souls reach heav'n while yet in bodies pent,
So did he live above his banishment.

1660.

1660.

INCANTATION

You twice ten hundred deities,
To whom we daily sacrifice;

You powers that dwell with Fate below,
And see what men are doomed to do,
Where elements in discord dwell;
Thou god of sleep, arise and tell
Great Zempoalla what strange fate
Must on her dismal vision wait!
By the croaking of the toad,
In their caves that make abode,
Earthy, dun, that pants for breath,
With her swelled sides full of death;
By the crested adders' pride,
That along the clifts do glide;
By thy visage fierce and black;
By the death's head on thy back;
By the twisted serpents placed
For a girdle round thy waist;

By the hearts of gold that deck
Thy breast, thy shoulders, and thy neck;

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From thy sleepy mansion rise,

And open thy unwilling eyes,

While bubbling springs their music keep,
That use to lull thee in thy sleep.

SONG

I feed a flame within, which so torments me
That it both pains my heart and yet contents me;
'Tis such a pleasing smart, and I so love it,
That I had rather die than once remove it.

Yet he for whom I grieve shall never know it;
My tongue does not betray, nor my eyes show it:
Not a sigh nor a tear my pain discloses,
But they fall silently, like dew on roses.

1664.

Thus, to prevent my love from being cruel,
My heart's the sacrifice, as 't is the fuel;
And while I suffer this to give him quiet,
My faith rewards my love, though he deny it.

On his eyes will I gaze, and there delight me;
While I conceal my love, no frown can fright me:
To be more happy I dare not aspire,
Nor can I fall more low, mounting no higher.

FROM

ANNUS MIRABILIS

THE WAR WITH HOLLAND

1667.

And now, reduced on equal terms to fight,

Their ships like wasted patrimonies show, Where the thin scatt'ring trees admit the light And shun each other's shadows as they grow.

The warlike Prince had severed from the rest
Two giant ships, the pride of all the main;
Which with his one so vigorously he pressed,

And flew so home, they could not rise again.

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Already battered by his lee they lay;

In vain upon the passing winds they call;
The passing winds through their torn canvas play,
And flagging sails on heartless sailors fall.

Their opened sides receive a gloomy light,

Dreadful as day let in to shades below; Without, grim Death rides barefaced in their sight, And urges ent'ring billows as they flow:

When one dire shot, the last they could supply,
Close by the board the Prince's mainmast bore;
All three now helpless by each other lie,

And this offends not and those fear no more.

So have I seen some fearful hare maintain

A course, till tired before the dog she lay, Who, stretched behind her, pants upon the plain, Past pow'r to kill, as she to get away:

With his lolled tongue he faintly licks his prey;

His warm breath blows her flix up as she lies;
She, trembling, creeps upon the ground away,
And looks back to him with beseeching eyes.

1667.

1666.

THE GREAT LONDON FIRE

The diligence of trades, and noiseful gain,
And luxury, more late, asleep were laid;
All was the Night's, and in her silent reign
No sound the rest of Nature did invade.

In this deep quiet, from what source unknown,
Those seeds of fire their fatal birth disclose;
And, first, few scatt'ring sparks about were blown,
Big with the flames that to our ruin rose.

Then in some close-pent room it crept along,

And, smould'ring as it went, in silence fed; Till th' infant monster, with devouring strong, Walked boldly upright with exalted head.

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