Mark Akenside

(1721-1770 / England)

Ode I: The Preface

On yonder verdant hilloc laid,
Where oaks and elms, a friendly shade,
O'erlook the falling stream,
O master of the Latin lyre,
Awhile with thee will i retire
From summer's noontide beam.

And, lo, within my lonely bower,
The industrious bee from many a flower
Collects her balmy dews:
“For me,” she sings, “the gems are born,
“For me their silken robe adorn,
“Their fragrant breath diffuse.”

Sweet murmurer! may no rude storm
This hospitable scene deform,
Nor check thy gladsome toils;
Still may the buds unsullied spring,
Still showers and sunshine court thy wing
To these ambrosial spoils.

Nor shall my Muse hereafter fail
Her fellow-labourer thee to hail;
And lucky be the strains!
For long ago did nature frame
Your seasons and your arts the same,
Your pleasures and your pains.

Like thee, in lowly, sylvan scenes,
On river-banks and flowery greens
My Muse delighted plays;
Nor through the desart of the air,
Though swans or eagles triumph there,
With fond ambition strays.

Nor where the boding raven chaunts,
Nor near the owl's unhallow'd haunts
Will she her cares imploy;
But flies from ruins and from tombs,
From superstition's horrid glooms,
To day-light and to joy.

Nor will she tempt the barren waste;
Nor deigns the lurking strength to taste
Of any noxious thing;
But leaves with scorn to envy's use
The insipid nightshade's baneful juice,
The nettle's sordid sting.

From all which nature fairest knows,
The vernal blooms, the summer rose,
She draws her blameless wealth;
And, when the generous task is done,
She consecrates a double boon,
To pleasure and to health.

Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010

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