Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Spoken on the First Day of the Kings House acting after the Fire
SO 1 shipwrackt Passengers escape to Land,
So look they, when on the bare Beach they stand,
Dropping and cold, and their first fear scarce o’er,
Expecting Famine on 2 a Desart Shore.
From that hard Climate we must wait for Bread,        5
Whence ev’n the Natives, forc’d by hunger, fled.
Our Stage does humane Chance present to view.
But ne’er before was seen so sadly true:
You are chang’d too, and your Pretence to see
Is but a Nobler Name for 3 Charity.        10
Your own Provisions furnish out our Feasts,
While you, the Founders, make your selves the guests.
Of all Mankind beside Fate had some Care,
But for poor Wit no portion did prepare;
’Tis left a Rent Charge to the Brave and Fair.        15
You cherish’d it, and now its Fall you mourn,
Which blind unmanner’d Zelots make their scorn,
Who think that Fire a Judgment on the Stage,
Which spar’d not Temples in its furious Rage.
But as our new-built City rises higher,        20
So from old Theatres may new aspire,
Since Fate contrives Magnificence by Fire.
Our great Metropolis does far surpass
Whate’er is now, and equals all that was:
Our Wit as far does Foreign Wit excel,        25
And, like a King, shou’d in a Palace dwell.
But we with Golden Hopes are vainly fed,
Talk high, and entertain you in a shed:
Your Presence here (for which we humbly sue)
Will grace Old Theatres, and build up New.        30
Note 1. Text from the Miscellanies of 1692. Variants from Covent Garden Drollery, 1672. [back]
Note 2. on] from 1672. [back]
Note 3. for] of 1672. [back]

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