POESY

po·e·sy n. pl. po·e·sies 1. Poetical works; poetry. 2. The art or practice of composing poems. 3. The inspiration involved in composing poetry. [Middle English poesie, from Old French, from Latin posis, from Greek poisis, from poiein, to create; see kwei-2 in Indo-European roots.]

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Monday, August 09, 2010

August 9 - John Dryden



John Dryden August 9, 1631 – May 1, 1700

Playwright, poet, essayist, translator, Dryden became a dominant voice in literary circles during England's Restoration period.


The eldest of fourteen children in a Puritan family, Dryden completed his education at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1657, then found work in London in the offices of the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell. His first important poem was a eulogy on Cromwell’s death in 1658.

In 1660 the monarchy was restored and Charles II returned to the throne, an occasion celebrated by Dryden's formal welcome and praise, Astraea Redux. Appointed to the position of Poet Laureate in 1668, Dryden held the post until his dismissal in1688 due to religious differences with William and Mary.

From 1663 to 1678 Dryden wrote many plays, often in collaboration. Heroic tragedy, comedy, satire, some Shakespeare plays reworked (Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending...)

Dryden's translations of classical Greek works by Homer, Ovid, Horace and Virgil brought him more fame and acclaim, and made these literary works accessible to English readers.


Some works by Dryden:


A Song From The Italian
by John Dryden

By a dismal cypress lying,
Damon cried, all pale and dying,
Kind is death that ends my pain,
But cruel she I lov'd in vain.
The mossy fountains
Murmur my trouble,
And hollow mountains
My groans redouble:
Ev'ry nymph mourns me,
Thus while I languish;
She only scorns me,
Who caus'd my anguish.
No love returning me, but all hope denying;
By a dismal cypress lying,
Like a swan, so sung he dying:
Kind is death that ends my pain,
But cruel she I lov'd in vain.



Farewell, Ungrateful Traitor!
by John Dryden

Farewell, ungrateful traitor!
Farewell, my perjur'd swain!
Let never injur'd woman
Believe a man again.
The pleasure of possessing
Surpasses all expressing,
But 'tis too short a blessing,
And love too long a pain.

'Tis easy to deceive us
In pity of your pain,
But when we love, you leave us
To rail at you in vain.
Before we have descried it,
There is no joy beside it,
But she that once has tried it
Will never love again.

The passion you pretended
Was only to obtain,
But once the charm is ended,
The charmer you disdain.
Your love by ours we measure
Till we have lost our treasure,
But dying is a pleasure
When living is a pain.



Happy The Man
by John Dryden

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.



Hidden Flame
by John Dryden

Feed a flame within, which so torments me
That it both pains my heart, and yet contains me:
'Tis such a pleasing smart, and I so love it,
That I had rather die than once remove it.

Yet he, for whom I grieve, shall never know it;
My tongue does not betray, nor my eyes show it.
Not a sigh, nor a tear, my pain discloses,
But they fall silently, like dew on roses.

Thus, to prevent my Love from being cruel,
My heart's the sacrifice, as 'tis the fuel;
And while I suffer this to give him quiet,
My faith rewards my love, though he deny it.

On his eyes will I gaze, and there delight me;
While I conceal my love no frown can fright me.
To be more happy I dare not aspire,
Nor can I fall more low, mounting no higher.


~St. Cecilia is considered the patron saint of musicians

Song For Saint Cecilia's Day, 1687
by John Dryden

From Harmony, from heavenly Harmony
This universal frame began:
When nature underneath a heap
Of jarring atoms lay
And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
Arise, ye more than dead!
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry
In order to their stations leap,
And Music's power obey.
From Harmony, from heavenly harmony
This universal frame began:
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.

What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
When Jubal struck the corded shell
His listening brethren stood around,
And, wondering, on their faces fell
To worship that celestial sound.
Less than a god they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell
That spoke so sweetly and so well.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?

The trumpet's loud clangor
Excites us to arms,
With shrill notes of anger
And mortal alarms.
The double double double beat
Of the thundering drum
Cries 'Hark! the foes come;
Charge, charge, 'tis too late to retreat!'

The soft complaining flute
In dying notes discovers
The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling lute.

Sharp violins proclaim
Their jealous pangs and desperation,
Fury, frantic indignation,
Depths of pains, and height of passion
For the fair disdainful dame.

But oh! what art can teach,
What human voice can reach
The sacred organ's praise?
Notes inspiring holy love,
Notes that wing their heavenly ways
To mend the choirs above.

Orpheus could lead the savage race,
And trees unrooted left their place
Sequacious of the lyre:
But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher:
When to her Organ vocal breath was given
An angel heard, and straight appear'd—
Mistaking Earth for Heaven.

Grand Chorus:

As from the power of sacred lays
The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator's praise
To all the blest 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.


--Cat