John Dryden

(1631 - 1700 / England)

An Epilogue


You saw your wife was chaste, yet throughly tried,
And, without doubt, you are hugely edified;
For, like our hero, whom we showed to-day,
You think no woman true, but in a play.
Love once did make a pretty kind of show;
Esteem and kindness in one breast would grow;
But 'twas heaven knows how many years ago.
Now some small chat, and guinea expectation,
Gets all the pretty creatures in the nation.
In comedy your little selves you meet;
'Tis Covent Garden drawn in Bridges Street.
Smile on our author then, if he has shown
A jolly nut-brown bastard of your own.
Ah! happy you, with ease and with delight,
Who act those follies, poets toil to write!
The sweating Muse does almost leave the chase;
She puffs, and hardly keeps your Protean vices pace.
Pinch you but in one vice, away you fly
To some new frisk of contrariety.
You roll like snow-balls, gathering as you run,
And get seven devils, when dispossessed of one.
Your Venus once was a Platonic queen,
Nothing of love beside the face was seen;
But every inch of her you now uncase,
And clap a vizard-mask upon the face;
For sins like these, the zealous of the land,
With little hair, and little or no band,
Declare how circulating pestilences
Watch, every twenty years, to snap offences.
Saturn, e'en now, takes doctoral degrees;
He'll do your work this summer without fees.
Let all the boxes, Phœbus, find thy grace,
And, ah, preserve the eighteen-penny place!
But for the pit confounders, let them go,
And find as little mercy as they show!
The actors thus, and thus thy poets pray;
For every critic saved, thou damn'st a play.

Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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