John Dryden

(1631 - 1700 / England)

Suum Cuique - Poem by John Dryden

When lawless men their neighbours dispossess,
The tenants they extirpate or oppress,
And make rude havoc in the fruitful soil,
Which the right owners ploughed with careful toil.
The same proportion does in kingdoms hold;
A new prince breaks the fences of the old,
And will o'er carcases and deserts reign,
Unless the land its rightful lord regain.
He gripes the faithless owners of the place,
And buys a foreign army to deface
The feared and hated remnant of their race;
He starves their forces, and obstructs their trade;
Vast sums are given, and yet no native paid.
The church itself he labours to assail,
And keeps fit tools to break the sacred pale.
Of those let him the guilty roll commence,
Who has betrayed a master and a prince;
A man, seditious, lewd, and impudent;
An engine always mischievously bent;
One who from all the bans of duty swerves,
No tie can hold but that which he deserves;
An author dwindled to a pamphleteer;
Skilful to forge, and always insincere;
Careless exploded practices to mend;
Bold to attack, yet feeble to defend.
Fate's blindfold reign the atheist loudly owns,
And providence blasphemously dethrones.
In vain the leering actor strains his tongue
To cheat, with tears and empty noise, the throng;
Since all men know, whate'er he says or writes,
Revenge, or stronger interest, indites;
And that the wretch employs his venal wit
How to confute what formerly he writ.
Next him the grave Socinian claims a place,
Endowed with reason, though bereft of grace;
A preaching pagan of surpassing fame,
No register records his borrowed name.
O, had the child more happily been bred,
A radiant mitre would have graced his head:
But now unfit, the most he should expect,
Is to be entered of T&wblank; F&wblank;'s sect.
To him succeeds, with looks demurely sad,
A gloomy soul, with revelation mad;
False to his friend, and careless of his word;
A dreaming prophet, and a gripping lord;
He sells the livings which he can't possess,
And forms that sinecure, his diocese.
Unthinking man! to quit thy barren see
And vain endeavours in chronology,
For the more fruitless care of royal charity.
Thy hoary noddle warns thee to return,
The treason of old age in Wales to mourn;
Nor think the city-poor may less sustain,
Thy place may well be vacant in this reign.
I should admit the booted prelate now,
But he is even for lampoon too low;
The scum and outcast of a royal race,
The nation's grievance, and the gown's disgrace.
None so unlearned did e'er at London sit;
This driveller does the sacred chair besh---t.
I need not brand the spiritual parricide,
Nor draw the weapon dangling by his side;
The astonished world remembers that offence,
And knows he stole the daughter of his prince.
'Tis time enough, in some succeeding age,
To bring this mitred captain on the stage.
These are the leaders in apostasy,
And the blind guides of poor elective majesty;
A thing which commonwealths-men did devise,
Till plots were ripe, to catch the people's eyes.
Their king's a monster, in a quagmire born,
Of all the native brutes the grief and scorn;
With a big snout, cast in a crooked mould,
Which runs with glanders and an inborn cold;
His substance is of clammy snot and phlegm;
Sleep is his essence, and his life a dream.
To Caprea this Tiberius does retire,
To quench with catamite his feeble fire.
Dear catamite! who rules alone the state,
While monarch dozes on his unpropt height,
Silent, yet thoughtless, and secure of fate.
Could you but see the fulsome hero led
By loathing vassals to his noble bed!
In flannel robes the coughing ghost does walk,
And his mouth moats like cleaner breech of hawk;
Corruption, springing from his cankered breast,
Furs up the channel, and disturbs his rest.
With head propt up, the bolstered engine lies;
If pillow slip aside, the monarch dies.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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