Discourses on Satire & Epic Poetry

Discourses on Satire & Epic Poetry

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Discourses on Satire & Epic Poetry by John Dryden

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165

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Discourses on Satire & Epic Poetry

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Book Excerpt

me modern reader of the introductory discourse has first to pass through the unmeasured compliments to the Earl of Dorset, which represent a real esteem and gratitude in the extravagant terms then proper to the art of dedication. We get to the free sea over a slimy shore. We must remember that Charles the Second upon his death was praised by Charles Montague, who knew his faults, as "the best good man that ever filled a throne," and compared to God Himself at the end of the first paragraph of Montague's poem. But when we are clear of the conventional unmeasured flatteries, and Dryden lingers among epic poets on his way to the satirists, there is equal interest in the mistaken criticisms, in the aspirations that are blended with them, and in the occasional touches of the poet's personality in quiet references to his critics. The comparisons between Horace and Juvenal in this discourse, and much of the criticism on Virgil in the discourse on epic poetry, are the utterances of a poet upon poets, and full of

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