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POEMS

OF

JOHN DRYDEN.

TALES FROM CHAUCER.

TO

Thus, after length of ages, she returns, HER GRACE THE DUCHESS OF ORMOND, Or you perform her office in the sphere,

Restord in you, and the same place adorns; WITH THE POLLOWING POEM OF

Born of her blood, and make a new platonic year. PALAMON AND ARCITE.

O true Plantagenet, О race divine,

(For beauty still is fatal to the line) MADAM,

Had Chaucer liv'd, that angel-face to view,

Sure he had drawn his Emily from you; THE bard, who first adorn'd our native tongue, Or had you livd to judge the doubtful right,

Tun'd to his British lyre this ancient song: Your noble Palamon had been the knight; Which Homer might without a blush rehearse, And conquering Theseus from his side had sent And leaves a doubtful palm in Virgil's verse : Your generous lord, to guide the Theban governHe match'd their beauties, where they most excel; | Time shall accomplish that; and I shall see [ment. Of love sung better, and of arms as well.

A Palamon in him, in you an Emily.
Vouchsafe, illustrious Ormond, to behold Already have the Fates your path prepard,
What power the charms of beauty had of old; And sure presage your future sway declard :
Nor wonder if such deeds of arms were done, When westward, like the Sun, you took yourway
Inspird by two fair eyes, that sparkled like your And from benighted Britain bore the day,

If Chaucer by the best idea wrought, [own. Blue Triton gave the signal from the shore,
And poets can divine each other's thought, The ready Nereids heard, and swam before
The fairest nymph before his eyes he set; To smooth the seas; a soft Etesian gale
And then the fairest was Plantagenet;

But just inspir'd, and gently swell’d the sail; Who three contending princes made their prize, Portunus touk his turn, whose ample hand And ruPd the rival nations with her eyes :

Heav'd up his lighten'd keel, and sunk the sand, Who left immortal trophies of her fame,

And steer'd the sacred vessel safe to land. And to the noblest order gave the name.

The land, if not restrain'd, had met your way, Like her, of equal kindred to the throne, Projected out a neck, and jutted to the sea. You keep her conquests, and extend your own: Hibernia, prostrate at your feet, adored As when the stars, in their etherial race,

In you, the pledge of her expected lord; At length have rolld around the liquid space, Due to her isle; a venerable name; At certain periods they resume their place, His father and his grandsire known to fame ; From the same point of Heaven their course ad- Aw'd by that house, accustom'd to command, vance,

The sturdy Kerns in due subjection stand; And move in measures of their former dance; Nor bear the reins in any foreign hand.

At your approach, they crowded to the port; And I prepard to pay, in verses rude,
And, scarcely landed, you create a court: A most detested act of gratitude:
As Ormond's harbinger, to you they run; Ev'n this had been your elegy, which now
For Venus is the promise of the Sun.

offerd for your health, the table of my vow. The waste of civil wars, their towns destroy'd, Your angel sure our Morley's mind inspir'd, Pales un honour'd, Ceres unemploy'd,

To find the remedy your ill requir'd; Were all forgot; and one triumphant day As once the Macedon, by Jove's decree, Wip'd all the tears of three campaigns away. Was taught to dream an herb for Ptolomee: Blood, rapines, massacres, were cheaply bought, Or Heaven, which had such over-cost bestow'd, So mighty recompense your beauty brought. Ås scarce it could afford to flesh and blood, As when the dove, returning, bore the mark So lik'd the frame, he would not work anew, Of earth restor'd to the long labouring ark, To save the charges of another you. The relics of mankind, secure of rest,

Or by his middle science did he steer, Ope'd every window to receive the guest,

And saw some great contingent good appear
And the fair bearer of the message bless'd; Well worth a miracle to keep you here:
So, when you came, with loud repeated cries, And for that end, preserv'd the precious mould,
The nation took an omen from your eyes, Which all the future Ormonds was to hold;
Avd God advanc'd his rainbow in the skies, And meditated, in his better mind, [kind.
To sign inviolable peace restord; {accord. An heir from you, which may redeem the failing
The saints with solemn shouts proclaim'd the new Blest be the er, which has at once restorld
Wben, at your second coming, you appear, The hopes of lost succession to your lord,
(For I foretel that millenary year)

