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Three Poems by John Dryden

John Dryden — his name defined a literary period
John Dryden — his name defined a literary period

Happy the Man

  • Happy the man, and happy he alone,
  • He who can call today his own:
  • He who, secure within, can say,
  • Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
  • Be fair or foul or rain or shine
  • The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
  • Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
  • But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

Can Life Be a Blessing

  • Can life be a blessing,
  • Or worth the possessing,
  • Can life be a blessing if love were away?
  • Ah no! though our love all night keep us waking,
  • And though he torment us with cares all the day,
  • Yet he sweetens, he sweetens our pains in the taking,
  • There’s an hour at the last, there’s an hour to repay.
  • In ev’ry possessing,
  • The ravishing blessing,
  • In ev’ry possessing the fruit of our pain,
  • Poor lovers forget long ages of anguish,
  • Whate’er they have suffer’d and done to obtain;
  • ’Tis a pleasure, a pleasure to sigh and to languish,
  • When we hope, when we hope to be happy again

Ah, How Sweet It Is to Love!

  • Ah, how sweet it is to love!
  • Ah, how gay is young Desire!
  • And what pleasing pains we prove
  • When we first approach Love’s fire!
  • Pains of love be sweeter far
  • Than all other pleasures are.
  • Sighs which are from lovers blown
  • Do but gently heave the heart:
  • Ev’n the tears they shed alone
  • Cure, like trickling balm, their smart:
  • Lovers, when they lose their breath,
  • Bleed away in easy death.
  • Love and Time with reverence use,
  • Treat them like a parting friend;
  • Nor the golden gifts refuse
  • Which in youth sincere they send:
  • For each year their price is more,
  • And they less simple than before.
  • Love, like spring-tides full and high,
  • Swells in every youthful vein;
  • But each tide does less supply,
  • Till they quite shrink in again:
  • If a flow in age appear,
  • ’Tis but rain, and runs not clear.

John Dryden (1631–1700) was an English poet, critic, translator, and playwright. He was named Poet Laureate of England in 1668, and his name had literally defined the literary period of Restoration England (1660–1714) — known as the Age of Dryden. Best known for his translation of Vergil’s Aeneid, he is also remembered for his satires, including Mac Flecknoe and Absalom and Achitophel.

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John Dryden — his name defined a literary period
John Dryden — his name defined a literary period

Happy the Man

  • Happy the man, and happy he alone,
  • He who can call today his own:
  • He who, secure within, can say,
  • Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
  • Be fair or foul or rain or shine
  • The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
  • Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
  • But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

Can Life Be a Blessing

  • Can life be a blessing,
  • Or worth the possessing,
  • Can life be a blessing if love were away?
  • Ah no! though our love all night keep us waking,
  • And though he torment us with cares all the day,
  • Yet he sweetens, he sweetens our pains in the taking,
  • There’s an hour at the last, there’s an hour to repay.
  • In ev’ry possessing,
  • The ravishing blessing,
  • In ev’ry possessing the fruit of our pain,
  • Poor lovers forget long ages of anguish,
  • Whate’er they have suffer’d and done to obtain;
  • ’Tis a pleasure, a pleasure to sigh and to languish,
  • When we hope, when we hope to be happy again

Ah, How Sweet It Is to Love!

  • Ah, how sweet it is to love!
  • Ah, how gay is young Desire!
  • And what pleasing pains we prove
  • When we first approach Love’s fire!
  • Pains of love be sweeter far
  • Than all other pleasures are.
  • Sighs which are from lovers blown
  • Do but gently heave the heart:
  • Ev’n the tears they shed alone
  • Cure, like trickling balm, their smart:
  • Lovers, when they lose their breath,
  • Bleed away in easy death.
  • Love and Time with reverence use,
  • Treat them like a parting friend;
  • Nor the golden gifts refuse
  • Which in youth sincere they send:
  • For each year their price is more,
  • And they less simple than before.
  • Love, like spring-tides full and high,
  • Swells in every youthful vein;
  • But each tide does less supply,
  • Till they quite shrink in again:
  • If a flow in age appear,
  • ’Tis but rain, and runs not clear.

John Dryden (1631–1700) was an English poet, critic, translator, and playwright. He was named Poet Laureate of England in 1668, and his name had literally defined the literary period of Restoration England (1660–1714) — known as the Age of Dryden. Best known for his translation of Vergil’s Aeneid, he is also remembered for his satires, including Mac Flecknoe and Absalom and Achitophel.

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