Mark Akenside

(1721-1770 / England)

Ode Vi: To William Hall, Esquire: With The Works Of Chaulieu - Poem by Mark Akenside

I.
Attend to Chaulieu's wanton lyre;
While, fluent as the sky-lark sings
When first the morn allures it's wings,
The epicure his theme pursues:
And tell me if, among the choir
Whose music charms the banks of Seine,
So full, so free, so rich a strain
E'er dictated the warbling Muse?

II.
Yet, Hall, while thy judicious ear
Admires the well-dissembled art
That can such harmony impart
To the lame pace of Gallic rhymes;
While wit from affectation clear,
Bright images, and passions true,
Recall to thy assenting view
The envied bards of nobler times;

III.
Say, is not oft his doctrine wrong?
This priest of pleasure, who aspires
To lead us to her sacred fires,
Knows he the ritual of her shrine?
Say (her sweet influence to thy song
So may the goddess still afford)
Doth she consent to be ador'd
With shameless love and frantic wine?

IV.
Nor Cato, nor Chrysippus here
Need we in high indignant phrase
From their Elysian quiet raise;
But pleasure's oracle alone
Consult; attentive, not severe.
O pleasure, we blaspheme not thee;
Nor emulate the rigid knee
Which bends but at the Stoic throne.

V.
We own had fate to man assign'd
Nor sense, nor wish but what obey
Or Venus soft or Bacchus gay,
Then might our bard's voluptuous creed
Most aptly govern human kind:
Unless perchance what he hath sung
Of tortur'd joints and nerves unstrung,
Some wrangling heretic should plead.

VI.
But now with all these proud desires
For dauntless truth and and honest fame;
With that strong master of our frame,
The inexorable judge within,
What can be done? Alas, ye fires
Of love; alas, ye rosy smiles,
Ye nectar'd cups from happier soils,
—Ye have no bribe his grace to win.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010



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