Joy to the first and last of each degree,
The sharpen'd share sball vex the soil no more, Virtue to courts, and, what I long'd to see,
But Earth unbidden shall produce her store ; To you the Graces, and the Muse to me.
The Land shall laugh, the circling Ocean smile, () danghter of the Rose, whose cheeks unite
And Heaveu's indulgence bless the holy isle. The differing titles of the red and white;
Heaven from all ages has reserv'd for you

Who Heaven's alternate beauty well display,
That happy clime, which venom never knew; The blush of morning and the milky way;
Or if it had been there, your eyes alone

Whose face is Paradise, but fenc'd from sin : Have power to chase all poison, but their own. For God in either eye bas plac'd a cherubin. Now in this interval, which Fate has cast

All is your lord's alone; ev'n absent, he Betwixt your future glories and your past, Employs the care of chaste Penelope. This pause of power, 'tis Ireland's hour to

For him you waste in tears your widow'd hours, mourn;

For him your curious needle paints the flowers;
While England celebrates your safe return, Such works of old imperial dames were taught;
By which you seem the seasons to command, Such, for Ascanius, fair Elisa wrought.
And bring our summers back to their forsaken | The soft recesses of your hours improve
land.

The three fair pledges of your happy love:
The vanquish'd isle our leisure must attend, All other parts of pious duty done,
Till the fair blessing we vouchsafe to send ; [lend. | You owe your Ormond nothing but a son,
Nor can we spare you long, though often we may To fill in future times his father's place,
The dove was twice employ'd abroad, before And wear the garter of his mother's race.
The world was dry'd, and she return'd no more.

Nor dare we trust so soft a messenger,
New from her sickness, to that northern air:
Rest here a while your iustre to restore,
That they may see you, as you shone before;

PALAJOV AND ARCITE :
For yet, tö'ec'ipse not wholly past, you wade

OR THE KNIGHT'S TALE.
Through some remains, and dimness of a shade.
A subject in his prince may claim a right,

BOOK I.
Nor suffer him with strength impair'd to fight;
Till force returns, his ardour we restrain,

In days of old, there livd, of mighty fame, And curb his warlike wish to cross the main. A valiant prince, and Theseus was bis name:

Now past the danger, let the learn'd begin A chief, who more in feats of arins excelld,
Th’inquiry, where disease could enter in; The rising nor the setting Sun bebeld.
How those malignant atoms forc'd their way, Of Athens he was lord; much land be won,
What in the faultless frame they found to make | And added foreign countries to his crown.
their prey?

In Scythia with the warrior queen he strove, Where every element was weigh'd so well, (tell Whom first by force he conquered, then by love; That Heaven alone, who mix'd the mass, could He brought in triumph back the beauteous dame, Which of the four ingredients could rebel;

With whom her sister, fair Emilia, came. And where, imprison'd in so sweet a cage,

With honour to his home let Theseus ride, A soul might well be pleas'd to pass an age. With Love to friend, and Fortune for his guide,

And yet the fine materials made it weak: And his victorious army at his side. Porcelain, by being pure, is apt to break:

I pass their warlike pomp, their proud array, Ev'n to your breast the sickness durst aspire ; Their shouts, their songs, their welcome on the And, fured from that fair temple to retire,

way : Profanely set the holy place on fire.

But, were it not too long, I would recite
In vain your lord like young Vespasian mourn'd, The feats of Amazons, the fatal fight
When the fierce llames the sanctuary burn'd: Betwixt the hardy queen and liero knight;

The town besieg'd, and how much blood it cost No friend has leave to bear away the dead,
The female army and th’ Athenian host;

But with their lifeless limbs his hounds are fed.” The spousals of Hippolita, the queen ;

At this she shriek'd aloud; the mournful train What tilts and turneys at the feast were seen; Echo'd her grief, and, groveling on the plain, The storm at their return, the ladies' fear:

With groans, and hands upheld, to move his mind, But these, and other things, I mustforbear. Besought his pity to their helpless kind ! The field is spacious I design to sow,

The prince was iouch’d, his tears began to flow, With oxen far unfit to draw the plow :

And, as his tender heart would break in two, The remnant of my tale is of a length

He sigh'd, and could not but their fate deplore, To tire your patience, and to waste my strength ; So wretched now, so fortunate before. And trivial accidents shall be forborn,

Then lightly from his lofty steed he flew, That others may have time to take their turn; And raising, one by one, the suppliant crew, As was at first enjoin'd us by mine host,

To comfort each, full solemnly he swore, That he whose tale is best, and pleases most, That by the faith which knights to knighthood Should win his supper at our common cost. And whate'erelse to chivalry belongs, [bore, And therefore where I left, I will pursue

He would not cease, till he reveng'd their wrongs: This ancient story, whether false or true,

That Greece should see perform’d what he deIn hope it may be mended with a new.

And cruel Creon find his just reward. [clar'd; The prince I mentioned, full of high renown, He said no more, but, shunning all delay, In this array drew near th' Athenian town; Rode on ; nor enter'd Athens on his way: When, in his pomp and utmost of his pride, But left his sister and his queen behind, Marching, he chanc'd to cast his eye aside, And wav'd his royal banner in the wind: And saw a choir of mourning dames, who lay Where in an argent field the god of war By two and two across the common way:

Was drawn triumphant on his iron car; At his approach they rais'd a rueful cry, [high, Red was his sword, and shield, and whole attire, And beat their breasts, and held their hands on And all the godhead seem'd to glow with fire; Creeping and crying, till they seiz'd at last Evin the ground glitter'd where the standard flew, His courser's bridle, and his feet embrac'd. And the green grass was dy'd to sauguine hue. “ Tell me," said Theseus, " what and whence High on his pointed lance his pennon bore you are,

His Cretan fight, the conquer'd Minotaur : And why this funeral pageant you prepare?

The soldiers shout around with generous rage, Is this the welcome of my worthy deeds,

And in that victory their own presage. To meet my triumph in ill-omen'd weeds? He prais' their ardour; inly pleas'd to see Or envy you my praise, and would destroy His host the flower of Grecian chivalry. With grief my pleasures, and pollute my joy? All day he marchd; and all th' ensuing night; Or are you injur'd, and demand relief?

And saw the city with returning light. Name your request, and I will ease your grief.” The process of the war I need not tell,

The most in years of all the mourning train How Theseus conquer'd, and how Creon fell? Began (but swooned first away for pain);

Or after, how by storm the walls were won, Then scarce recover'd spoke: “ Nor envy we Or how the victor sack'd and burn'd the town: Thy great renown, nor grudge thy victory; How to the ladies he restor'd again 'Tis thine, o king, th’allicted to redress,

The bodies of their lords in battle slain : And Fame has fill'd the world with thy success: And with what ancient rites they were interrd; We, wretched women, sue for that alone,

All these to fitter times shall be deferrd: Which of thy goodness is refus'd to none;

I spre the widow's tears, their woeful cries, Let fall some drops of pity on our grief,

And howling at their husband's obsequies; If what we beg be just, and we deserve relief: How Theseus at these funerals did assist, For none of us, who now thy grace implore,

And with what gifts the mourning dames dismiss'd. But held the rank of sovereign queen before ;

Thus when the victor chief had Creon slain, Till, thanks to giddy Chance, which never bears, And conquerd Thebes, he pitch'd upon the plain That mortal bliss should last for length of years, His mighty camp, and, when the day return’d, She cast us headlong from our high estate, The country wasted, and the hamlets burn'd, And here in hope of thy return we wait:

And left the pillagers, to rapine bred, And long have waited in the temple nigh,

Without control to strip and spoil the dead, Built to the gracious goddess Cleinency. [bears, There, in a heap of slain, among the rest But reverence thou the power whose name it | Two youthful knights they found beneath a load Relieve th' oppress’d, and wipe the widow's tears. oppress'd 1, wretched I, have other fortune seen,

