Saturday, September 5, 2009

An old poem that speaks to our time

A friend shared this excerpt from a poem with me earlier today. He and I discussed its message and merit at length. We both agreed that even though Dryden addressed this satirical work to a late 17th century English audience, its message can be both understood and considered relevant to a contemporary American listener.

God’s pampered people, whom, debauched with ease,
No king could govern, nor no God could please;
Gods they had tried of every shape and size,
That godsmiths could produce, or priests devise;
These Adam-wits, too fortunately free,
Began to dream they wanted liberty:
And when no rule, no precedent was found,
Of men, by laws less circumscribed and bound;
They led their wild desires to woods and caves,
And thought that all but savages were slaves.

--John Dryden (1631-1700), “Absalom and Achitophel”


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