( Image and source : Wikipedia)

John Dryden was a famous English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright. He became the first Poet Laureate of England in in 1668.

He was born on 19 August 1631 at Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, England, to Erasmus Dryden and Mary Pickering. He was the eldest of their fourteen children. His paternal grandfather, Sir Sir Erasmus Dryden, was the first Baronet. He was the second cousin of author Jonathan Swift. He received the primary education at a nearby village of Titchmarsh. Later, He attended Westminster School as a King’s Scholar where his headmaster was Dr. Richard Busby, a charismatic teacher and severe disciplinarian. The Westminster school promoted royalism and high Anglicanism. It advocated a curriculum that taught students art of rhetoric and the presentation of arguments for both sides of a given issue, which Dryden observed.

Dryden pursued his higher education by joining Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1850. He emerged a topper in BA from the Trinity College in 1854 . Unfortunately, his father died in June, the same year, leaving behind some land that earned him a meager income. Dryden got employment with  Oliver Cromwell’s Secretary of State, John Thurloe on his return to London. After the death of Oliver Cromwell on 23 November 1658, he met with the Puritan poets, John Milton and Andrew Marvell. His first published poem, Heroic Stanzas (1659), was an eulogy on the death of Oliver Cromwell. His work Astraea Redux, an authentic royalist panegyric, published in 1660 , dealt with the restoration of monarchy and the return of Charles II. He dominated the literary field during the period of Restoration of England and refereed to as the age of Dryden. He introduced Heroic couplet as the standard form of English poetry, besides including the alexandrine and triplet into the form.

He got married to Lady Elizabeth Howard on 1st December, 1663. It was believed that her playwright brothers forced Dryden into marrying Elizabeth. They had three sons. She outlived her husband and lost her sanity after Dryden’s death.

John Dryden died on 12 May 1700 (aged 68)
London, England, leaving behind the priceless treasure of his exemplary work in English literature. Legends like him continue to live forever through their work.

His best known works :

Dramatic works

The Wild Gallant, a Comedy (1663/1669)

The Rival Ladies, a Tragi-Comedy (1663/1664)

The Indian Queen, a Tragedy (1664/1665)

The Indian Emperor, or the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards (1665/)

Secret Love, or the Maiden Queen (1667/)

Sir Martin Mar-all, or the Feigned Innocence, a Comedy (1667/1668)

The Tempest, or the Enchanted Island, a Comedy (1667/1670),

an adaptation with William D’Avenant of Shakespeare’s The TempestAn Evening’s Love, or the Mock Astrologer, a Comedy (1668/1668)

Tyrannick Love, or the Royal Martyr, a Tragedy (1668 or 1669/1670)

Almanzor and Almahide, or the Conquest of Granada by the Spaniards, a Tragedy, Part I & Part II (1669 or 1670/1672)

Marriage-a-la-Mode, a Comedy (1673/1673)

The Assignation, or Love in a Nunnery, a Comedy (1672/1673)

Amboyna; or the Cruelties of the Dutch to the English Merchants, a Tragedy (1673/1673)

The Mistaken Husband (comedy) (1674/1675)

The State of Innocence, and Fall of Man, an Opera (/1674)

Aureng-Zebe, a Tragedy (1676/1676)

All for Love, or the World Well Lost, a Tragedy (1678/1678)

Limberham, or the Kind Keeper, a Comedy (/1678)

Oedipus, a Tragedy (1678 or 1679/1679),

an adaptation with Nathaniel Lee of Sophocles’ OedipusTroilus and Cressida, or Truth found too late, a Tragedy (/1679)

The Spanish Friar, or the Double Discovery (1681 or 1682/)

The Duke of Guise, a Tragedy (1682/1683)

with Nathaniel LeeAlbion and Albanius, an Opera (1685/1685)

Don Sebastian, a Tragedy (1690/1690)

Amphitryon, or the Two Sosias, a Comedy (1690/1690)

King Arthur, or the British Worthy, a Dramatic Opera (1691/1691)

Cleomenes, the Spartan Hero, a Tragedy (1692/1692)

Love Triumphant, or Nature will prevail, a Tragedy (1693 or 1694/1693 or 1694)

The Secular Masque (1700/1700)

Other works:

Astraea Redux, 1660

Annus Mirabilis (poem), 1667

An Essay of Dramatick Poesie, 1668

Absalom and Achitophel, 1681

Mac Flecknoe, 1682

The Medal, 1682

Religio Laici, 1682

To the Memory of Mr. Oldham, 1684

Threnodia Augustalis, 1685

The Hind and the Panther, 1687

A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day, 1687

Britannia Rediviva, 1688, written to mark the birth of James, Prince of Wales.

Epigram on Milton, 1688

Creator Spirit, by whose aid, 1690.

Translation of Rabanus Maurus’ Veni Creator Spiritus

The Works of Virgil, 1697

Alexander’s Feast, 1697

Fables, Ancient and Modern, 1700

Palamon and Arcite

The Art of Satire

His poem:

To the Memory of Mr. Oldham (Poem)

By John Dryden

Farewell, too little and too lately known,

Whom I began to think and call my own;

For sure our souls were near ally’d; and thine

Cast in the same poetic mould with mine.

One common note on either lyre did strike,

And knaves and fools we both abhorr’d alike:

To the same goal did both our studies drive,

The last set out the soonest did arrive.

Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place,

While his young friend perform’d and won the race.

O early ripe! to thy abundant store

What could advancing age have added more?

It might (what nature never gives the young)

Have taught the numbers of thy native tongue.

But satire needs not those, and wit will shine

Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.

A noble error, and but seldom made,

When poets are by too much force betray’d.

Thy generous fruits, though gather’d ere their prime

Still show’d a quickness; and maturing time But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of rhyme.

Once more, hail and farewell; farewell thou young,

But ah too short, Marcellus of our tongue;

Thy brows with ivy, and with laurels bound;

But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.

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