Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue to his Royal Highness upon his first appearance at the Duke’s Theatre since his Return from Scotland
IN 1 those cold Regions which no Summers chear,
When 2 brooding darkness covers half the year,
To hollow Caves the shivering Natives go,
Bears range abroad and hunt in tracks of Snow;
But when the tedious Twilight wears away        5
And Stars grow paler at the approach of Day,
The longing crowds to frozen Mountains run,
Happy who first can see the glimmering Sun;
The surly Salvage Off-spring disappear;
And curse the bright Successor of the Year.        10
Yet though rough Bears in covert seek defence,
White Foxes stay with seeming Innocence;
That crafty kind with day-light can dispense.
Still we are throng’d so full with Reynard’s race
That Loyal Subjects scarce can find a place:        15
Thus modest Truth is cast behind the Crowd,
Truth speaks too Low, Hypocrisie too Loud.
Let them be first to flatter in success;
Duty can stay, but Guilt has need to press.
Once, when true Zeal the Sons of God did call,        20
To make their solemn show at Heaven’s White-hall,
The fawning Devil appear’d among the rest
And made as good a Courtier as the best.
The friends of Job, who rail’d at him before,
Came Cap in hand when he had three times more.        25
Yet, late Repentance may perhaps be true;
Kings can forgive, if Rebels can but sue.
A Tyrant’s Pow’r in rigour is exprest:
The Father yearns in the true Prince’s breast.
We grant an Ore’grown Whig no grace can mend,        30
But most are Babes that know not they offend.
The Crowd, to restless motion still enclin’d,
Are clouds that rack 3 according to the wind.
Driv’n by their Chiefs, they storms of Hail-stones pour,
Then mourn, and soften to a silent showre.        35
O welcome to this much offending land
The Prince that brings forgiveness in his hand!
Thus Angels on glad messages appear;
Their first Salute commands us not to fear:
Thus Heav’n, that cou’d constrain us to obey,        40
(With rev’rence if we might presume to say,)
Seems to relax the rights of Sov’reign sway,
Permits to Man the choice of Good and Ill,
And makes us Happy by our own Free-will.
Note 1. 1682. [back]
Note 2. When] Editors till Christie give Where. [back]
Note 3. rack] Editors till Christie give tack. [back]

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