A nest of singing birds; Dryden; 23
A nest of singing birds three centuries of English doctorate from just. Wright and others I'm not sure what writing was best known for in his own time. He wrote a lot of plays a number of them in rhyming couplets. He wrote critical and CS translations and much occasional verse but like Pope Dryden has been associated by posterity with the heroic couplet and with satire. In pirates time priestcraft did begin before polygamy was made us see him when man on many multiplied his kind ever one to one was cursedly confined when Nature prompted and no law denied promiscuous use of concubine and bride. Then Israel's monarch after Heaven's own heart his vigorous warmth did variously impart to wives and slaves
and wide as his command scattered his makers image through the land. Others wrote good heroic couplets before Dryden and others wrote verse setter but he was the first major poet to write Bane setter. In very lucid smooth middle if loose sustained heroic couplets that's why he is so firmly associated with satire in couplets grey considered him of the same quality as Milton. If less aspiring in his subject matter. Behold where Dryden's are less presumptuous come. Why are the fields of glory bear two courses of ethereal race with next in thunder closed and of longer sounding pace. Not a bad way of describing Dryden's couplets but Dryden also wrote in stanzas. Here is stanza 6 from the heroic
stanzas to the memory of Oliver Cromwell written in sixteen fifty eight his grand YOUR he derives from heaven alone for he was great. Fortune made him so and was like mists that rise against the sun made him but greatest seem not greater drove some village home to him that with don't last breath the little tyrant of his fields withstood some mute inglorious Milton here may rest some Cromwell Yule of his country's blood. Gray used the same stanza for the energy. Listen to the last stanza to the memory of Oliver Cromwell. His ashes in a peaceful end shall rest his name. A great example stands to show how strangely high endeavors may be blessed where piety and valor jointly
here rests his head upon the lap of earth are you to fortune and to fame unknown science found mark on his humble birth and melancholy it mocked him for Dryden wrote another famous poem in this stanza form. I know smear rabbit It's the year of wonders. Sixteen sixty six which celebrated victories at sea over the Dutch and the Great Fire of London. He wrote an account of the poem to his brother in law said Robert Howard. Listen to what he says there about stanza writing Dryden says the learned languages by which he means Latin and Greek have certainly a great advantage over us in not being tied to the slavery of any rhyme and were less constrained in the quantity of every syllable.
He then goes on. But in this necessity of Rheims I have always found the cup the first most easy though not so proper for this occasion. For there the work is soon at an end. Every two lines concluding the labor of the put But in quatrains he has to carry it farther on another empty so. But to bear on alone in his head the troublesome sentence of four lines together. For those who write correctly in this kind must needs acknowledge that the last line of the stanza is to be considered in the composition of the first. Neither can we give ourselves the liberty of making any part of a verse for the sake of rhyme or concluding with a word which is not current English as he contributed to the development of the heroic couplet in English. So Dryden contributed to the development of the heroic stanza. To be used later by grey beneath those rugged elms
huge trees shade where he was the to in many a moldering heap each in his narrow cell or have made the rude forefathers of the hamlet. It's me. The breezy call of incense breathing moan the Swallow Twittering from the straw built shed the cock's shrill clarion call the echoing horn. No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed for them. No more the blazing hours shall burn or busy housewife plying her evening care. No children round to this their sires return or climb his knees the envied case to share oft to the harvest to their sickle you wear fur off the stubborn Greeba has broke out jock and they drive their team afield.
