Prologue To Tyrannic Love.

A poem by John Dryden

Self-love, which, never rightly understood,
Makes poets still conclude their plays are good,
And malice in all critics reigns so high,
That for small errors, they whole plays decry;
So that to see this fondness, and that spite,
You'd think that none but madmen judge or write,
Therefore our poet, as he thinks not fit
To impose upon you what he writes for wit;
So hopes, that, leaving you your censures free,
You equal judges of the whole will be:
They judge but half, who only faults will see.
Poets, like lovers, should be bold and dare,
They spoil their business with an over care;
And he, who servilely creeps after sense,
Is safe, but ne'er will reach an excellence.
Hence 'tis, our poet, in his conjuring,
Allow'd his fancy the full scope and swing.
But when a tyrant for his theme he had,
He loosed the reins, and bid his muse run mad:
And though he stumbles in a full career,
Yet rashness is a better fault than fear.
He saw his way; but in so swift a pace,
To choose the ground might be to lose the race.
They, then, who of each trip the advantage take,
Find but those faults, which they want wit to make.

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