by: John Dryden

      LL human things are subject to decay,
      And, when fate summons, monarchs must obey.
      This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young
      Was called to empire, and had governed long;
      In prose and verse was found without dispute,
      Through all the realms of Nonsense, absolute.
      This agèd prince, now flourished in peace,
      And blessed with issue of a large increase,
      Worn 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 immortal war with wit,
      Cried,--"'Tis resolved! for nature pleads, that he
      Should only rule, who most resembles me.
      Shadwell alone my perfect image bears,
      Mature in dulness from his tender years;
      Shadwell alone, of all my sons, is he,
      Who stands confirmed in full stupidity.
      The rest to some faint meaning make pretence,
      But Shadwell never deviates into sense;
      Some beams of wit on other souls may fall,
      Strike through, and make a lucid interval;
      But Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray,
      His rising fogs prevail upon the day.
      Besides, his goodly fabric fills the eye,
      And seems designed for thoughtless majesty;
      Thoughtless as monarch oaks, that shade the plain,
      And, spread in solemn state, supinely reign.
      Heywood and Shirley were but types of thee,
      Thou last great prophet of tautology!
      Even I, a dunce of more renown than they,
      Was sent before but to prepare the way;
      And, coarsely clad in Norwich drugget, came
      To teach the nation in thy greater name."

'Mac Flecknoe' is reprinted from English Poems. Ed. Edward Chauncey Baldwin. New York: American Book Company, 1908.



  • John Dryden - A biography of the Restoration dramatist.
  • John Dryden (1631-1700) - A biography of the Restoration dramatist.
  • Restoration Drama - An overview of Restoration theatre; includes information on the appearance of women on the English stage, the persistance of Elizabethan plays, parody of heroic drama, the nature of Restoration comedy, women playwrights, and Collier's attack on the stage.
  • Purchase books by John Dryden


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