1794 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Mark Akenside

Robert Alves, in Sketches of a History of Literature (1794) 252.



As for Akenside, his Odes alone mark him a distinguished poet; their subject being sometime descriptive, sometimes moral and patriotic, and breathing, on all occasions, a spirit of liberty characteristic of the poet and the freeborn man.

He seems to have drunk deeply of Graecian literature, and to have formed both his religion and philosophy upon the principles of Plato. His Ode on leaving Holland, and that on Lyric poetry, are among the best of his pieces in the lyric style.

As to his much celebrated poem on the Pleasures of the Imagination, it may be observed, that though it is admirably descriptive in many places, and beautifully illustrative of the philosophy which it teaches in general; yet that, as a poem, its plan is somewhat incorrect and defective, and the meaning and main design often buried and lost under a multiplicity of words, and a consonance of agreeable sounds, either of no significancy at all, or only expressive of ideas often repeated before, though in different words.