1758 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Mark Akenside

John Scott of Amwell, "Ode occasioned by reading Dr. Akenside's Odes, 1758" European Magazine 35 (May 1799) 330-31.



Yes — our sequester'd vales have heard
The voice of Freedom's chosen bard;
He bids forsake the groves and streams,
He points the Muse to loftier themes;
To themes that Grecian lays inspir'd,
To themes that Grecian heroes fir'd,
To themes that Albion's Druids sung,
Their mountain's bleak and oak-crown'd rocks among.

Begone, ye am'rous trifling train!
Forbear your soft enervate strain;
Your idle tales of wanton loves,
Of wounds and flames, and darts and doves:
Begone, and in the Gallic land,
Where folly leads her laughing band,
Along the gaudy banks of Seine
Mix in the light dance on the flow'ry plain.

Not that I scorn the love-taught lay,
Where nature speaks in nature's way,
Where truth dictates and reason guides,
And spotless chastity presides:
But sure a nobler love inspires,
A nobler praise awaits the song,
That glows with freedom's sacred fires,
And marks the bounds of right and wrong;
For those who plead their country's cause,
Shall grateful time reserve a just applause,
And bear their fame thro' ages yet unborn,
Bright as the sun, and fragrant as the morn.

Are there who breathe in British air,
And wish a tyrant's yoke to bear?
O hence, ye servile race, remove,
And taste the slavery ye love;
Where causeless wars and vary'd woes,
Are gifts unbounded pow'r bestows,
Where pines the swain on richest soils,
And fell oppression frowns, tho' nature smiles.

On winding Ligris' verdant side,
Or where the Rhone devolves his tide,
Some sweet sequester'd scene explore,
Where vine-clad hills surround the shore;
There thoughtless, indolent, and gay,
They sport the smiling hours away;
Ambition calls, their King commands,
They march, they fight, they fall in foreign lands.

Not so, where on the azure main,
Extends our Albion's happy plain;
Her sons, a race sublime of soul,
Nor fear, nor lawless force controul:
Who serves in peace, or serves in war,
Attends but where his choice inclines;
Each makes his nation's fame his care,
And this performs, what that designs:
Beneath fair freedom's fav'ring smile,
Th' uninjur'd peasant tills a kindly soil;
Resound ye vallies! while your shepherds sing,
A free-born people, and a father king.

By each ferocious Norman's reign,
Each haughty Tudor's galling chain,
And all the ills for thee design'd
In ev'ry gloomy Stuart's mind;
Till injur'd freedom wafted o'er
Her guardian from the Belgic shore;
By ev'ry former frown of fate,
O prize, Britannia! prize thy present state.

Whoe'er or heart, or hand employ'd
To gain the bliss by thee enjoy'd;
Who bold were in thy senate heard,
Or bold in war thy standard rear'd;
Or nobly suffer'd for thy cause,
The victims of perverted laws;
To these the honours due decree,
And raise the story'd arch to Liberty.

Conspicuous on the trophy'd ground,
With these her chosen train around,
The sculptor's art with nicest care
Should place her image heav'nly fair;
While Commerce, fraught with gems and ores,
The gifts of many a distant land,
And Labour, crown'd with rural stores,
Sustain her throne on either hand;
Oppression bound shall rage in vain,
And persecution struggle with her chain.
And proud Iberia's shatter'd helm appear,
And trampled papal crowns, and Gallia's broken spear.