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Classic Poetry from Passions in Poetry

John Dryden 1631 - 1700

English text, dramatist, literary critic, translator, poet laureate and royal historiographer. Dryden's immense stature upon the literary horizon of his time was so great that his age has often been called 'The Age of Dryden'. His first major works were works of poetry: the Heroique Stanza's (1658) written on the death of Cromwell and the celebrations of King James II's restoration; the Astraea Redux (1660) and the To His Sacred Majesty (1661). These were followed, in 1667, by the thrice celebratory work Annus Mirabilis (1667), written upon the occasion of two English victories over the Dutch fleet and the extinguishing of the Great Fire of London. Other works from Dryden's earlier period were mainly for the theatre. These include heroic works such as The Indian Queen (1664), The Indian Emporer (1665) and The Conquest of Granada (1669); comic works: The Wild Gallant (1663), The Rival Ladies (1664) and An Evening's Love (1668); and tragi-comic works. These latter include Secret Love (1667), Marriage a la Mode (1672) and The Assignation (1672). Dryden also adapted works by Shakespeare - The Tempest (1667) and Troilus and Cressida (1679) - and Milton (Paradise Lost) and wrote a number of critical texts, including Of Dramatick Poesie (1668), A Defence of an Essay (1668) and Of Heroic Plays (1672).


Dryden was educated first at Westminster School and then at Trinity College, Cambridge. His first poetic works were written upon occasions of national importance. In 1663 he married Lady Elizabeth Howard and some years later, in 1668, was made poet laureate and royal historiographer, posts that he held until 1688.

During this period Dryden wrote a number of critical essays - including A Defence of an Essay (1668), the Preface to An Evening's Love (1671), Of Heroick Plays (1672) and the Preface to Troilus and Cressida (1679) - and three plays in which are marked the effects, upon Dryden, of the constitutional crisis of the 1670's: The Duke of Guise (1679), Mr Limberham (1679) and The Spanish Fryar (1681).

In the early 1680's Dryden became a Catholic and then wrote the religious work The Hind and the Panther (1687). In 1688 he lost both of his royal offices and returned to writing both for the theatre and critical pieces. The notable plays from this late period are Don Sebastion (1689), Amphitryon (1690) and Cleomenes (1692). The criticism includes the Preface to the Sylvae (1685) and A Discourse Concerning the Original and Progress of Satire (1693).

Dryden also worked, during this period on a large number of translations of, among others, Theocritus, Horace, Homer, Lucretius, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Ovid and Persius. In 1700 Dryden was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Available Poems
Alexander's Feast; Or, The Power of Music
Song for Saint Cecilia's Day
Song, from An Evening's Love
Song, from Marriage-a-la-Mode
To the Memory of Mr Oldham

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