Of slaughter'd foes, whom first to death they sent, The wife of Capaneus, and once a queen :

The trophies of their strengt!ı, a bloody moAt Thebes he fell, curst be the fatal day!

nument, And all the rest thou seest in this array

Both fair, and both of royal blood they seeind, To make their moan, their lords in battlelost Whom kinsmen to the crown the heralds deen'd; Before that town, besieg'd by our confederate That day in equal arms they fought for fame;

Their swords, their shields, their surcoats, were But Creon, old and impious, who commapds

the same. The Theban city, and usurps the lands,

Close by each other laid, they press'd the ground, Denies the rites of funeral tires to those

Their manly bosoms pierc'd with many a griesly Whose breathless bodies yet he calls his foes.

wound; Unburn'd, unbury'd, on a heap they lie;

Nor well alive, nor wholly dead they were, Such is their fate, and such his tyranny;

But some faint signs of feeble life appear:

host:

care,

The wandering breath was on the wing to part, The garden, which before he had not seen,
Weak was the pulse, and hardly heard the heart. in Spring's new livery clad of white and green,
These two were sisters' sons; and Arcite one, Fresh flowers in wide parterres, and shady walks
Much fam'd in fields, with valiant Palamon.

between.
From those their costly arins the spoilers rent, This view'd, but not enjoy'd, with arms across
And softly both convey'd to Theseus' tent: He stood, reflecting on his country's loss;
Whom, known of Creon's line, and curd with Himself an object of the public scorn,

And often wish'd he never had been born. He to his city sent as prisoners of the war, At last, for so his destiny requir'd, Hopeless of ransom, and condemn'd to lie With walking giddy, and with thinking tir'd, lo durance, doom'd a lingering death to die. He through a little window cast his sight, This done, he march'd away with warlike sound, Though thick of bars, that gave a scanty light: And to his Athens turn'd with laurels crown'd, But ev'n that glimmering serv'd him to descry Where happy long he livd, much lov'd, and Th' inevitable charms of Emily. (smart, more renown'd.

Scarce had he seen, but, seiz'd with sudden But in a tower, and never to be loos'd,

Stung to the quick, he felt it at bis heart; The woelul captive kinsmen are enclos'd.

Struck blind with over-powering light he stood, Thus year by year they pass, and day by day, Then started back amaz'd, and cry'd aloud. Till once, 'twas on the morn of cheerful May, Young Arcite heard; and up he ran with haste, The young Emilia, fairer to be seen

To help his friend, and in his arms embracd; Than the fair lily on the flowery green,

And ask'd him why he look'd so deadly wan, More fresh than May herself in blossoms new, And whence and how his change of cheer began, For with the rosy coiour strove her hue,

Or who had done th'offence? “But if," said he, Wak'd, as her custom was, before the day,

“ Your grief alone is hard captivity, To do th' observance due to sprightly May: For love of Heavem with patience undergo For sprightly May commands our youth to keep A cureless ill, since Fate will have it so: The vigiis of her night, and breaks their sluggard So stood our horoscope in chains to lie, sleep;

And Saturn in the dungeon of the sky, Each gentle breast with kindly warmth she moves; Orother baleful aspect, ruld our birth, Inspires new flames, revives extinguish'd loves. When all the frienlly stars were under Earth : In this remembrance Emiiy, ere day,

Whate'er betides, by Destiny 'tis done ; [shun." Arose, and dress'd herself in rich array ;

And better bear like men, than vainly seek to Fresh as the month, and as the morning fair; “ Nor of my bonds," said Palamon again, Adown ber shoulders fell ber length of hair: Nor of unhappy planets I complain; A ribband did the braided tresses bind,

But when my mortal anguish caus'd me cry, The rest was loose, and wanton'd in the wind :

That moment I was hurt through either eye; Aurora had but newly chas'd the night,

Pierc'd with a random shaft, I faint away,
And purp!ed o'er the sky with blushing light, And perish with insensible decay:
When to the garden walk she took her way, A glance of some new goddess gave the wound,
To sport and trip along in cool of day,

