Shadwell By John Dryden

About the Poet

➡ Born in Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire, England, the eldest of fourteen children.

➡ Entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1650.

➡ Heroic Stanzas (1658), written on the death of Oliver Cromwell is his first important work.

➡Became Poet Laureate and Royal Historiographer.


Stanza 1

➡ The poet states the reality of life that all human beings are mortal.
➡ Death comes to everybody and when it comes, even kings have to obey it.

➡ Mac Flecknoe, the emperor of the realm of Nonsense also realized this hard fact.

Stanza 2

➡ Flecknoe, the king, was considered famous in his empire in the matter of prose and poetry.

➡ The king was ruling his empire successfully and was blessed with a number of children.

➡ After growing old, he wanted to choose his successor.

Stanza 3

➡The king thought about his sons as his successor, who could be the greatest enemy of wisdom and wage a never-ending war against it.

Stanza 4

➡ The king chooses Shadwell, his son, as his successor who resembles him most in stupidity and foolishness.

➡ Other Children may show some rays of wisdom but Shadwell stands confirmed in foolishness.

Stanza 5

➡ Flecknoe compares Shadwell with his other sons and says that they have a little bit of commonsense but Shadwell’s stupidity is like a dense fog where day-light cannot pass through it.

Stanza 6

➡ Flecknoe says that Shadwell’s fat body will attract others’ attention and appears that it has been designed like this to rule the empire.

➡ Flecknoe compares Shadwell’s fat body to a huge Oak tree which spreads over a vast area and casts its shadow on the ground. In the same way, Shadwell is a useless person and will rule the realm of Nonsense.

➡ Other Foolish writers like Heywood and Shirley were merely the shadows of Shadwell.

Shadwell By John Dryden


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