…Thy inoffensive satires never bite.
In thy felonious heart though venom lies,
It does but touch thy Irish pen, and dies.
Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame
In keen iambics, but mild anagram.
Leave writing plays, and choose for thy command
Some peaceful province in acrostic land.
There thou mayst wings display and altars raise,
And torture one poor word ten thousand ways…
John Dryden: MacFlecknoe
Yes – it could be said of me and my scrawling.
(I dabble in acrostics as my long-suffering poetry acquaintances can testify).
John Dryden wrote lines 3 centuries ago that still sting poetasters like me.
It hurts so good.
He could have been writing part of my unapproved biography here (just call me Zimri):
…In the first rank of these did Zimri stand:
A man so various, that he seem’d to be
Not one, but all Mankind’s Epitome.
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;
Was everything by starts, and nothing long:
But in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon:
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking;
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Blest madman, who could every hour employ,
With something new to wish, or to enjoy!
Railing and praising were his usual themes;
And both (to show his judgment) in extremes:
So over violent, or over civil,
That every man, with him, was god or devil…
John Dryden: Absalom and Achitophel
John Dryden was a great poet. Not only could he write nasty satires about the political movers and shakers of his day thinly disguised as Old Testament history; he also wrote thunderous lyrics such as one of my all-time favorite poems A Song For St. Cecelia’s Day, 1687.
Talk about a true Rock Star ! He was Poet Laureate of England for a while.
Dryden was born of Puritan parents and became an Anglican – only to convert to Roman Catholicism later in his life. We can forgive him for that.
You can learn way too much about his poetry here – really funny stuff, some of it.
I leave you with the celestially stupendous final lines of the above-mentioned Song for St. Cecelia:
♪♫ Grand Chorus ♪♫♪
As from the power of sacred lays
The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator’s praise
To all the bless’d above;
So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky.
I had fun with this one. All the way up to the point you became forever an internet Catholic Basher in my eyes. lol
I’m sorry you were offended. (It’s nothing worth getting subluxated over…) ☺ ♥
How many Hail Marys must I say to return to your good graces?
Dryden is definitely a great poet.
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Very good information. Dryden lived a interesting life. His words need to be remembered.
Indeed, yes. His laurels have yet to wither !
I’m of two minds about Dryden. Really, my own opinion is that his greatness as a poet was not as a poet. His imagery and figurative inventiveness is flat and conventional — if not mediocre. But he could dice a diamond between his wit and rhyming. Reminds me of Byron in that respect, whose poetic craft was conventional at best; but pity the poor man or woman who was the target of his wit and rhyme. Same goes for Dryden. He genius was snark — if you know what I mean.
As for “Catholic bashing” — the world could only improve if God threw Catholicism (along with every other Abrahamic religion) into the trash. At least we wouldn’t have some old man in a funny hat telling impoverished women that using birth control is a sin — all while running around claiming he only wants to help the poor and the environment. Human beings need to stop believing in Religion. Believe in God, yes — why not? — but not religion.
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“…dice a diamond…”. That’s a phrase I’m going to borrow!
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