Whom, like Acteon, unaware I found.
And offer maiden vows in honour of the May. Look how she walks along yon shady space,
At every turn, she made a little stand,

Not Juno moves with more majestic grace;
And thrust among the thorns her lily hand And all the Cyprian queen is in her face.
To draw the rose; and every rose she drew, If thou art Venus (for thy charms confess
She shook the stalk, and brush'd away the dew : That face was form'd in Heaven, nor art thou less;
Then party-colour'd flowers of white and red Disguis'd in habit, undisguis'd in shape)
She wore, to make a garland for her head : O help us captives from our chains t'escape;
This done, she sung and carol'd out so clear, But if our doom be past, in bonds to lie
That men and angels might rejoice to hear : For life, and in a loathsome dungeon die,
Ev'n wondering Philomel forgot to sing,

Then be thy wrath appeas'd with our disgrace, And learn'd from her to welcome-in the Spring. And show compassion to the Theban race, The tower, of which before was mention made, Oppress'd by tyrant power !! While yet he Within whose keep the captive knights were laid, Areite on Emily had fix'd his look; [spoke, Built of a large extent, and strong withal,

The fatal dart a ready passage found, Was one partition of the palace wall:

And deep within bis heart infix'd the wound: The garden was enclos'd within the square, So that if Palamov were wounded sore, Where young Emilia took the morning air. Arcite was hurt as much as he, or more:

It happen'd Palamon, the prisoner knight, Then from his inmost soul he sigh’d, and said, Restless for woe, arose before the light,

“ The beauty I behold has struck me dead : And with his jailor's leave desir'd to breathe Unknowingly she strikes, and kills by chance; An air more wholesome than the damps beneath: Poison is in her eyes, and death in every glance. This granted, to the tower he took his way, 0, I must ask, nor ask alone, but move Cheard with the promise of a glorious day: Her mind to mercy, or must die for love." Then cast a languishing regard around,

Thus Arcite: and thus Palamon replies, And saw with hateful eyes the temples crown'd (Eager his tone, and ardent were his eyes.) With golden spires, and all the hostile ground. Speak'st thou in earnest, or in jesting vein ?” He sigh'd, and turn’d his eyes, because he knew “ Jesting," said Arcite,“ suits but ill with pain." 'Twas but a larger gaol he had in view :

“ It suits far worse” (said Palamon again, [weigh, Then look'd below, and, from the castle's height, And bent his brows) “ with men who honour Beheld a nearer and more pleasing sight,

Their faith to break, their friendship to betray ;

But worst with thee, of noble lineage born, And glar'd like angry lions as they passid,
My kinsman, and in arms my brother sworn. And wish'd that every look might be their last.
Have we not plighted each our holy vath,

Itchanc'd at length, Pirithous came t'attend
That one should be the common good of both; This worthy Theseus, his familiar friend;
One soul should both inspire, and neither prove Their love in early infancy began,
His fellow's hindrance in pursuit of love?

And rose as childhood ripen'd into man;
To this before the Gods we gave our hands, Companions of the war, and lov'd so well,
And nothing but our death can break the bands. That when one dy'd, as ancient stories tell,
This binds thee, then, to further my design : His fellow to redeem him went to Hell.
As I am bound by vow to further thina:

But to pursue my tale: to welcome home
Nor canst, nor darst thou, traitor, on the plain, His warlike brother is Pirithous come:
Appeach my honour, or thine own maintain, Arcite of Thebes was known in arms long since,
Since thou art of my council, and the friend And honour'd by this young Thessalian prince.
Whose faith I trust, and on whose care depend: Theseus, to gratify his friend and guest,
And would'st thou court my lady's love, which I Who made our Arcite's freedom his request,
Mach rather than release would choose to die?. Restor’d to liberty the captive knight,
But thou, false Arcite, never shalt obtain

But on these hard conditions I recite:
Thy bad pretence; I told thee first my pain : That if hereafter Arcite should be found
For first my love began ere thine was born; Within the compass of Athenian ground,

Thou, as my council, and my brother sworn, By day or night, or on whate'er pretence,
Art bound t' assist my eldership of right,

His head should pay the forfeit of th’offence. Or justly to be deem'd a perjur'd knight.”

