Prologue To The University Of Oxford, 1681.

A poem by John Dryden

The famed Italian Muse, whose rhymes advance
Orlando and the Paladins of France,
Records, that, when our wit and sense is flown,
'Tis lodged within the circle of the moon,
In earthen jars, which one, who thither soar'd,
Set to his nose, snuff'd up, and was restored.
Whate'er the story be, the moral's true;
The wit we lost in town, we find in you.
Our poets their fled parts may draw from hence,
And fill their windy heads with sober sense.
When London votes with Southwark's disagree,
Here may they find their long-lost loyalty.
Here busy senates, to the old cause inclined,
May snuff the votes their fellows left behind:
Your country neighbours, when their grain grows dear,
May come, and find their last provision here:
Whereas we cannot much lament our loss,
Who neither carried back, nor brought one cross.
We look'd what representatives would bring;
But they help'd us, just as they did the king.
Yet we despair not; for we now lay forth
The Sibyl's books to those who know their worth;
And though the first was sacrificed before,
These volumes doubly will the price restore.
Our poet bade us hope this grace to find,
To whom by long prescription you are kind.
He whose undaunted Muse, with loyal rage,
Has never spared the vices of the age,
Here finding nothing that his spleen can raise,
Is forced to turn his satire into praise.

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