…from the quills of the dead white poets
John Dryden (1631 – 1700)
In the first rank of these Zimri stand:
A man so various, that he seem’d to be
Not one, but all mankind’s epitome.
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;
Was everything by starts, and nothing long:
But , in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffon;
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Blest madman, who could every hour employ,
With something new to wish, or to enjoy!
Railing and praising were his usual themes;
And both, to show his judgment, in extremes;
So over violent, or over civil,
That every man, with him, was God or Devil,
In squand’ring wealth was his peculiar art:
Nothing went unrewarded, but desert.
Beggar’d by fools, whom still he found too late:
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
He laugh’d himself from court; then sought relief
By forming parties, but could ne’er be chief;
For, in spite of him, the weight of business fell
On Absalom and wise Achitophel;
Thus wicked but in will, of means bereft,
He left not faction, but of that was left.
[From Absalom and Achitophel]