Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DREAM. AN EPISTLE TO MR. DRYDEN, by ELIZABETH THOMAS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE DREAM. AN EPISTLE TO MR. DRYDEN, by                
First Line: When yet a child, I read great virgil o'er
Last Line: But envies those that in your presence stand.
Subject(s): Dreams; Dryden, John (1631-1700); Poetry & Poets; Nightmares

When yet a Child, I read great Virgil o'er,
And sigh'd, to see the barb'rous Dress he wore;
The Phrase how awkward, how abstruse the Sense!
And how remote from Roman Eloquence!
And mov'd, to see his lofty Epick Rhymes
By murd'ring Pens debas'd, to doggerel Chimes;
Ye, sacred Maids, cried I, How long? and why
Must Virgil under English Rubbish lye?
He, who can charm in this Exotick Dress,
What Beauties must his native Tongue express?
Ah barren Isle! not One, one gen'rous Quill,
To give Him whole, will non exert their skill,
But who translate incorrigibly ill?

Then pausing here, I fell into a Dream,
If I may call it such? and this the Theam.
Methoughts I did the Delphick Fane behold,
The Doors, and Roof, were all of burnish'd Gold,
The Floor, and Walls of Parian Stone were built,
And these, with ductile Gold, were finely gilt.
Above three Hundred Lamps shone in the Place,
And twice six Altars, did the Temple grace;
A golden Tripos, in the Midst arose;
But O! what Pen it's Lustre can disclose?
So nicely grav'd, so lively ev'ry Part,
Nature her self was here out done by Art.
The meanest Basis was of costly Wood,
And, on it's Summit, bright Apollo stood:
An azure Mantle did his Arms invest,
His golden Lyre, he held before his Brest.
A Silver Bow was on his Shoulder bound,
And with chaste Daphne's Leaves, his Head was crowned.
Ruddy his Cheeks, and flowing was his Hair,
All dazling bright he look'd, and exquisitly Fair.
Around him, sage Memoria's Daughters sat;
And all the Graces at his right Hand wait.
Then up Calliope arose, who sings
Of mighty Poets; and of mighty Kings:
Her lovely Breast, with her fair Hand she stroke,
And after due Obeisance, thus she spoke.

Thou Great Director of our triple Trine!
Thou, who instructed us, and made us thine!
Hast thou forgotten? when my first born Son,
My dearest Orpheus, Pluto's Favour won;
And how, for too much Kindness to his Wife,
He was by Bacchannals depriv'd of Life;
Who tore his Limbs, in Hebrus cast his Head,
Which sweetly sang his Elogy tho' Dead?
'Twas then, you chear'd me, bid me dry my Eyes,
And said, from me, another Swan should rise:
When Virgil's born, he shall thy Joys restore,
And, for thy Orpheus, thou shalt weep no more.
'Twas said! 'tis done! and Virgil calm'd my Breast,
With Eagles Wings, he soar'd above the Rest;
And Orpheus Spirit, doubly he possest.
But now twelve Cent'ries past, I've cause to mourn
To see my Virgil's Works thus maul'd and torn,
By French, Dutch, English, and each stupid Drone,
Burlesq'd, obscur'd, and in Travesty shown.
Poor mercenary Pens attempt for Gain,
And hungry Wits his sacred Lines profane;
'Tis thus they sully, thus disgrace his Name;
And not one gen'rous Bard, is left to clear his Fame.
Hold! he reply'd, there's one has Sense and Truth,
That is my Creature, he shall right the Youth,
New polish Maro; Maro's soul express;
And cloath him in a more becoming Dress.
And thou bold Girl! (to me) hast done amiss,
To call that barren where my Dryden is;
He whom I have ordain'd, by certain Doom,
To honour Britain, more, than Virgil Rome:
And with the self same voice, Eternal Fame,
Dryden and Virgil's glory shall proclaim.

The grateful Muse, profoundly bow'd her Head,
And I still trembling, wak'd, at what was said:
Dryden cried I! ev'n then, I knew your Name;
(For who was Ignorant of Dryden's Fame?)
'Tis he! 'tis only he the Work must do,
Then in some Years I found the Vision true,
And swiftly caught the Blessing as it flew.
The Death of Friends, first gave my Muse a Birth,
But you, Sir, rais'd her grov'ling from the Earth:
You taught her Numbers; and you gave her Feet;
And you set Rules, to bound Poetick Heat:
If there is ought in me deserves that Name,
The Spark was light at mighty Dryden's Flame:
But ne'er yet blest with my great Master's Sight.
I fear you'll think it Impudence to write.
Forgive me Sir, I long'd to let you know
How much your Pupil to your Works does owe;
Her Muse is yours, and is at your Command,
But envies those that in your presence stand.

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