Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue to The Unhappy Favourite
Spoken to the King and the Queen at Their Coming to the House

WHEN 1 first the Ark was landed on the Shore,
And Heav’n had vowed to curse the Ground no more,
When Tops of Hills the longing Patriark saw,
And the new Scene of Earth began to draw,
The Dove was sent to View the Waves Decrease,        5
And first brought back to Man the Pledge of Peace.
’Tis needless to apply, when those appear
Who bring the Olive, and who Plant it here.
We have before our Eyes the Royal Dove,
Still Innocence is Harbinger to Love.        10
The Ark is open’d to dismiss the Train,
And people with a better Race the Plain.
Tell me, you Pow’rs, why should vain Man pursue
With endless Toyl each object that is new,
And for the seeming Substance leave the true?        15
Why should he quit for Hopes his certain good,
And loath the Manna of his daily food?
Must England still the Scene of Changes be,
Tost and Tempestuous like our Ambient Sea?
Must still our Weather and our Wills agree?        20
Without our Blood our Liberties we have;
Who that is Free would fight to be a Slave?
Or what can Wars to after Times Assure,
Of which our Present Age is not secure?
All that our Monarch would for us Ordain        25
Is but t’ injoy the Blessings of his Reign.
Our Land’s an Eden and the Main’s our Fence,
While we preserve our State of Innocence:
That lost, then Beasts their Bruital Force employ,
And first their Lord and then themselves destroy.        30
What Civil Broils have cost we knew too well;
Oh! let it be enough that once we fell,
And every Heart conspire, with every Tongue,
Still to have such a King, and this King Long.
Note 1. 1682. Printed in the Miscellanie of 1684 and with the play, which is by Banks, in 1685. [back]

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