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And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew

the slain. The master saw the madness rise, His glowing cheeks, his ardent eyes;

70 And while he heaven and earth defied, Changed his hand, and checked his pride.

He chose a mournful Muse,

Soft pity to infuse;
He sung Darius great and good,

75 By too severe a fate, Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,

Fallen from his high estate, And weltering in his blood; Deserted at his utmost need

80 By those his former bounty fed; On the bare earth exposed he lies,

With not a friend to close his eyes.
With downcast looks the joyless victor sate,

Revolving in his altered soul

The various turns of chance below:
And, now and then, a sigh he stole,

And tears began to flow,


Now strike the golden lyre again;
A louder yet, and yet a louder strain.
Break his bands of sleep asunder, 125
And rouse him, like a rattling peal of thunder.
Hark, hark, the horrid sound

Has raised up his head;

As awaked from the dead,
And, amazed, he stares around. 130
“Revenge, revenge !” Timotheus cries;

“See the Furies arise;
See the snakes that they rear,

How they hiss in their hair,
And the sparkles that flash from their eyes?

Behold a ghastly band,

Each a torch in his hand!
Those are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain,

And unburied remain
Inglorious on the plain:
Give the vengeance due

To the valiant crew.
Behold how they toss their torches on high,

How they point to the Persian abodes,
And glittering temples of their hostile gods.” 145
The princes applaud with a furious joy;
And the king seized a flambeau with zeal to destroy;

Thais led the way,

To light him to his prey, And, like another Helen, fired another Troy. 150




Revolving in his altered soul

The various turns of chance below; 90 And, now and then, a sigh he stole,

And tears began to flow.


The mighty master smiled to see
That love was in the next degree;
'Twas but a kindred-sound to move, 95
For pity melts the mind to love.

Softly sweet, in Lydian measures,

Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures.
War, he sung, is toil and trouble;
Honour but an empty bubble;

Never ending, still beginning,
Fighting still, and still destroying:

If the world be worth thy winning,
Think, I think it worth enjoying:
Lovely Thais sits beside thee,

Take the good the gods provide thee.
The many rend the skies with loud applause:
So Love was crowned, but Music the


And the king seized a flambeau with zeal to destroy;

Thais led the way,

To light him to his prey, And, like another Helen, fired another Troy. 154


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Thus long ago,
Ere heaving bellows learned to blow,

While organs yet were mute,
Timotheus, to his breathing flute

And sounding lyre,
Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire.
At last divine Cecilia came,

161 Inventress of the vocal frame; The sweet enthusiast, from her sacred store,

Enlarged the former narrow bounds,

And added length to solemn sounds,

165 With Nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown

Let old Timotheus yield the prize,

Or both divide the crown:
He raised a mortal to the skies;
She drew an angel down.



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And peace and joy attend the glorious guest.

Truth still is one;- Truth is divinely bright;
No cloudy doubts obscure her native light;
While in your thoughts you find the least debate,
You may confound, but never can translate.
Your style will this through all disguises show;
For none explain more clearly than they know.
He only proves he understands a text,
Whose exposition leaves it unperplex’d.
They who too faithfully on names insist,
Rather create than dissipate the mist;
And grow unjust by being over nice,
(For superstitious virtue turns to vice.)
Let Crassus' ghost and Labienus tell
How twice in Parthian plains their legions fell.
Since Rome hath been so jealous of her fame,
That few know Pacorus' or Monæses' name.

Words in one language elegantly used,
Will hardly in another be excused;
And some that Rome admired in Cæsar's time
May neither suit our genius nor our clime.
The genuine sense, intelligibly told,
Shows a translator both discreet and bold.

Excursions are inexpiably bad;
And 'tis much safer to leave out than add.
Abstruse and mystic thought you must express
With painful care, but seeming easiness;
For Truth shines brightest through the plainest






(In Tonson's folio edition of the Paradise

Lost, 1688)


Three poets, in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn.
The first in loftiness of thought surpassed,
The next in majesty, in both the last.
The force of Nature could no farther go;
To make a third she joined the former two.


DORSET (1638-1706)


EARL OF ROSCOMMON (1633?-1685)



To all you ladies now at land

We men at sea indite; But first would have you understand

How hard it is to write: The Muses now, and Neptune too, We must implore to write to you

With a fa, la, la, la, la!


