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The Royal Society, which was established during this period enjoined on all its members to use ‘a close, naked, natural way of speaking and writing, as near the mathematical plainness as they can”.Dryden accepted this rule for his prose, and for his poetry adopted the easiest type of verse-form—the heroic couplet.
The result was that the old Elizabethan spirit with its patriotism, its love of adventure and romance, its creative vigor, and the Puritan spirit with its moral discipline and love of liberty, became things of the past.
For a time in poetry, drama and prose nothing was produced which could compare satisfactorily with the great achievements of the Elizabethans, of Milton, and even of minor writers of the Puritan age.
They were more concerned with vices rather than with virtues.
The result was a coarse and inferior type of literature.
Written in the form of a narrative, they entitle Dryden to rank among the best story-tellers in verse in England.
The Palamon and Arcite, which is based on Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, gives us an opportunity of comparing the method and art of a fourteenth century poet with one belonging to the seventeenth century.The poetry of Dryden can be conveniently divided under three heads—Political Satires, Doctrinal Poems and The Fables.Of his political satires, Absolem and Achitophel and The Medal are well-known.The Medal is another satirical poem full of invective against Shaftesbury and Mac Flecknoe.It also contains a scathing personal attack on Thomas Shadwell who was once a friend of Dryden.They, therefore, show Dryden’s power and skill of defending any position he took up, and his mastery in presenting an argument in verse.The Fables, which were written during the last years of Dryden’s life, show no decrease in his poetic power.All restraints and discipline were thrown to the winds, and a wave of licentiousness and frivolity swept the country.Charles II and his followers who had enjoyed a gay life in France during their exile, did their best to introduce that type of foppery and looseness in England also.Under his guidance, the English writers evolved a style—precise, formal and elegant—which is called the classical style, and which dominated English literature for more than a century.n Dryden (1631-1700).The Restoration poetry was mostly satirical, realistic and written in the heroic couplet, of which Dryden was the supreme master.