Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PROLOGUE SPOKEN AT THE OPENING OF THE NEW HOUSE, 1674, by JOHN DRYDEN



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PROLOGUE SPOKEN AT THE OPENING OF THE NEW HOUSE, 1674, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A plain-built house, after so long a stay
Last Line: Machines and tempests will destroy the new.
Subject(s): Fame; Honor; Plays & Playwrights ; Theater & Theaters; Theatre Royal, London; Reputation; Dramatists; Stage Life


A Plain built House, after so long a stay,
Will send you half unsatisfi'd away;
When, fall'n from your expected Pomp, you find
A bare convenience only is designed.
You, who each Day can Theatres behold,
Like Nero's Palace, shining all with Gold,
Our mean ungilded Stage will scorn, we fear,
And for the homely Room, disdain the Chear.
Yet now cheap Druggets to a Mode are grown,
And a plain Suit (since we can make but one)
Is better than to be by tarnisht gawdry known.
They, who are by your Favours wealthy made,
With mighty Sums may carry on the Trade;
We, broken Banquiers, half destroy'd by Fire,
With our small Stock to humble Roofs retire;
Pity our Loss, while you their Pomp admire.
For Fame and Honour we no longer strive;
We yield in both, and only beg to live;
Unable to support their vast Expense,
Who build and treat with such Magnificence,
That, like th' Ambitious Monarchs of the Age,
They give the Law to our Provincial Stage.
Great Neibours enviously promote Excess,
While they impose their Splendor on the less;
But only Fools, and they of vast Estate,
Th' extremity of Modes will imitate,
The dangling Knee-fringe and the Bibcravat.
Yet if some Pride with want may be allow'd,
We in our plainness may be justly proud;
Our Royal Master will'd it should be so;
Whate'er he's pleased to own can need no show;
That sacred Name gives Ornament and Grace;
And, like his Stamp, makes basest Mettals pass.
'Twere Folly now a stately Pile to raise,
To build a Play-house, while you throw down Plays;
Whilst Scenes, Machines, and empty Opera's reign,
And for the Pencil you the Pen disdain;
While Troops of famish'd Frenchmen hither drive,
And laugh at those upon whose Alms they live:
Old English Authors vanish, and give place
To these new Conqu'rors of the Norman Race.
More tamely than your Fathers you submit;
You're now grown Vassals to 'em in your Wit.
Mark, when they play, how our fine Fops advance
The Mighty Merits of these Men of France,
Keep time, cry Ben, and humour the Cadence.
Well, please your selves; but sure 'tis understood,
That French Machines have ne'er done England good.
I would not prophesie our Houses Fate;
But while vain Shows and Scenes you overrate,
'Tis to be feared -----
That, as a Fire the former House o'erthrew,
Machines and Tempests will destroy the new.





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