Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue to Circe
WERE 1 you but half so wise as you’re severe,
Our youthfull Poet shou’d not need to fear;
To his green years your Censures you would suit,
Not blast the Blossom, but expect the Fruit.
The Sex that best does pleasure understand        5
Will alwayes chuse to err on t’ other hand.
They check not him that’s aukard in delight,
But clap the young Rogues Cheek, and set him right.
Thus heartn’d well, and flesh’t upon his Prey,
The youth may prove a man another day.        10
Your Ben and Fletcher, in their first young flight,
Did no Volpone, no 2 Arbaces write;
But hopp’d about, and short Excursions made
From Bough to Bough, as if they were afraid,
And each were 3 guilty of some Slighted Maid.        15
Shakespear’s own Muse her Pericles first bore;
The Prince of Tyre was elder than the Moore.
’Tis miracle to see a first good Play;
All Hawthorns do not bloom on Christmas-day.
A slender Poet must have time to grow,        20
And spread and burnish as his Brothers do.
Who still looks lean, sure with some pox is curst,
But no Man can be Falstaff-fat at first,
Then damn not, but indulge his stew’d 4 Essays,
Encourage him, and bloat him up with Praise,        25
That he may get more bulk before he dies,
He’s not yet fed enough for Sacrifice.
Perhaps, if now your Grace you will not grudge,
He may grow up to write, and you to judge.
Note 1. 1677. Two versions of this Prologue. The play is by Charles Davenant. [back]
Note 2. no] Scott and others wrongly give nor no. [back]
Note 3. were] Scott and others wrongly give was. [back]
Note 4. stew’d] This can hardly be right. Scott and others give rude Dr. Aldis Wright conjectured sterv’d and this may well be right. [back]

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