Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO MY HONOURED FRIEND DR. CHARLETON, by JOHN DRYDEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TO MY HONOURED FRIEND DR. CHARLETON, by         Recitation     Poet's Biography
First Line: The longest tyranny that ever swayed
Last Line: But, he restor'd, 't is now become a throne.
Variant Title(s): To My Honoured Friend, Dr. Charleton, On His Learned And Useful Works
Subject(s): Archeology; Boyle, Robert (1627-1691); Harvey, William (1578-1657); Science; Stonehenge; Scientists


The longest tyranny that ever sway'd
Was that wherein our ancestors betray'd
Their free-born reason to the Stagirite,
And made his torch their universal light.
So truth, while only one supplied the state,
Grew scarce, and dear, and yet sophisticate;
Until 't was bought, like emp'ric wares, or charms,
Hard words seal'd up with Aristotle's arms.
Columbus was the first that shook his throne,
And found a temp'rate in a torrid zone,
The fev'rish air fann'd by a cooling breeze,
The fruitful vales set round with shady trees;
And guiltless men, who danc'd away their time,
Fresh as their groves, and happy as their clime.
Had we still paid that homage to a name,
Which only God and Nature justly claim,
The western seas had been our utmost bound,
Where poets still might dream the sun was drown'd:
And all the stars that shine in southern skies
Had been admir'd by none but savage eyes.
Among th' asserters of free reason's claim,
Th' English are not the least in worth or fame.
The world to Bacon does not only owe
Its present knowledge, but its future too.
Gilbert shall live, till loadstones cease to draw,
Or British fleets the boundless ocean awe.
And noble Boyle, not less in nature seen,
Than his great brother read in states and men.
The circling streams, once thought but pools, of blood
(Whether life's fuel or the body's food)
From dark oblivion Harvey's name shall save;
While Ent keeps all the honour that he gave.
Nor are you, learned friend, the least renown'd;
Whose fame, not circumscrib'd with English ground,
Flies like the nimble journeys of the light;
And is, like that, unspent too in its flight.
Whatever truths have been by art or chance
Redeem'd from error, or from ignorance,
Thin in their authors, like rich veins of ore,
Your works unite, and still discover more.
Such is the healing virtue of your pen,
To perfect cures on books, as well as men.
Nor is this work the least: you well may give
To men new vigour, who makes stones to live.
Thro' you, the Danes, their short dominion lost,
A longer conquest than the Saxons boast.
Stonehenge, once thought a temple, you have found
A throne, where kings, our earthly gods were crown'd;
Where by their wond'ring subjects they were seen,
Joy'd with their stature and their princely mien.
Our sovereign here above the rest might stand,
And here be chose again to rule the land.
These ruins shelter'd once his sacred head,
Then when from Wor'ster's fatal field he fled;
Watch'd by the genius of this royal place,
And mighty visions of the Danish race,
His refuge then was for a temple shown:
But, he restor'd, 't is now become a throne.

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