What I have instanced only in the best,
Is, in proportion, true of all the rest.
Take pains the genuine meaning to explore; 180

There sweat, there strain; tug the laborious oar;
Search every comment that your care can find;
Some here, some there, may hit the poet's mind.
Yet be not blindly guided by the throng;
The multitude is always in the wrong.
When things appear unnatural or hard,
Consult your author, with himself compared.
Who knows what blessing Phæbus may bestow,
And future ages to your labours owe?
Such secrets are not easily found out; 190
But, once discover'd, leave no room for doubt.
Truth stamps conviction in your ravish'd breast;

For though the Muses should prove kind,

And fill our empty brain,
Yet if rough Neptune rouse the wind

To wave the azure main,
Our paper, pen, and ink, and we,
Roll up and down our ships at sea –

With a fa, la, la, la, la l

Then if we write not by each post,

Think not we are unkind; Nor yet conclude our ships are lost

By Dutchmen or by wind:

And now we've told you all our loves,

And likewise all our fears,
In hopes this declaration moves

Some pity for our tears:
Let's hear of no inconstancy –
We have too much of that at sea —

With a fa, la, la, la, la!

SIR CHARLES SEDLEY (1639 ?-1701)


TO CELIA Not, Celia, that I juster am,

Or better than the rest; For I would change each hour like them

Were not my heart at rest. But I am tied to very thee,

By every thought I have; Thy face I only care to see,

Thy heart I only crave.
All that in woman is adored

In thy dear self I find;
For the whole sex can but afford

The handsome and the kind.
Why then should I seek further store

And still make love anew ?
When change itself can give no more,

'Tis easy to be true.


Our tears we'll send a speedier way,
The tide shall bring them twice a day - 30

With a fa, la, la, la, la !
The King with wonder and surprise

Will swear the seas grow bold,
Because the tides will higher rise

Than e'er they did of old;
But let him know it is our tears
Bring floods of grief to Whitehall stairs

With a fa, la, la, la, la !
Should foggy Opdam chance to know
Our sad and dismal story,

30 The Dutch would scorn so weak a foe,

And quit their fort at Goree;
For what resistance can they find
From men who've left their hearts behind ? -

With a fa, la, la, la, la !
Let wind and weather do its worst,

Be you to us but kind;
Let Dutchmen vapour, Spaniards curse,

No sorrow we shall find;
'Tis then no matter how things go,
Or who's our friend, or who's our foe-

With a fa, la, la, la, la !
To pass our tedious hours away

We throw a merry main,
Or else at serious ombre play;

But why should we in vain
Each other's ruin thus pursue?
We were undone when we left you

With a fa, la, la, la, la!
But now our fears tempestuous grow 50

And cast our hopes away,
Whilst you, regardless of our woe,

Sit careless at a play,
Perhaps permit some happier man
To kiss your hand, or flirt your fan

With a fa, la, la, la, la !
When any mournful tune you hear

That dies in every note,
As if it sigh'd with each man's care
For being so remote,

60 Think then how often love we've made To you, when all those tunes were play'd –

With a fa, la, la, la, la !
In justice you cannot refuse

To think of our distress,
When we for hopes of honour lose

Our certain happiness:
All those designs are but to prove
Ourselves more worthy of your love
With a fa, la, la, la, la !





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Love still has something of the sea,

From whence his Mother rose; No time his slaves from love can free,

Nor give their thoughts repose. They are becalm'd in clearest days,

And in rough weather tost; They wither under cold delays,

Or are in tempests lost. One while they seem to touch the port,

Then straight into the main
Some angry wind in cruel sport

Their vessel drives again.
At first disdain and pride they fear,

Which, if they chance to 'scape,
Rivals and falsehood soon appear

In a more dreadful shape.
By such degrees to joy they come,

And are so long withstood,
So slowly they receive the sum,

It hardly does them good.



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For what he else had never got by sense.
On Butler who can think without just rage,
The glory, and the scandal of the age ?
Fair stood his hopes, when first he came to town,
Met, ev'ry where, with welcomes of renown,
Courted, caress'd by all, with wonder read,
And promises of princely favour fed;

But what reward for all had he at last,
After a life in dull expectance pass'd?
The wretch, at summing up his misspent days,
Found nothing left, but poverty, and praise ?
Of all his gains by verse he could not save
Enough to purchase flannel, and a grave:
Reduc'd to want, he, in due time, fell sick,
Was fain to die, and be interr'd on tick;
And well might bless the fever that was sent,
To rid him hence, and his worse fate prevent. 190

You've seen what fortune other poets share; View next the factors of the theatre: That constant mart, which all the year does hold, Where staple wit is barter'd, bought, and sold. Here trading scriblers for their maintenance, And livelihood, trust to a lott'ry-chance. But who his parts would in the service spend, Where all his hopes on vulgar breath depend? Where ev'ry sot, for paying half a crown, Has the prerogative to cry him down. Sedley indeed may be content with fame, Nor care, should an ill-judging audience damn; But Settle, and the rest, that write for pence, Whose whole estate's an ounce or two of brains, Should a thin house on the third day appear, Must starve, or live in tatters all the year. And what can we expect that's brave and great, From a poor needy wretch, that writes to eat? Who the success of the next play must wait 209 For lodging, food, and clothes, and whose chief care Is how to spunge for the next meal, and where?

JOHN OLDHAM (1653–1683)




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