The Secular Masque

Original Text: 

John Dryden, Poetry, Prose, and Plays, ed. Douglas Grant (Reynard Library edition: Hart-Davis, 1952). PR 3412 G7 1952 ROBA.

2An hundred times the rolling sun
3Around the radiant belt has run
4In his revolving race.
5Behold, behold, the goal in sight,
6Spread thy fans, and wing thy flight.
Enter CHRONOS, with a scythe in his hand, and a great globe on his back, which he sets down at his entrance
7Weary, weary of my weight,
8Let me, let me drop my freight,
9And leave the world behind.
10I could not bear
11Another year
12The load of human-kind.
Enter MOMUS Laughing
13Ha! ha! ha! Ha! ha! ha! well hast thou done,
14      To lay down thy pack,
15      And lighten thy back.
16The world was a fool, e'er since it begun,
17And since neither Janus, nor Chronos, nor I,
18      Can hinder the crimes,
19      Or mend the bad times,
20'Tis better to laugh than to cry.
CHORUS OF ALL THREE
'Tis better to laugh than to cry
JANUS
21Since Momus comes to laugh below,
22      Old Time begin the show,
23That he may see, in every scene,
24What changes in this age have been,
CHRONOS
25Then Goddess of the silver bow begin.
Horns, or hunting-music within
26With horns and with hounds I waken the day,
27And hie to my woodland walks away;
28I tuck up my robe, and am buskin'd soon,
29And tie to my forehead a waxing moon.
30I course the fleet stag, unkennel the fox,
31And chase the wild goats o'er summits of rocks,
32With shouting and hooting we pierce thro' the sky;
33And Echo turns hunter, and doubles the cry.
CHORUS OF ALL
With shouting and hooting, we pierce through the sky,
And Echo turns hunter, and doubles the cry.
JANUS
34Then our age was in its prime,
CHRONOS
35Free from rage,
DIANA
36--And free from crime.
MOMUS
37A very merry, dancing, drinking,
38Laughing, quaffing, and unthinking time.
CHORUS OF ALL
Then our age was in its prime,
Free from rage, and free from crime,
A very merry, dancing, drinking,
Laughing, quaffing, and unthinking time.
MARS
39Inspire the vocal brass, inspire;
40The world is past its infant age:
41      Arms and honour,
42      Arms and honour,
43Set the martial mind on fire,
44And kindle manly rage.
45 Mars has look'd the sky to red;
46And peace, the lazy good, is fled.
47Plenty, peace, and pleasure fly;
48      The sprightly green
49In woodland-walks, no more is seen;
50The sprightly green, has drunk the Tyrian dye.
CHORUS OF ALL
Plenty, peace, |&|c.
MARS
51Sound the trumpet, beat the drum,
52  Through all the world around;
53Sound a reveille, sound, sound,
54The warrior god is come.
CHORUS OF ALL
Sound the trumpet, |&|c.
MOMUS
55Thy sword within the scabbard keep,
56      And let mankind agree;
57Better the world were fast asleep,
58      Than kept awake by thee.
59The fools are only thinner,
60      With all our cost and care;
61But neither side a winner,
62      For things are as they were.
CHORUS OF ALL
The fools are only, |&|c.
Enter VENUS
63Calms appear, when storms are past;
64Love will have his hour at last:
65Nature is my kindly care;
66Mars destroys, and I repair;
67Take me, take me, while you may,
68Venus comes not ev'ry day.
CHORUS OF ALL
Take her, take her, |&|c.
CHRONOS
69The world was then so light,
70I scarcely felt the weight;
71Joy rul'd the day, and love the night.
72But since the Queen of Pleasure left the ground,
73      I faint, I lag,
74      And feebly drag
75The pond'rous Orb around.
76All, all of a piece throughout;
MOMUS,
77Thy chase had a beast in view;
to Mars
78Thy wars brought nothing about;
to Venus
79Thy lovers were all untrue.
JANUS
80'Tis well an old age is out,
81And time to begin a new.
CHORUS OF ALL
All, all of a piece throughout;
Thy chase had a beast in view;
Thy wars brought nothing about;
Thy lovers were all untrue.
'Tis well an old age is out,
And time to begin a new.
Dance of huntsmen, nymphs, warriors, and lovers.

Notes

1] This was Dryden's last work and was published in the month before his death. It was written to be performed as an afterpiece to an adaptation of John Fletcher's The Pilgrim. The "secular" of the title alludes to the date (the end of the century) and also to the theme. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1700
RPO poem Editors: 
G. G. Falle
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.52-54.
Form: