Mark Akenside

(1721-1770 / England)

Ode Xiii: To The Author Of Memoirs Of The House Of Brandenburgh - Poem by Mark Akenside

I.
The men renown'd as chiefs of human race,
And born to lead in counsels or in arms,
Have seldom turn'd their feet from glory's chace
To dwell with books or court the Muse's charms.
Yet, to our eyes if haply time hath brought
Some genuine transcript of their calmer thought,
There still we own the wise, the great, or good;
And Cæsar there and Xenophon are seen,
As clear in spirit and sublime of mien,
As on Pharsalian plains, or by the Assyrian flood.

II.
Say thou too, Frederic, was not this thy aim?
Thy vigils could the student's lamp ingage,
Except for this? except that future fame
Might read thy genius in the faithful page?
That if hereafter envy shall presume
With words irreverent to inscribe thy tomb,
And baser weeds upon thy palms to fling,
That hence posterity may try thy reign,
Assert thy treaties, and thy wars explain,
And view in native lights the hero and the king.

III.
O evil foresight and pernicious care!
Wilt thou indeed abide by this appeal?
Shall we the lessons of thy pen compare
With private honor or with public zeal?
Whence then at things divine those darts of scorn?
Why are the woes, which virtuous men have borne
For sacred truth, a prey to laughter given?
What fiend, what foe of nature urg'd thy arm
The Almighty of his scepter to disarm?
To push this earth adrift and leave it loose from heaven?

IV.
Ye godlike shades of legislators old,
Ye who made Rome victorious, Athens wise,
Ye first of mortals with the bless'd inroll'd,
Say did not horror in your bosoms rise,
When thus by impious vanity impell'd
A magistrate, a monarch, ye beheld
Affronting civil order's holiest bands?
Those bands which ye so labor'd to improve?
Those hopes and fears of justice from above,
Which tam'd the savage world to your divine commands?


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010



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