15 February 2007

John Dryden

[from Dryden’s “Mac Flecknoe," ca 1680]

. . .
This agèd 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, pondering which of all his sons was fit
To reign, and wage immortal war with wit,
Cried: “ ’Tis resolved; for Nature pleads that he
Should only rule, who most resembles me.
Sh —— alone my perfect image bears,
Mature in dullness from his tender years:
Sh —— alone, of all my sons, is he
Who stands confirmed in full stupidity.
The rest to some faint meaning make pretense,
But Sh —— never deviates into sense.
Some beams of wit on other souls may fall,
Strike through, and make a lucid interval;
But Sh ——‘s genuine night admits no ray,
His rising fogs prevail upon the day.
Besides, his goodly fabric fills the eye,
And seems designed for thoughtless majesty:
Thoughtless as monarch oaks that shade the plain,
And, spread in solemn state, supinely reign.
. . .

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