To this Pirithous for his friend agreed, Thus Palamon : but Areite, with disdain, And on his promise was the prisoner freed. lo baughty language, thus reply'd again:

Unpleas'd and pensive heuce he takes his way, " Forsworn thyself: the traitor's odious name At his own peril; for his life must pay. I first return, and then disprove thy claim. Who now but Arcite mourns his bitter fate, If love be passion, and that passion nurst

Finds his dear purchase, and repents too late? With strong desires, I lov'd the lady first.

“ What have I gain'd,” he said, " in prison pent, Canst thou pretend desire, whom zeal inflam'd If I but change my bonds for banishment? To worship, and a power celestial nam'd ?

And banish'd from her sight, 1 suffer more Thine was devotiou to the blest above,

In freedom, than I felt in bonds before ; I saw the woman, and desir'd her lore;

Forc'd from her presence, and condtmn'd to live : First own'd my passion, and to thee commend Unwelcome freedom, and unthank'd reprieve: Th' important secret, as my chosen friend. Heaven is not, but where Emily abides; Suppose (which yet I grant not) thy desire And where she's absent, all is Hell besides. A moment elder than my rival fire;

Next to my day of birth, was that accurst,
Can chance of seeing first thy title prove ? Which bound my friendship to Pirithous first :
And know'st thou not, no law is made for love; Had I not known thar, prince, I still had been
Law is to things, which to free choice relate; In bondage, and had still Emilia seen:
Love is not in our choice, but in our fate ;

For, though I never can her grace deserve,
Laws are but positive; love's power, we see, 'Tis recompense enough to see and serve,
Is Nature's sanction, and her first decree.

O Palamon, my kinsman and my friend,
Each day we break the bond of human laws How much more happy fates thy love attend !
For love, and vindicate the cominon cause.

Thine is th' adventure; thine the victory : Laws for defence of civil rights are plac'd,

Well has thy fortune turn'd the dice for thee: Love throws the fences down, and makes a general Thou on that angel's face may'st feed thine eyes, waste :

In prison, no; but blissful Paradise !
Maids, widows, wives, without distinction fall; Thou daily seest that sun of beauty shine,
The sweeping deluge, love, comes on, and cover's And lov'st at least in love's extremest line.
If then the laws of friendship I transgress, (all. I mourn in absence, love's eternal night;
I keep the greater, while I break the less;

And who can tell but since thou hast her sight, And both are mad alike, since neither can And art a comely, young, and valiant knight, possess.

Fortune (a various power) may cease to frown, Both hopeless to be ransom'd, never more

Aud by some ways unknown thy wisbes crown? To see the Sun, but as he passes o'er.”

But I, the most forlorn of human kind, Like Æsop's hounds contending for the bone, Nor help can hope, nor remedy can find; Each pleaded right, and would be lord a one: Put, doom'd to drag my loathsome life in care, The fruitless fight contiqued all the day ;

For my reward, must end it in despair. A eur came by, and snatch'd the prize away. Fire, water, air, and earth, and force of fates “As courtiers therefore justle for a grant, (want, That governs all, and Heaven that all creates, And, when they break their friendship, plead their Nor art, nor Nature's hand can ease my grief; So thou, if Fortune will thy suit advance,

Nothing but death, the wretch's last relief: Love on, nor envy me my equal chance :

Then farewel youth, and all the joys that dwell, For 1 must love, and am resolv'd to try

With youth and life, and life itself farewel. My fate, or, failing in th' adventure, die.”

But why, alas! do mortal men in vain Great was their strife, which hourly was re Of Fortune, Fate, or Providence complain? new'd,

God gives us what he knows our wants require, Till each with mortal hate his rival view'd : And better things than those which we desire : Now friends no more, nor walking hand in hand; Some pray for riches; riches they obtain; But when they met, they made a surly stand; But, watch'd by robbers, for their wealth are slain;

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