How about the woods beneath their sturdy stroke. Not ambition mark their useful toil their homely joys and destiny obscure nor grandeur here with a disdainful smile. The short and simple annals of the poor. The boast of heraldry the pomp of power. And all that beauty all that welfare gave awaits a like the inevitable hour of Paths of Glory lead but to the grave in couplet writing the poet doesn't have to think about the fourth line of the stanza. Obviously when he writes the first hit he has more to think of than the next line and its rhyme. He has to think of his paragraph for instance notice this passage from Absalom indicate a fellow Dryden takes
David from the first couplet of the passage to a climax some eighteen lines later. Vast long have hired by native mercy swayed to my wrongs dissembled my rebellion was delayed so willing to forgive the offending age so much the father did the king assuage. But now so far my clemency is very slight. The offenders question my forgiving right where that one was made for many a very contained what is to rule for the acts of monarch said. They call my tenderness of blood my fear the manly temper scanned the longest bear yet since they will divert my native course tis time to show I am not good by force. Those heaped up fronts that haughty subjects bring our burdens for a camel not a king. Kings are the public pillars of the state.
Born to sustain and prop the nations weight. If my young Samson will pretend a call to shake the column. Let him share the four. If you remember Dryden has used the biblical story of David and his son Absalom to comment on contemporary events. Jones The second son had been turned against him as Absalom had been turned against David. Let's take it up that by couplet vas long have I by native mercy swayed to my wrongs dissembled my revenge delayed by native misuse Wade that is ruled by both natural and inborn innate mercy. My Wrongs dissembled that is made my wrongs seem the very opposite of what they were. And we have the perfect crime delayed swayed in the next couplet the rhymes of
age assuage and there's alliteration. Forgive offending father. Listen to the first two words of each line. So we're going to so much to be so willing to forgive the offending age so much. The father did the king this way now he finishes with the past but now so far my plans are very slight. The offenders questioned my forgiving right the offenders question my right to forgive. This is a magnificent piece of satire. David agrees with them that one was made for many. But in order to rule those many That's the purpose of a monarch a monarch and neither one was made for many a vegan Ted but used to rule for the acts of monarchs. Hamlet asks in his famous a bit of query whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer
or to fight. David knows that manly temper suffer or endure the longest temper Driton means spiritual quality. The Temper is the quantity given to steel when it is being tempered. Here we have another beautiful piece of sarcasm. They called my tenderness of blood to my fear though manly tempos can the longest bear yet since they will divert my native course tis time to show I am not good by force. In this passage each cup it leads logically to the next. DRITON says much in few words varying the position of the city or keeping his line smooth but not monotonous. And the thought develops naturally and easily. The speech has a short passage of introductory narrative. David's followers then make a in their master hear they hear God speaking through their
master. With all these loads of injuries are pressed and wrong revolving in his careful breast the event of things. At last his patients tired thus from his royal throne by Heaven inspired the god like David spoke with all for fear his train them maker in them are still here. Vast long have hired by native mercy swayed my wrongs dissembled my rebellion was delayed. So willing to forgive the offending age so much the father did the king assuage but now so far my permanency is very slight. The offenders question my forgiving right where that one was made for many a very contained what is to rule for the acts of monarch said.
They call my tenderness of blood to my fear the manly temper scanned the longest bear. Yet since they will divert my native course it is time to show I am not good by force. Those heaps of friends that haughty subjects bring our burdens for a camel not a king. Kings are the public pillars of the state. Born to sustain and prop the nations weight. If my young Samson will pretend a call to shake the column. Let him share about four dragons touch is delightfully tactful and yet devastating when he recounts how Absalom begins to succumb to Achitophel was tempting. What cannot praise effect in mighty minds when flattery Sue and when ambition blind desire of power on earth a vicious weed yet sprung from high use of celestial seed in God to His glory and when men aspire to his but a
spark too much of Heavenly Fire. The ambitious you too covetous of fame are too full of angels mettle in his frame unwarily was led from virtues waves may drunk with honor and debauch too with praise half loath and half consenting to the ill or loyal blood within him struggled still he thus replied. And what pretense have I to take up arms for public liberty the first couplet of that passage was smooth in every way with its reference to one thousand minds desire of power is after all heavenly in its origin. DRITON tongue is so neatly in his cheek. The ambitious youth was led unwarily and I left this line made drunk with honor and did both with praise. Notice the skill variation of rhythm in these two lines followed by a third.
