Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, OEDIPUS: EPILOGUE, by JOHN DRYDEN



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OEDIPUS: EPILOGUE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What sophocles could undertake alone
Last Line: To please you more, but burning of a pope.
Subject(s): Greece; Oedipus; Plays & Playwrights ; Poetry & Poets; Sophocles (496-406 B.c.); Greeks; Dramatists


WHAT Sophocles could undertake alone,
Our Poets found a Work for more than one;
And therefore Two lay tugging at the piece,
With all their force, to draw the pondrous Mass from Greece;
A weight that bent ev'n Seneca's strong Muse,
And which Corneille's Shoulders did refuse:
So hard it is th' Athenian Harp to string!
So much two Consuls yield to one just King.
Terrour and Pity this whole Poem sway;
The mightiest Machines that can mount a Play;
How heavy will those Vulgar Souls be found,
Whom two such Engines cannot move from Ground!
When Greece and Rome have smil'd upon this Birth,
You can but damn for one poor spot of Earth;
And when your Children find your judgment such,
They'll scorn their Sires, and wish themselves born Dutch;
Each haughty Poet will infer with ease,
How much his Wit must under-write to please.
As some strong Churle would brandishing advance
The monumental Sword that conquer'd France,
So you by judging this your judgments teach,
Thus far you like, that is, thus far you reach.
Since then the Vote of full two Thousand years
Has Crown'd this Plot, and all the Dead are theirs,
Think it a Debt you pay, not Alms you give,
And in your own defence let this Play live.
Think 'em not vain, when Sophocles is shown,
To praise his worth, they humbly doubt their own.
Yet as weak States each other's pow'r assure,
Weak Poets by Conjunction are secure.
Their Treat is what your Pallats rellish most,
Charm! Song! and Show! a Murder and a Ghost!
We know not what you can desire or hope,
To please you more, but burning of a Pope.





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