Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Elegies and Epitaphs
On the Death of Mr. Purcell
MARK 1 how the Lark and Linnet sing,
        With rival Notes
  They strain their warbling Throats
    To welcome in the Spring.
    But in the close of night,        5
When Philomel begins her Heav’nly Lay, 2
  They cease their mutual spight,
  Drink in her Musick with delight,
And list’ning and silent, and silent and list’ning, and list’ning and silent obey. 3
So ceas’d the rival Crew, when Purcell came,
They Sung no more, or only Sung his Fame.
    Struck dumb, they all admir’d 4
      The godlike man,
    Alas, too soon retir’d,
      As He too late began.        15
We beg not Hell 5 our Orpheus to restore;
      Had He been there,
      Their Sovereigns fear
    Had sent Him back before.
The pow’r of Harmony too well they knew;        20
He long e’er this had Tun’d their jarring Sphere,
    And left no Hell below.
The Heav’nly Quire, who heard his Notes from high,
Let down the Scale of Musick from the Sky:
        They handed him along,        25
And all the way He taught, and all the way they Sung.
Ye Brethren of the Lyre and tunefull Voice,
Lament his lott: but at your own rejoyce.
Now live secure, and linger out your days,
The Gods are pleas’d alone with Purcell’s Layes, 6        30
    Nor know to mend their Choice.
Note 1. Text from the original of 1696. In the words printed with the music Dr. Blow impudently altered godlike into matchless and their jarring Sphere into the jarring Spheres. [back]
Note 2. Lay] lay 1696. [back]
Note 3. This line has never been correctly reprinted in England. Editors till Christie gave And list’ning silently obey. Christie professed to ‘restore’ the line, but by twice omitting the word and gave a wrong and uneuphonic line. Dr. Saintsbury copies Christie. [back]
Note 4. admir’d] admir’d the godlike man 1696. [back]
Note 5. Hell] Hell, 1696. [back]
Note 6. Layes] Layes 1696. [back]

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