Prologue To "Circe," A Tragic Opera; By Dr Davenant, 1675.

A poem by John Dryden

Were you but half so wise as you're severe,
Our youthful poet should not need to fear:
To his green years your censures you would suit,
Not blast the blossom, but expect the fruit.
The sex, the best does pleasure understand,
Will always choose to err on the other hand.
They check not him that's awkward in delight,
But clap the young rogue's cheek, and set him right.
Thus hearten'd well, and flesh'd upon his prey,
The youth may prove a man another day.
Your Ben and Fletcher, in their first young flight,
Did no Volpone, nor Arbaces write;
But hopp'd about, and short excursions made
From bough to bough, as if they were afraid,
And each was guilty of some Slighted Maid.
Shakspeare's own muse her Pericles first bore;
The Prince of Tyre was elder than the Moor:
'Tis miracle to see a first good play;
All hawthorns do not bloom on Christmas-day.
A slender poet must have time to grow,
And spread and burnish, as his brothers do.
Who still looks lean, sure with some pox is cursed:
But no man can be Falstaff-fat at first.
Then damn not, but indulge his rude essays;
Encourage him, and bloat him up with praise,
That he may get more bulk before he dies:
He's not yet fed enough for sacrifice.
Perhaps, if now your grace you will not grudge,
He may grow up to write, and you to judge.

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