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Ode on a Sermon Against Glory

       COME then, tell me, sage divine,
       Is it an offence to own
       That our bosoms e'er incline
       Toward immortal glory's throne?
       For with me nor pomp, nor pleasure,
       Bourbon's might, Braganza's treasure,
       So can fancy's dream rejoice,
       So conciliate reason's choice,
    As one approving word of her impartial voice.

       If to spurn at noble praise
       Be the pass-port to thy heaven,
       Follow thou those gloomy ways;
       No such law to me was given,
       Nor, I trust, shall I deplore me
       Faring like my friends before me;
       Nor an holier place desire
       Than Timolean's arms acquire,
    And Tully's curule chair, and Milton's golden lyre.

    Mark Akenside

To Cordelia

    July 1740

    From pompous life's dull masquerade,
       From Pride's pursuits, and Passion's war,
       Far, my Cordelia, very far,
    To thee and me may Heaven assign
    The silent pleasures of the shade,
    The joys of peace, unenvied, though divine!

    Safe in the calm embowering grove,
       As thy own lovely brow serene;
       Behold the world's fantastic scene!
    What low pursuits employ the great,
    What tinsel things their wishes move,
    The forms of Fashion, and the toys of State.

    In vain are all Contentment's charms,
       Her placid mien, her cheerful eye;
       For look, Cordelia, how they fly!
    Allur'd by Power, Applause, or Gain,
    They fly her kind protecting arms;
    Ah, blind to pleasure, and in love with pain!

    Turn and indulge a fairer view,
       Smile on the joys which here conspire;
       O joys harmonious as my lyre!
    O prospect of enchanting things,
    As ever slumbering poet knew,
    When Love and Fancy wrapt him in their wings!

    Here, no rude storm of Passion blows,
       But Sports, and Smiles, and Virtues play,
       Cheer'd by Affection's purest ray;
    The air still breathes Contentment's balm,
    And the clear stream of Pleasure flows
    For ever active, yet for ever calm.

    Mark Akenside

The shape alone let others prize

    THE shape alone let others prize,
       The features of the fair:
    I look for spirit in her eyes,
       And meaning in her air.

    A damask cheek, an ivory arm,
       Shall ne'er my wishes win:
    Give me an animated form,
       That speaks a mind within.

    A face where awful honour shines,
       Where sense and sweetness move,
    And angel innocence refines
       The tenderness of love.

    These are the soul of beauty's frame;
       Without whose vital aid,
    Unfinish'd all her features seem,
       And all her roses dead.

    But ah! where both their charms unite,
       How perfect is the view,
    With every image of delight,
       With graces ever new:

    Of power to charm the greatest woe,
       The wildest rage control,
    Diffusing mildness o'er the brow,
       And rapture through the soul.

    Their power but faintly to express
       All language must despair;
    But go, behold Arpasia's face,
       And read it perfect there.

    Mark Akenside

Inscription for a Grotto

    TO ME, whom in their lays the shepherds call
    Actoe a, daughter of the neighbouring stream,
    This cave belongs. The fig-tree and the vine,
    Which o'er the rocky entrance downward shoot,
    Were placed by Glycon. He with cowslips pale,
    Primrose, and purple lychnis, deck'd the green
    Before my threshold, and my shelving walls
    With honeysuckle cover'd. Here at noon,
    Lull'd by the murmur of my rising fount,
    I slumber; here my clustering fruits I tend;
    Or, from the humid flowers at break of day,
    Fresh garlands weave, and chase from all my hounds
    Each thing impure or noxious. Enter in,
    O stranger, undismay'd. Nor bat nor toad
    Here lurks; and, if thy breast of blameless thoughts
    Approve thee, not unwelcome shalt thou tread
    My quiet mansion; chiefly, if thy name
    Wise Pallas and the immortal Muses own.

    Mark Akenside

Inscription for a Statue of Chaucer at Woodstock

    SUCH was old Chaucer; such the placid mien
    Of him who first with harmony inform'd
    The language of our fathers. Here he dwelt
    For many a cheerful day. These ancient walls
    Have often heard him, while his legends blithe
    He sang; of love, or knighthood, or the wiles
    Of homely life: through each estate and age,
    The fashions and the follies of the world
    With cunning hand portraying. Though perchance
    From Blenheim's towers, O stranger, thou art come
    Glowing with Churchill's trophies; yet in vain
    Dost thou applaud them if thy breast be cold
    To him, this other hero; who, in times
    Dark and untaught, began with charming verse
    To tame the rudeness of his native land.

    Mark Akenside

Inscription for a Column at Runnymede

    THOU who the verdant plain dost traverse here,
    While Thames among his willows from thy view Retires;
    O stranger, stay thee, and the scene
    Around contemplate well. This is the place
    Where England's ancient barons, clad in arms
    And stern with conquest, from their tyrant king
    (Then render'd tame) did challenge and secure
    The charter of thy freedom. Pass not on
    Till thou hast bless'd their memory, and paid
    Those thanks which God appointed the reward
    Of public virtue. And if chance thy home
    Salute thee with a father's honour'd name,
    Go, call thy sons; instruct them what a debt
    They owe their ancestors; and make them swear
    To pay it, by transmitting down entire
    Those sacred rights to which themselves were born.

    Mark Akenside

Me though in life's sequester'd vale

       ME THOUGH in life's sequester'd vale
       The Almighty Sire ordain'd to dwell,
       Remote from glory's toilsome ways,
       And the great scenes of public praise;
       Yet let me still with grateful pride
       Remember how my infant frame
       He temper'd with prophetic flame,
    And early music to my tongue supplied.

       'Twas then my future fate he weigh'd,
       And, this be thy concern, he said,
       At once with Passion's keen alarms,
       And Beauty's pleasurable charms,
       And sacred Truth's eternal light,
       To move the various mind of Man ;
       Till, under one unblemish'd plan,
    His Reason, Fancy, and his Heart unite.

    Mark Akenside


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