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Dryden’s influence on later writers was immense; Alexander Pope greatly admired and often imitated him, and Samuel Johnson considered him to have “refined the language, improved the sentiments, and tuned the numbers of English poetry.” In addition to poetry, Dryden wrote many essays, prefaces, satires, translations, biographies (introducing the word to the English language), and plays.
Dramatic Poesy had time enough, reckoning from Thespis (who first invented it) to Aristophanes, to be born, to grow up, and to flourish in Maturity.
Though he died in 1700, John Dryden is usually considered a writer of the 18th rather than the 17th century.
Incredibly prolific, Dryden made innovative advances in translation and aesthetic philosophy, and was the first poet to employ the neo-classical heroic couplet and quatrain in his own work.
It can be read as a general defense of drama as a legitimate art form—taking up where Sir Philip Sidney’s “Defence of Poesie” left off—as well as Dryden’s own defense of his literary practices.
The essay is structured as a dialogue among four friends on the river Thames.