Mark Akenside

(1721-1770 / England)

Ode V: Against Suspicion - Poem by Mark Akenside

Oh fly! 'tis dire Suspicion's mien;
And, meditating plagues unseen,
The sorceress hither bends:
Behold her torch in gall imbrued:
Behold — her garment drops with blood
Of lovers and of friends.

Fly far! Already in your eyes
I see a pale suffusion rise;
And soon through every vein,
Soon will her secret venom spread,
And all your heart and all your head
Imbibe the potent stain.

Then many a demon will she raise
To vex your sleep, to haunt your ways;
While gleams of lost delight
Raise the dark tempest of the brain,
As lightning shines across the main
Through whirlwinds and through night.

No more can faith or candor move;
But each ingenuous deed of love,
Which reason would applaud,
Now, smiling o'er her dark distress,
Fancy malignant strives to dress
Like injury and fraud.

Farewell to virtue's peaceful times:
Soon will you stoop to act the crimes
Which thus you stoop to fear:
Guilt follows guilt: and where the train
Begins with wrongs of such a stain,
What horrors form the rear!

'Tis thus to work her baleful power,
Suspicion waits the sullen hour
Of fretfulness and strife,
When care the infirmer bosom wrings,
Or Eurus waves his murky wings
To damp the seats of life.

But come, forsake the scene unbless'd
Which first beheld your faithful breast
To groundless fears a prey:
Come, where with my prevailing lyre
The skies, the streams, the groves conspire
To charm your doubts away.

Thron'd in the sun's descending car,
What power unseen diffuseth far
This tenderness of mind?
What genius smiles on yonder flood?
What god, in whispers from the wood,
Bids every thought be kind?

O thou, whate'er thy awful name,
Whose wisdom our untoward frame
With social love restrains;
Thou, who by fair affection's ties
Giv'st us to double all our joys
And half disarm our pains;

Let universal candor still,
Clear as yon heaven-reflecting rill,
Preserve my open mind;
Nor this nor that man's crooked ways
One sordid doubt within me raise
To injure human kind.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010

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