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POEMS

ON

SEVERAL OCCASIONS.

9

TO MR. DRYDEN.

[This copy of verses was first published in 1693, when our author had not attained his 23rd year. Although the first thing of his that appeared in English, it attracted considerable notice; but he had already been distinguished for his skill in Latin versification. Dryden was now in his 63rd year, and, having lost his places and pension by the revolution, was obliged to write for bread. Allusion seems to be made to these circumstances in the third and following lines.]

HOW long, great poet! shall thy sacred lays
Provoke our wonder, and transcend our praise!
Can neither injuries of time, or age,

Damp thy poetic heat, and quench thy rage?

Not so thy Ovid in his exile wrote,

Grief chill'd his breast, and check'd his rising thought;
Pensive and sad, his drooping muse betrays

The Roman genius in its last decays.

Prevailing warmth has still thy mind possest,
And second youth is kindled in thy breast;
Thou mak'st the beauties of the Romans known,
And England boasts of riches not her own;
Thy lines have heighten'd Virgil's majesty,
And Horace wonders at himself in thee.
Thou teachest Persius to inform our isle
In smoother numbers, and a clearer style;

VOL. I.

B 2

And Juvenal, instructed in thy page,
Edges his satire, and improves his rage.
Thy copy casts a fairer light on all,
And still outshines the bright original.

Now Ovid boasts th' advantage of thy song,
And tells his story in the British tongue;
Thy charming verse, and fair translations, show
How thy own laurel first began to grow:

How wild Lycaon, chang'd by angry gods,

And frighted at himself, ran howling through the woods. O may'st thou still the noble task prolong,

Nor age nor sickness interrupt thy song:

Then may we wond'ring read, how human limbs
Have water'd kingdoms, and dissolv'd in streams;
Of those rich fruits that on the fertile mould
Turn'd yellow by degrees, and ripen'd into gold:
How some in feathers, or a ragged hide,

Have liv'd a second life, and different natures tried.
Then will thy Cvid, thus transform'd, reveal

A nobler change than he himself can tell.

Magd. Coll. Oxon.

June 2, 1693.

POEM TO HIS MAJESTY.

PRESENTED TO THE LORD KEEPFR.

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