The Secular Masque

By John Dryden 1631–1700 John Dryden
Enter JANUS
JANUS
Chronos, Chronos, mend thy pace,
An hundred times the rolling sun
Around the radiant belt has run
In his revolving race.
Behold, behold, the goal in sight,
Spread thy fans, and wing thy flight.

Enter CHRONOS, with a scythe in his hand, and a great globe on his back, which he sets down at his entrance
CHRONOS
Weary, weary of my weight,
Let me, let me drop my freight,
And leave the world behind.
I could not bear
Another year
The load of human-kind.

Enter MOMUS Laughing
MOMUS
Ha! ha! ha! Ha! ha! ha! well hast thou done,
         To lay down thy pack,
         And lighten thy back.
The world was a fool, e'er since it begun,
And since neither Janus, nor Chronos, nor I,
         Can hinder the crimes,
         Or mend the bad times,
'Tis better to laugh than to cry.

CHORUS OF ALL THREE
'Tis better to laugh than to cry

JANUS
Since Momus comes to laugh below,
         Old Time begin the show,
That he may see, in every scene,
What changes in this age have been,

CHRONOS
Then Goddess of the silver bow begin.

Horns, or hunting-music within
DIANA
With horns and with hounds I waken the day,
And hie to my woodland walks away;
I tuck up my robe, and am buskin'd soon,
And tie to my forehead a waxing moon.
I course the fleet stag, unkennel the fox,
And chase the wild goats o'er summits of rocks,
With shouting and hooting we pierce thro' the sky;
And Echo turns hunter, and doubles the cry.

CHORUS OF ALL
With shouting and hooting, we pierce through the sky,
And Echo turns hunter, and doubles the cry.

JANUS
Then our age was in its prime,

CHRONOS
Free from rage,

DIANA
—And free from crime.

MOMUS
A very merry, dancing, drinking,
Laughing, quaffing, and unthinking time.

CHORUS OF ALL
Then our age was in its prime,
Free from rage, and free from crime,
A very merry, dancing, drinking,
Laughing, quaffing, and unthinking time.

Dance of Diana's attendants
MARS
Inspire the vocal brass, inspire;
The world is past its infant age:
         Arms and honour,
         Arms and honour,
Set the martial mind on fire,
And kindle manly rage.
Mars has look'd the sky to red;
And peace, the lazy good, is fled.
Plenty, peace, and pleasure fly;
         The sprightly green
In woodland-walks, no more is seen;
The sprightly green, has drunk the Tyrian dye.

CHORUS OF ALL
Plenty, peace, |&|c.

MARS
Sound the trumpet, beat the drum,
   Through all the world around;
Sound a reveille, sound, sound,
The warrior god is come.

CHORUS OF ALL
Sound the trumpet, |&|c.

MOMUS
Thy sword within the scabbard keep,
         And let mankind agree;
Better the world were fast asleep,
         Than kept awake by thee.
The fools are only thinner,
         With all our cost and care;
But neither side a winner,
         For things are as they were.

CHORUS OF ALL
The fools are only, |&|c.

Enter VENUS
VENUS
Calms appear, when storms are past;
Love will have his hour at last:
Nature is my kindly care;
Mars destroys, and I repair;
Take me, take me, while you may,
Venus comes not ev'ry day.

CHORUS OF ALL
Take her, take her, |&|c.

CHRONOS
The world was then so light,
I scarcely felt the weight;
Joy rul'd the day, and love the night.
But since the Queen of Pleasure left the ground,
         I faint, I lag,
         And feebly drag
The pond'rous Orb around.
All, all of a piece throughout;

pointing {}} to Diana {}}
MOMUS,
Thy chase had a beast in view;

to Mars
Thy wars brought nothing about;

to Venus
Thy lovers were all untrue.

JANUS
'Tis well an old age is out,
And time to begin a new.

CHORUS OF ALL
All, all of a piece throughout;
Thy chase had a beast in view;
Thy wars brought nothing about;
Thy lovers were all untrue.
'Tis well an old age is out,
And time to begin a new.

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Poet John Dryden 1631–1700

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Living, Social Commentaries, Heroes & Patriotism, Time & Brevity, War & Conflict, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

Poetic Terms Refrain

 John  Dryden

Biography

After John Donne and John Milton, John Dryden was the greatest English poet of the seventeenth century. After William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, he was the greatest playwright. And he has no peer as a writer of prose, especially literary criticism, and as a translator. Other figures, such as George Herbert or Andrew Marvell or William Wycherley or William Congreve, may figure more prominently in anthologies and literary . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Social Commentaries, Heroes & Patriotism, Time & Brevity, War & Conflict, Mythology & Folklore, Greek & Roman Mythology

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Refrain

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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