To the Memory of Mr. Oldham

By John Dryden 1631–1700 John Dryden
Farewell, too little and too lately known,
Whom I began to think and call my own;
For sure our souls were near ally'd; and thine
Cast in the same poetic mould with mine.
One common note on either lyre did strike,
And knaves and fools we both abhorr'd alike:
To the same goal did both our studies drive,
The last set out the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place,
While his young friend perform'd and won the race.
O early ripe! to thy abundant store
What could advancing age have added more?
It might (what nature never gives the young)
Have taught the numbers of thy native tongue.
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine
Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.
A noble error, and but seldom made,
When poets are by too much force betray'd.
Thy generous fruits, though gather'd ere their prime
Still show'd a quickness; and maturing time
But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of rhyme.
Once more, hail and farewell; farewell thou young,
But ah too short, Marcellus of our tongue;
Thy brows with ivy, and with laurels bound;
But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.

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Poet John Dryden 1631–1700

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Friends & Enemies, Living, Youth, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

Poetic Terms Elegy, Couplet

 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 Friends & Enemies, Living, Youth, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Elegy, Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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