The Hind and the Panther: Part I (excerpts)

John Dryden 1631 (Aldwincle) – 1631 (London)

A milk-white Hind, immortal and unchang'd,
   Fed on the lawns, and in the forest rang'd;
   Without unspotted, innocent within,
   She fear'd no danger, for she knew no sin.
   Yet had she oft been chas'd with horns and hounds
   And Scythian shafts; and many winged wounds
   Aim'd at her heart; was often forc'd to fly,
   And doom'd to death, though fated not to die.

      Not so her young; for their unequal line
  Was hero's make, half human, half divine.
  Their earthly mold obnoxious was to fate,
  Th' immortal part assum'd immortal state.
  Of these a slaughter'd army lay in blood,
  Extended o'er the Caledonian wood,
  Their native walk; whose vocal blood arose,
  And cried for pardon on their perjur'd foes.
  Their fate was fruitful, and the sanguine seed,
  Endued with souls, increas'd the sacred breed.
  So captive Israel multiplied in chains,
  A numerous exile, and enjoy'd her pains.
  With grief and gladness mix'd, their mother view'd
  Her martyr'd offspring, and their race renew'd;
  Their corps to perish, but their kind to last,
  So much the deathless plant the dying fruit surpass'd.

     Panting and pensive now she rang'd alone,
  And wander'd in the kingdoms, once her own.
  The common hunt, tho' from their rage restrain'd
  By sov'reign pow'r, her company disdain'd;
  Grinn'd as they pass'd, and with a glaring eye
  Gave gloomy signs of secret enmity.
  'T is true, she bounded by, and tripp'd so light,
  They had not time to take a steady sight,
  For Truth has such a face and such a mien,
  As to be lov'd needs only to be seen.

     The bloody Bear, an Independent beast,
  Unlick'd to form, in groans her hate express'd.
  Among the timorous kind the Quaking Hare
  Profess'd neutrality, but would not swear.
  Next her the buffoon Ape, as atheists use,
  Mimick'd all sects, and had his own to choose:
  Still when the Lion look'd, his knees he bent,
  And paid at church a courtier's compliment.

     The bristled Baptist Boar, impure as he,
  (But whiten'd with the foam of sanctity,)
  With fat pollutions fill'd the sacred place,
  And mountains levell'd in his furious race:
  So first rebellion founded was in grace.
  But since the mighty ravage which he made
  In German forests had his guilt betray'd,
  With broken tusks, and with a borrow'd name,
  He shunn'd the vengeance, and conceal'd the shame;
  So lurk'd in sects unseen. With greater guile
  False Reynard fed on consecrated spoil:
  The graceless beast by Athanasius first
  Was chas'd from Nice; then, by Socinus nurs'd,
  His impious race their blasphemy renew'd,
  And nature's King through nature's optics view'd.
  Revers'd, they view'd him lessen'd to their eye,
  Nor in an infant could a God descry:
  New swarming sects to this obliquely tend,
  Hence they began, and here they all will end.

     What weight of ancient witness can prevail,
  If private reason hold the public scale?
  But, gracious God, how well dost thou provide
  For erring judgments an unerring guide!
  Thy throne is darkness in th' abyss of light,
  A blaze of glory that forbids the sight.
  O teach me to believe Thee thus conceal'd,
  And search no farther than Thyself reveal'd;
  But her alone for my director take,
  Whom Thou hast promis'd never to forsake!
  My thoughtless youth was wing'd with vain desires,
  My manhood, long misled by wand'ring fires,
  Follow'd false lights; and when their glimpse was gone,
  My pride struck out new sparkles of her own.
  Such was I, such by nature still I am,
  Be thine the glory, and be mine the shame.
  Good life be now my task: my doubts are done:
  (What more could fright my faith, than Three in One?)
  Can I believe eternal God could lie
  Disguis'd in mortal mould and infancy?
  That the great Maker of the world could die?
  And after that trust my imperfect sense
  Which calls in question his omnipotence?
  Can I my reason to my faith compel,
  And shall my sight, and touch, and taste rebel?
  Superior faculties are set aside,
  Shall their subservient organs be my guide?
  Then let the moon usurp the rule of day,
  And winking tapers show the sun his way;
  For what my senses can themselves perceive,
  I need no revelation to believe.

     The Panther, sure the noblest, next the Hind,
  And fairest creature of the spotted kind;
  Oh, could her inborn stains be wash'd away,
  She were too good to be a beast of prey!
  How can I praise, or blame, and not offend,
  Or how divide the frailty fro
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 13, 2023

4:03 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,376
Words 750
Stanzas 7
Stanza Lengths 8, 16, 10, 8, 19, 31, 7

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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