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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Prologues and Epilogues
Prologue to The Rival Ladies
 
’TIS 1 much desir’d, you Judges of the Town
Would pass a vote to put all Prologues down;
For who can show me, since they first were writ,
They e’r converted one hard-harted Wit?
Yet the World’s mended well; in former Days        5
Good Prologues were as scarce as now good Plays.
For the reforming Poets of our Age
In this first Charge spend their poetique rage.
Expect no more when once the Prologue’s done;
The wit is ended ere the Play’s begun.        10
You now have Habits, Dances, Scenes, and Rhymes,
High Language often, ay, and Sense sometimes.
As for a clear Contrivance, doubt it not;
They blow out Candles to give Light to th’ Plot.
And for Surprize, two Bloody-minded Men        15
Fight till they dye, then rise and dance again.
Such deep Intrigues you’re welcome to this Day:
But blame your Selves, not him who writ the Play.
Though his Plot’s dull as can be well desir’d,
Wit stiff as any you have e’r admir’d,        20
He’s bound to please, not to write well, and knows
There is a mode in Playes as well as Cloaths;
Therefore, kind Judges—

A Second Prologue enters.
  2.                Hold! would you admit
For Judges all you see within the Pit?
  1.  Whom would he then except, or on what Score?        25
  2.  All who (like him) have writ ill Plays before;
For they, like Thieves condemn’d, are hangmen made
To execute the Members of their Trade.
All that are writing now he would disown,
But then he must except—ev’n all the Town;        30
All Chol’rique losing Gamesters, who in spight
Will damn to Day, because they lost last Night;
All Servants, whom their Mistress’ Scorn upbraids,
All Maudlin Lovers, and all slighted Maids,
All who are out of Humour or severe,        35
All that want Wit, or hope to find it here.
 
Note 1. Text from the original edition of 1664. [back]
 
 
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