Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue and Epilogue to Sir Martin Mar-all, or the Feigned Innocence
FOOLS, 1 which each man meets in his Dish each Day,
Are yet the great Regalio’s of a Play;
In which to Poets you but just appear,
To prize that highest which cost them so dear:
Fops in the Town more easily will pass;        5
One story makes a statutable Ass;
But such in Plays must be much thicker sown,
Like yolks of Eggs, a dozen beat to one.
Observing Poets all their walks invade,
As men watch Woodcocks gliding through a Glade:        10
And when they have enough for Comedy,
They stow their several Bodies in a Pye:
The Poet’s but the Cook to fashion it,
For, Gallants, you yourselves have found the Wit.
To bid you welcome would your bounty wrong;        15
None welcome those who bring their Chear along.
As country Vicars, when the Sermon’s done,
Run hudling 2 to the Benediction;
Well knowing, though the better sort may stay,
The Vulgar Rout will run unblesst away:        20
So we, when once our Play is done, make haste
With a short Epilogue to close your taste.
In thus withdrawing, we seem mannerly;
But, when the Curtain’s down we peep and see
A Jury of the Wits, who still stay late,        25
And in their Club decree the poor Plays fate;
Their Verdict back is to the Boxes brought,
Thence all the Town pronounces it their thought.
Thus, Gallants, we like Lilly can foresee;
But if you ask us what our doom will be,        30
We by to morrow will our Fortune cast,
As he tells all things when the Year is past.
Note 1. Text from the original edition of 1667. [back]
Note 2. hudling] Scott gives headlong. [back]

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