Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Prologues and Epilogues
Earlier version of Prologue to Circe
WERE you but half so wise as y’ are severe,
Our youthful Poet shou’d not need to fear;
To his green years your Censures you wou’d 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 Aukward 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
For your own sakes, instruct him when he’s out,
You’ll find him mend his work at every bout.
When some young lusty Thief is passing by,
How many of your tender Kind will cry,
A proper Fellow! pity he should dye!        15
He might be sav’d, and thank us for our pains,
There’s such a stock of Love within his Veins.
These Arguments the Women may persuade,
But move not you, the Brothers of the Trade,
Who, scattering your Infection through the Pit,        20
With aking Hearts and empty Purses sit,
To take your dear five Shillings worth of Wit.
The Praise you give him in your kindest mood
Comes dribling from you, just like drops of Blood;
And then you clap so civilly, for fear        25
The loudness might offend your Neighbours ear,
That we suspect your Gloves are lin’d within,
For silence sake, and Cotten’d next the skin.
From these Usurpers we appeal to you,
The only knowing, only judging few;        30
You, who in private have this Play allow’d,
Ought to maintain your Suffrage to the Crowd.
The Captive, once submitted to your Bands,
You should protect from Death by Vulgar hands.

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