John Henry Dryden

Here you will find the Poem Prologue To Sophonisba; Spoken at Oxford, 1680 of poet John Henry Dryden

Prologue To Sophonisba; Spoken at Oxford, 1680

Thespis, the first professor of our art, 
At country wakes, sung ballads from a cart. 
To prove this true, if Latin be no trespass, 
Dicitur et plaustris vexisse poemata Thespis. 
But Æschylus, says Horace in some page, 
Was the first mountebank that trod the stage: 
Yet Athens never knew your learned sport, 
Of tossing poets in a tennis-court. 
But 'tis the talent of our English nation, 
Still to be plotting some new reformation; 
And few years hence, if anarchy goes on, 
Jack Presbyter shall here erect his throne, 
Knock out a tub with preaching once a day, 
And every prayer be longer than a play. 
Then all your heathen wits shall go to pot, 
For disbelieving of a Popish Plot; 
Nor should we scape the sentence, to depart, 
Even in our first original, a cart; 
Your poets shall be used like infidels, 
And worst, the author of the Oxford bells; 
No zealous brother there would want a stone, 
To maul us cardinals, and pelt Pope Joan. 
Religion, learning, wit, would be supprest, 
Rags of the whore, and trappings of the beast; 
Scot, Suarez, Tom of Aquin, must go down, 
As chief supporters of the triple crown; 
And Aristotle's for destruction ripe; 
Some say, he called the soul an organ-pipe, 
Which, by some little help of derivation, 
Shall then be proved a pipe of inspiration.