Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Third Prologue to the University of Oxford
THO’ 1 Actors cannot much of Learning boast,
Of all who want it, we admire it most:
We love the Praises of a learned Pit,
As we remotely are ally’d to Wit.
We speak our Poet’s Wit, and trade in Ore,        5
Like those who touch upon the Golden Shore;
Betwixt our Judges can distinction make,
Discern how much and why our Poems take;
Mark if the Fools, or Men of Sense, rejoice;
Whether th’ Applause be only Sound or Voice.        10
When our Fop Gallants, or our City Folly,
Clap over-loud, it makes us melancholy:
We doubt that Scene which does their wonder raise,
And for their Ignorance contemn their Praise.
Judge then, if we who act and they who write        15
Shou’d not be proud of giving you delight.
London likes grosly; but this nicer Pit
Examines, fathoms, all the Depths of Wit;
The ready Finger lays on every Blot;
Knows what shou’d justly please, and what shou’d not.        20
Nature her self lyes open to your view,
You judge by her what draught of her is true,
Where Out-lines false, and Colours seem too faint,
Where Bunglers dawb, and where true Poets Paint.
But by the sacred Genius of this Place,        25
By every Muse, by each Domestick Grace,
Be kind to Wit, which but endeavours well,
And, where you judge, presumes not to excel.
Our Poets hither for Adoption come,
As Nations su’d to be made free of Rome:        30
Not in the suffragating Tribes to stand,
But in your utmost, last, Provincial Band.
If his Ambition may those Hopes pursue,
Who with Religion loves your Arts and you,
Oxford to him a dearer Name shall be,        35
Than his own Mother University.
Thebes did his green unknowing Youth ingage,
He chuses Athens in his riper Age.
Note 1. Text from the Miscellanies of 1684. [back]

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