Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
From Aulus Persius Flaccus: Prologue to the First Satyr
        Sæpius in Libro memoratur Persius uno
  Quam levis in tota Marsus Amazonide.

Argument of the Prologue to the First Satyr
  The Design of the Authour was to conceal his Name and Quality. He liv’d in the dangerous Times of the Tyrant Nero; and aims particularly at him, in most of his Satyrs. For which Reason, though he was a Roman Knight, and of a plentiful Fortune, he would appear in this Prologue but a Beggarly Poet, who Writes for Bread. After this, he breaks into the Business of the first Satyr; which is chiefly to decry the Poetry then in Fashion, and the Impudence of those who were endeavouring to pass their Stuff upon the World.

Prologue to the First Satyr

I NEVER 1 did on cleft Pernassus dream,
Nor taste the sacred Heliconian 2 Stream;
Nor can remember when my Brain inspir’d,
Was, by the Muses, into madness fir’d.
My share in Pale Pyrene 3 I resign;
And claim no part in all the Mighty Nine.        5
Statues, 4 with winding Ivy crown’d, belong
To nobler Poets, for a nobler Song:
Heedless of Verse, and hopeless of the Crown,
Scarce half a Wit, and more than half a Clown,
Before the Shrine 5 I lay my rugged Numbers down.        10
Who taught the Parrot Human Notes to try,
Or with a Voice endu’d the chatt’ring Pye?
’Twas witty Want, fierce Hunger to appease:
Want taught their Masters, and their Masters these.
Let Gain, that gilded Bait, be hung on high,        15
The hungry Witlings have it in their Eye;
Pies, Crows, and Daws, Poetick Presents bring:
You say they squeak; but they will swear they Sing.
Note 1. Text from the original edition, 1693. The current texts have divers errors, the worst in V. 11. [back]
Note 2. Pernassus, and Helicon, were Hills Consecrated to the Muses; and the suppos’d place of their abode. Pernassus was forked on the top; and from Helicon ran a Stream; the Spring of which was call’d the Muses Well. [back]
Note 3. Pyrene, a Fountain in Corinth; Consecrated also to the Muses. [back]
Note 4. Statues, &c. The Statues of the Poets were Crown’d with Ivy about their Brows. [back]
Note 5. Before the Shrine; that is, before the Shrine of Apollo, in his Temple at Rome, call’d the Palatine. [back]

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