Joseph Addison

(1672-1719 / England)

To Mr. Dryden


How long, great Poet, shall thy sacred lays
Provoke our wonder, and transcend our praise?
Can eneither injuries of time, or age,
Damp thy poetic heat, and quench thy rage?
No so thy Ovid in his exile wrote,
Grief chill'd his breast,and check'd his rising thought:
Pensive and sad, his drooping Muse betrays
The Roman genius in its last decays.
Prevailing warmth has still thy mind possest,
And second youth is kindled in thy breast;
Thou mak'st the beauties of the Romans known,
And England boasts of riches not her own;
Thy lines have heighten'd Virgil's majesty,
And Horace wonders at himself in thee.
Thou teachest Persius to inform our isle
In smoother numbers, and a clearer style;
And Juvenal, instructed in thy page,
Edges his satire, and improves his rage,
Thy copy casts a fairer light on all,
And still out-shines, the bright original.
Now Ovid boasts th' advanage of thy song,
And tells his story in the British tongue;
Thy charming verse, and fair translations, show
How thy own laurel first began to grow:
How wild Lycaon, chang'd by angry gods,
And frighted at himself, ran howling through the woods.
O may'st thou still the noble talk prolong,
Nor age, nor sickness, interrupt thy song:
Then may we wondering read, how human limbs
Have water'd kingdoms, and dissolv'd in streams;
Of those rich fruits that on the fertile mold
Turn'd yellow by degrees, and ripen'd into gold:
How some in feathers, or a ragged hide,
Have liv'd a second life, and different natures try'd.
Then will thy Ovid, thus transform'd, reveal
A nobler change than he himself can tell.

Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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