Mark Akenside

(1721-1770 / England)

Ode Xvi: To Caleb Hardinge, M.D. - Poem by Mark Akenside

With sordid floods the wintry Urn
Hath stain'd fair Richmond's level green:
Her naked hill the Dryads mourn,
No longer a poetic scene.
No longer there thy raptur'd eye
The beauteous forms of earth or sky
Surveys as in their Author's mind:
And London shelters from the year
Those whom thy social hours to share
The Attic Muse design'd.

From Hampstead's airy summit me
Her guest the city shall behold,
What day the people's stern decree
To unbelieving kings is told,
When common men (the dread of fame)
Adjudg'd as one of evil name,
Before the sun, the anointed head.
Then seek thou too the pious town,
With no unworthy cares to crown
That evening's awful shade.

Deem not i call thee to deplore
The sacred martyr of the day,
By fast and penitential lore
To purge our ancient guilt away.
For this, on humble faith i rest
That still our advocate, the priest,
From heavenly wrath will save the land;
Nor ask what rites our pardon gain,
Nor how his potent sounds restrain
The thunderer's lifted hand.

No, Hardinge: peace to church and state!
That evening, let the Muse give law:
While i anew the theme relate
Which my first youth inamor'd saw.
Then will i oft explore thy thought,
What to reject which Locke hath taught,
What to pursue in Virgil's lay:
Till hope ascends to loftiest things,
Nor envies demagogues or kings
Their frail and vulgar sway.

O vers'd in all the human frame,
Lead thou where'er my labor lies,
And English fancy's eager flame
To Grecian purity chastize:
While hand in hand, at wisdom's shrine,
Beauty with truth i strive to join,
And grave assent with glad applause;
To paint the story of the soul,
And Plato's visions to controul
By Verulamian laws.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010

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