1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Mark Akenside

John Scott of Amwell, "Ode XXVII. After Reading Akenside's Poems" Poetical Works (1782) 241-44.



To Fancy's view what visions rise,
Remote amid yon azure skies!
What Goddess-form descends in air?
The Grecian Muse, severely fair!
What sage is he, to whom she deigns
Her lyre of elevated strains?
The Bard of Tyne — his master hand
Awakes new music o'er the land;
And much his voice of right and wrong
Attempts to teach the unheeding throng.

What mean those chrystal rocks serene,
Those laureate groves for ever green,
Those Parian domes? — Sublime retreats,
Of Freedom's sons the happy seats!—
There dwell the Few who dared disdain
The lust of power and lust of gain;
The Patriot names of old renown'd,
And those in later ages found;
The Athenian, Spartan, Roman boast,
The pride of Britain's sea-girt coast!

But, oh! what darkness intervenes!
But, oh! beneath, what different scenes!
What Matron she, to grief resign'd,
Beside that ruin'd arch reclin'd?
Her sons, who once so well could wield
The warrior spear, the warrior shield,
A turban'd Ruffian's scourge constrains
To toil on desolated plains!—

And She who leans that column nigh,
Where trampled arms and eagles lie;
Whose veil essays her blush to hide,
Who checks the tear that hastes to glide?
A mitred Priest's oppressive sway
She sees her drooping race obey:
Their vines unprun'd, their fields untill'd,
Their streets with want and misery fill'd.

And who is She, the Martial Maid
Along that cliff so careless laid,
Whose brow such laugh unmeaning wears,
Whose eye such insolence declares,
Whose tongue descants, with scorn so vain,
On slaves of Ebro or of Seine?
What griesley Churl, what Harlot bold,
Behind her, chains enormous hold?
Tho' Virtue's warning voice be near,
Alas, she will not, will not hear!
And now she sinks in sleep profound,
And now they bind her to the ground.

O what is He, his ghastly form,
So half obscur'd in cloud and storm,
Swift striding on? — beneath his strides
Proud Empires firmest base subsides;
Behind him dreary wastes remain,
Oblivion dark chaotic reign!