My father governs with unquestioned right. The faiths defended Imam Kimes delight. Good gracious yes observant of the laws and so the passage continues easily and inevitably to these two couplets mild easy humble studious about good inclined to Missy and a verse from blood blood and good well good rhymes in 16 81 when Dryden wrote this poem. Mild means merciful. Easy means not strict not harsh studious of our good making our well-being the object of his study we tend to read the next line metaphorically inclined to Missy and a verse from blood. But I think that for Dryden there may well have been a literal image of David actually turning physically towards mercy and away from bloodshed. Now Dryden has
prepared the ground for the stab of the next couple it if David is to be blamed for mildness that is clemency. We are courting a quality in him a crime which we praise and love as an attribute of God. Mild easy humble studios of our good inclined to mercy under a verse from blood if mildness ill with stubborn Israel suit his crime is God's beloved attribute. Let's hear the passage through again now without interruption. Notice the inevitable development from what cannot to God's beloved attribute what cannot praise effect in mighty mind when flattery soo And when ambition blind desire of power on earth a vicious weed yet sprung from high use of celestial seed in God to His glory. And
when men aspire to his but a spark too much of Heavenly Fire. The ambitious you too covetous of fame too full of angels mettle in his frame unwarily was led from virtues waves made drunk with honor and botched with praise half loaves and half consenting to the ill loyal blood within him struggles till the last replied. And what pretense have I to take up arms for public liberty. My father governs with unquestioned right the faiths defender and mankind's delight. Good gracious just observant of the laws and heaven by wonders has a spouse to his cause whom has he wronged in all his peaceful reign who is for justice to his throne in vain. What millions has he pardoned of his foes whom just revenge did to his wrath expose mild
easy humble studious of our good inclined to mercy under a verse from blood if mildness ill with stubborn Israel suit his crime is God's beloved attribute. Some of our earlier programs have dealt with kaput writing from the time of Nicholas criminals in the mid 16th century onwards. Here's the passage from his poem on his mother's death. Your daughters wept whom you so well had. But my good sire gave with soft words really and cloaks without would cheer his inward grief lest by his care your sickness should augment and on his case. Your thought for me Ben now will jump forward some two hundred twenty years.
Sweet was the sound went off that evening's close up beyond the village Mahmoud. There is I passed with careless steps in the mingling tones came so often from below the swain responsive is the milkmaid sound. The sober heard that load to meet their young the noisy geese that gabbled or the poor the playful children just let loose from school the watch dogs a voice the whispering wind and the loud laugh that spoke the vacant. These old and sweet confusions saw the shade and feel each pause the Nightingale had made. Right now the sounds of population cheerfulness to aid in the no busy steps the grass grown footwear tread for all the bloomy flush of life has led all but young
widowed solitary thing that feebly bends beside the precious ring. She wretched matron forced an age for bread to strip the brook with mantling cresses bread. To pick her wintry faggot from the throne to seek her nightly shedding tears she only left the harmless train the sad story of the pensive plan that comes from Oliver Goldsmith's the deserted village. It's delicate in tone competently put together but it isn't very stimulating as I know it streaking evening in the countryside but Grey does that too. And his lines are stimulating as out now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight and all the air a solemn stillness save where the beat is droning flight and drowsy tingling love the distance.
