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Prologue Spoken the First Day of the King's House Acting After the Fire

John Dryden 1631 (Aldwincle) – 1631 (London)

So shipwracked passengers escape to land,
So look they, when on the bare beach they stand,
Dropping and cold, and their first fear scarce o'er,
Expecting famine on a desert shore.
From that hard climate we must wait for bread,
Whence even the natives, forced by hunger, fled.
Our stage does human chance present to view,
But ne'er before was seen so sadly true:
You are changed too, and your pretence to see
Is but a nobler name for charity.
Your own provisions furnish out our feasts,
While you, the founders, make yourselves the guests.
Of all mankind beside, fate had some care,
But for poor Wit no portion did prepare,
'Tis left a rent-charge to the brave and fair.
You cherished it, and now its fall you mourn,
Which blind unmannered zealots make their scorn,
Who think that fire a judgment on the stage,
Which spared not temples in its furious rage.
But as our new-built city rises higher,
So from old theatres may new aspire,
Since fate contrives magnificence by fire.
Our great metropolis does far surpass
Whate'er is now, and equals all that was:
Our wit as far does foreign wit excel,
And, like a king, should in a palace dwell.
But we with golden hopes are vainly fed
Talk high, and entertain you in a shed:
Your presence here, for which we humbly sue
Will grace old theatres, and build up new.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:12 min read
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John Dryden

John Dryden was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was made Poet Laureate in 1668. more…

All John Dryden poems | John Dryden Books

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