To The Memory Of Mr Oldham.

A poem by John Dryden

Farewell, too little, and too lately known,
Whom I began to think, and call my own:
For sure our souls were near allied, and thine
Cast in the same poetic mould with mine!
One common note on either lyre did strike,
And knaves and fools we both abhorr'd alike.
To the same goal did both our studies drive;
The last set out, the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place,
Whilst his young friend performed, and won the race.
O early ripe! to thy abundant store
What could advancing age have added more?
It might (what nature never gives the young)
Have taught the smoothness of thy native tongue.
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine
Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.
A noble error, and but seldom made,
When poets are by too much force betray'd.
Thy generous fruits, though gather'd ere their prime,
Still show'd a quickness; and maturing time
But mellows what we write, to the dull sweets of rhyme.
Once more, hail! and farewell, farewell, thou young,
But, ah! too short, Marcellus of our tongue!
Thy brows with ivy, and with laurels bound;
But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.

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