Mark Akenside

(1721-1770 / England)

Ode Iii: To The Cuckow - Poem by Mark Akenside

O rustic herald of the spring,
At length in yonder woody vale
Fast by the brook I hear thee sing;
And, studious of thy homely tale,
Amid the vespers of the grove,
Amid the chaunting choir of love,
Thy sage responses hail.

The time has been when I have frown'd
To hear thy voice the woods invade;
And while thy solemn accent drown'd
Some sweeter poet of the shade,
Thus, thought I, thus the sons of care
Some constant youth or generous fair
With dull advice upbraid.

I said, 'While Philomela's song
'Proclaims the passion of the grove,
'It ill beseems a cuckow's tongue
'Her charming language to reprove'—
Alas, how much a lover's ear
Hates all the sober truth to hear,
The sober truth of love!

When hearts are in each other bless'd,
When nought but lofty faith can rule
The nymph's and swain's consenting breast,
How cuckow-like in Cupid's school,
With store of grave prudential saws
On fortune's power and custom's laws,
Appears each friendly fool!

Yet think betimes, ye gentle train
Whom love and hope and fancy sway,
Who every harsher care disdain,
Who by the morning judge the day,
Think that, in April's fairest hours,
To warbling shades and painted flowers
The cuckow joins his lay.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010

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