Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
Extract from the Essay on Translated Verse
By Wentworth Dillon, Earl of Roscommon (1633?–1685)
ON sure foundations let your fabric rise,
And with attractive majesty surprise;
Not by affected, meretricious arts,
But strict harmonious symmetry of parts,
Which through the whole insensibly must pass,        5
With vital heat to animate the mass;
A pure, an active, an auspicious flame,
And bright as heaven, from whence the blessing came;
But few, few spirits, pre-ordained by fate,
The race of gods, have reached that envied height;        10
No rebel Titan’s sacrilegious crime,
By heaping hills on hills, can thither climb.
The grizly ferry-man of hell denied
Æneas entrance, till he knew his guide;
How justly then will impious mortals fall,        15
Whose pride would soar to heaven without a call?
Pride, of all others the most dangerous fault,
Proceeds from want of sense, or want of thought;
The men who labour and digest things most
Will be much apter to despond than boast;        20
For if your author be profoundly good,
’Twill cost you dear before he ’s understood.
How many ages since has Virgil writ?
How few are they who understand him yet?
Approach his altars with religious fear,        25
No vulgar deity inhabits there;
Heav’n shakes not more at Jove’s imperial nod,
Than poets should before their Mantuan god.
Hail, mighty Maro! may that sacred name
Kindle my breast with thy celestial flame;        30
Sublime ideas and apt words infuse,
The Muse instruct my voice, and thou inspire the Muse!

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