Goldsmith gives us one memorable line and a loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind the deserted villages a few more passages which have become almost proverbial. Ill Fares the Land to a hastening of prey where wealth accumulates and men decay. Perhaps you remember these words on the village schoolmaster but still they gazed and still the wonder grew that one small hand could carry all he knew. Goldsmith has some bite to him however the man of wealth and pride takes up a space that many poor supplied space for his lake his parks extended bounds space for his horses equipped and hounds the robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth has robbed the neighboring fields of HOF their
growth. Let's return to Dryden. Back almost a hundred years before the deserted village. When Dryden wrote a song for St. Cecilia's Day in 69 he said he was still philosophically in a world peopled with ideas soon to be completely displaced in this celebration of the patron saint of music. Dryden has not abandoned the old view that the divine act of creation was a conversion of chaos into order of discord into harmony. He uses neoplatonic and Python Gorean terminology treating the universe as a harmony of numbers as an act of music from the harmony from heavenly harmony this universal frame began where nature underneath a heap of jarring atoms lay and could not heaved her head the tuneful voice was heard from a high. All right easy more than dead then cold and hot
and dry. In order to their stations the leap and music's power from Harmony from heavenly harmony this universal frame began from harmony to harmony through all like compass of the notes it ran the DiaB pays unclosing full in for Driton music was there at the beginning of things. And for Dryden music will be there at the ending of things as from the power of sacred relays the spheres began to move and sung the great creator's praise to all the blessed about of. So when the last done dreadful hour this crumbling pageant shall devour but trumpets will be heard on high. The dead surely of the living die and music shall out in the sky.
In the first stanza the tuneful voice on high organizes the four elements earth air fire water cold and hot and moist and dry. It was believed that these four elements were the basic elements of matter. The Earth dry and cold air moist and hot. Fire dry and hot water moist and cold. Before creation these elements in perpetual conflict were believed to be for ever coming together splitting coming together again making innumerable varieties of forms all transitory gone as soon as made the divine act of creation organize these elements in a perpetual circle or dance the heat of air was linked to the heat of fire fire. Apart from being hot it was dry. This dryness was linked to the dryness of the earth dry and cold was linked. On the other side to the coldness of water water cold and moist had its
moistness linked to that of air. As we've seen the heat of moist and hot was linked to the heat of fire and so we have a closed linked circle in which conflict is resolved into harmony from the harmony from the heavenly harmony this universal frame began. When nature underneath a heap of jarring atoms away and could not heave her head the tuneful voice was heard from a high. All right easy more than dead then cold and hot and dry. In order to this station's leap and music's power from Harmony from heavenly harmony this universal frame began from harmony to harmony through all the compass of the notes it ran the DiaB pays and closing full in the day of judgment brings the end of the world.
All that was created by music will now be annihilated by music. The angels will blow their trumpets at what Dunn calls the round in its imagined corners. We've hardly touched on Dryden's large and varied output. Perhaps it is not misleading to agree that he may well have shown his unique quality and his satirical heroic couplets as I said before. Others wrote verse satire and others wrote here very couplets before him but I think it is fair to say that few if any before him were able to write sustained passages of couplets with his Benedetti with his wit his couplets are so amusing so civilized to write them requires impeccable control of words and ability to think ahead to construct coherent blocks of expression with each part related precisely to every other and to the whole monotone manages occasional couplet such as these in here and Rand. He kneeled down to her devoutly prayed
chaste hero to herself thus softly said well I'm a saint he worships. I would hear him. And as she spoke these words came someone knew him. But Dryden can continue the line after line. Here is the God the absolute Emperor nonsense in that flecked know the devastating satire on Dryden's rival poet and playwright Thomas Shadwell the Emperor nonsense decides to arrange his succession and he won out with business did at length debate to settle the succession of the state and pondering which of all his sons was fit to reign and wage a mortal war on wit. So nonsense decides as follows He should only rule who most resembles me. Shadwell alone my perfect image bears mature in downness from his tender years.
Shadwell alone of all my sons is he who stands confirmed in full stupidity caressed to some faint meaning make pretense but Shadwell never deviates into sense sunbeams of wit on other souls may for strike through and make a lucid interval. But Shad Wells January night admits no re his rising fogs prevail upon the day. But that is more a bludgeon than rapier to remind us it was of Dryden with the blade in his hand. Let's hear the beginning of Absalom and Achitophel again in pious times. Yeah a priest craft did begin before polygamy was made. See. When men on many multiply kind to one was on fire and you have been listening to a program on Dryden and others.
The verse was read by shot a devotee and Jonathan thought well this is just thanking you to be with us again next week. This program was produced by Radio Broadcast Services of the University of Washington under a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the national educational radio network.
- A nest of singing birds
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