Henry James Pye

(20 February 1745 – 11 August 1813 / London, England)

Ode To Beauty - Poem by Henry James Pye

I.
Enchanting power! whose influence blest
O'er Nature reigns with pleasing sway,
Whose mild command each gentler breast
Enraptur'd glories to obey:
O give my ravish'd sense to trace
In every form thy polish'd grace,
Whether thy footsteps deign to tread
The level of the enamel'd mead,
Whether thou joy'st to haunt the dale,
Or drink the mountain's ambient gale,
Or, with a more ambitious aim,
To animate the human frame,
Bid the bright eye resistless charm,
The snowy bosom swell, or shape the ivory arm.

II.
When at the Eternal's dread command
From Chaos rose this fabric fair,
He bade thy ornamenting hand
O'er all creation spread it's care.
By thee was Earth's maternal breast
Involv'd in verdure's radiant vest,
Heaven's spacious arch thy tints embue
With the deep azure's dazzling hue,
O'er the bleak hill thy order bade
The forest spread luxuriant shade,
Thy fingers through the irriguous mead
The river's shining current lead
Till it's increasing waters gain
The unconfin'd expanse of Ocean's vast domain.

III.
Glows not a shrub with vivid bloom
Mid the recesses of the vale;
Sheds not a flower it's rich perfume
To scent the pinions of the gale;
Waves not a beech it's leafy bough
To shade the mountain's hoary brow;
Bends not an osier dank to lave
It's branches in the passing wave.
Down the rude cliff's tremendous side
Pours not a stream it's whitening tide,
Nor arch'd by silver poplars, cool
Spreads it's smooth breast the lucid pool,
But every Muse shall read thy care,
Shall trace thy vagrant step, and mark thy pencil there.

IV.
But in the lovely Virgin's eye
And polish'd form, and blooming face,
Thy fairest lustre we descry,
And gaze upon thy purest grace.
Ah say! can all the mingled flowers
Whose roseate leaves, the circling hours
On earth's green bosom lavish fling,
When genial Zephyr breathes the spring,
Please like the maid whose charms inspire
The glowing wish of young desire?
Though blush with varied dyes the trees,
Though sweets ambrosial load the breeze,
Flies every bloom, fades every green,
Till female Beauty deign to crown the enchanting scene.

V.
Beneath the spicy forest's shade
The Indian breathes his amorous vow,
Where ice eternal binds the glade
Thy power the frozen Zemblians know;
For there thy beam with heavenly light
Has chear'd the gloom of polar night.
Where to the Eunuch's servile care
Luxury commits the imprison'd fair,
There o'er the desolated plains
Stern Slavery unresisted reigns,
But where Love's gentle rights are known
Which mutual freedom gives alone,
There Courage dwells, ingenuous Shame,
And Virtue's holy meed, and Glory's ardent flame.

VI.
But though the smiling Landscape spread
It's richest views on every side,
Though waves each oak it's solemn head
In all the pomp of leafy pride:
What pleasure shall these scenes impart,
How soothe to rest the laboring heart,
If malice fell, or black despair,
Or keen remorse inhabit there?
And say can all the charms that lie
In Hebe's cheek, or Helen's eye,
Delight, if scorn, or cold disdain,
Or changes desultory reign,
Or Jealousy's tormenting sway,
Usurp the power of Love, or cloud his golden ray.

VII.
'Tis in the conscious mind alone
That Beauty shews her purest beam,
There stands secure her lasting throne
Not idly borne on Fancy's stream:
Though the rude blast, and wintry storm,
The blooming Landscape's charms deform,
Though withering time, or pale disease,
Bid the wan cheek no longer please,
Yet if within the feeling breast
Soft pity dwell a welcome guest,
If smiling Peace, and Meekness sweet,
And Constancy there fix their seat;
Then shall thy charms despise the rage
Of winter's dreary frown, and mock the force of age.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 27, 2010



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