An Ode on the Death of Mr. Dryden.
1 As when Plebeans at a Monarch's death,
2 (Which seems Prophan'd by Sighs from vulgar Breath;)
3 With sawcy Grief pity the helpless Fate
4 Of what they fear'd, almost ador'd of late.
5 So I the meanest that did e'er aspire,
6 To own herself of the Muses Empire;
7 Who scarcely can my Tribute pay,
8 To acknowledge their Imperial sway.
9 With arrogant, yet conscious Grief, presume,
10 To shed a Tear on their Vice-gerents awful Tomb:
11 Ah! who'd have thought that seeming deathless Man,
12 With every Art and Grace indow'd;
13 Should have a Life, but of the usual Span,
14 And shrink into a common Shroud.
15 But his unequall'd worth can never dy,
16 Nothing can e'er his matchless Laurels blast,
17 Tho' Albion's self should be destroy'd and wast;
18 And in forgotten Ruins lie. [Page 75]
19 The ecchoing Trump of Fame his Glories will re-reherse,
20 To all the wondering Universe,
21 Till it Joyn sound with the Tremendious last.
22 Sure Poets are not made of common Earth,
23 Or he at least may boast a nobler Birth;
24 Each Atom with soft Numbers was inspir'd,
25 And flowing Fancy with one lasting Rapture fir'd:
26 Altho' the mighty Secret's not disclos'd,
27 He surely was like Thebes with artful Tunes compos'd.
28 The Voices of the sweet melodious Nine,
29 In Consort joyn'd Apollo's forming Lyre,
30 Did thousand purest particles Inspire;
31 With tuneful Measures Harmony Divine.
32 At the sacred commanding Sound,
33 With Animation passing vulgar Souls,
34 The knowing willing Atoms came,
35 None the creative Strains controuls;
36 But by energy of Ayrs Divine compound,
37 The almost omniscient Frame. [Page 67]
38 And for a Soul which scarce was wanting here,
39 In all the pre-existing Magazine,
40 Not one was seen;
41 Worthy in thy alloted Glories to appear.
42 No great Apollo's self, with his own Rays,
43 (For nothing less could the bright Form improve,)
44 Infus'd celestial Sapience from above;
45 To qualify thee for immortal Bays.
46 Apollo once before a sacred Structure blest,
47 Where all the Inquisitive World did come,
48 For an ambiguous Doom;
49 And splendid Pomp amaz'd the curious Guest.
50 Yet with less Glory did at Delphos shine,
51 When floors of Marble, roofs of Gold,
52 Did his oraculous God-head hold;
53 Then in thy living Shrine,
54 There fetter'd with a sacerdotal Yoke,
55 Uncheckt in thee, the God has always spoke.
56 In thee no less Magnificent appears,
57 Nor with less Splender did his Power exert,
58 Then when above a Soveraign sway he bears;
59 In Learning Poetry, and every Godlike Art.[Page 77]
60 But oh! the Deity is silenc'd now,
61 No more celestial Cadence from thy Tongue will flow,
62 And all the lesser Fanes with Grief expire,
63 All gasping ly,
64 With fainting Groans deplore,
65 Great Dryden is no more;
66 And with declining Fire
67 Sing their own Requiem in thy Obsequie.
68 Farewel to Inspiration now,
69 All sacred extacies of Wit,
70 The softer Excellence,
71 Of melting Words and rapturing Sence,
72 Ye will no more with Divine Sweetness flow;
73 But Poetry submit
74 To the bold Enthusiastick Rage
75 Of a deserted and malicious Age.
76 Only the Pythagorean Faith we doubt,
77 Else if thy great Soul should transmigrated be,
78 It might be parcell'd out
79 And stock each Age with Laureats till Eternity. [Page 78]
80 Ah! Where is thy harmonious Spirit now?
81 Teaching softer Numbers to the Sphears,
82 Or makes some Star with greater Lustre glow,
83 Or roamest in the extended Space thy long Eternity of Years.
84 No, toth' sacred softer Shades thou'rt gone,
85 The Souls of Poets needs must thither fly;
86 (I'm sure they Lovers live how e're they die.)
87 But thou so many Laurels here hast won,
88 As plants a new Elizium of thy own.
89 Triumphant sit beneath th' immortal Shade,
90 Of ever blooming Wreaths which less than those will fade,
91 That are below for softest Lovers made.
92 Therefore the Mantuan Swain need not retreat,
93 But keep his antient Regal Seat;
94 Which else at thy Approach he would resign,
95 For well he knows Wit's sacred Throne is thine:
96 See he with Thanks salutes thy skilful Hand,
97 Which so successfully has taught;
98 His long fam'd Works the Language of our Land,
99 With Art in every Line, and Grace in every Thought.
100 None their intrinsick Value can deny,
101 The well plac'd Pride of antient Rome,
102 Polish'd by thee is now our Boast become;
103 Sparkling with all the Glories of true Poetry;
104 Receives from all a just and happier Doom. [Page 79]
105 Orpheus and all the tuneful Poets there,
106 With Joys new dated celebrate thy Fame,
107 In an eternal soft celestial Air;
108 For all the Honours thou hast done the so long slighted Name.
109 And we whom thou hast left behind,
110 Are all employ'd about thee too;
111 Altho thy Worth too great a Theme we find,
112 At least our Gratitude in Grief we show.
113 Our best Encomiums but prophane thy Name,
114 Unless successful Congreves artful Line;
115 That only Rival of so great a Fame,
116 Can Justice do to thine.
117 My well meant Trophy blushing I must rear,
118 Unkind Melpomene affords no Aid,
119 Tho' I so often beg'd and pray'd,
120 My softer Voice she would not hear.
121 Amongst the mighty Men she's busie now,
122 Tis they I find best charm immortal Females too;
123 Tho' she'll not teach how I shall Numbers keep,
124 My Admiration in Heroick's dress,
125 Or in a softer Ode my Griefs express,
126 Tis my own Fault being Woman, if I fail to weep.
127 Since this great Man insatiate Fate obey'd,
128 How is Wit's Empire lessen'd and decay'd? [Page 80]
129 It scarce a Province now appears,
130 Come then let's joyn our Tears;
131 Cease not till an Ocean flow,
132 Twine round the Muses Plat, till it an Island grow,
133 There let's possess her constant Joys,
134 Spite, Poverty and Noise.
135 Tho' bounded safe with a Castalian Sea,
136 They ne'er must hope their Isles the Fortunate will be.