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Poem by Mark Akenside
The Pleasures of Imagination
With what attractive charms this goodly frame Of Nature touches the consenting hearts Of mortal men; and what the pleasing stores Which beauteous imitation thence derives To deck the poet's, or the painter's toil; My verse unfolds. Attend, ye gentle pow'rs Of musical delight! and while I sing Your gifts, your honours, dance around my strain. Thou, smiling queen of every tuneful breast, Indulgent Fancy! from the fruitful banks Of Avon, whence thy rosy fingers cull Fresh flowers and dews to sprinkle on the turf Where Shakspeare lies, be present: and with thee Let Fiction come, upon her vagrant wings Wafting ten thousand colours through the air, Which, by the glances of her magic eye, She blends and shifts at will, through countless forms, Her wild creation. Goddess of the lyre, Which rules the accents of the moving sphere, Wilt thou, eternal Harmony! descend And join this festive train? for with thee comes The guide, the guardian of their lovely sports, Majestic Truth; and where Truth deigns to come, Her sister Liberty will not be far. Be present all ye genii, who conduct The wandering footsteps of the youthful bard, New to your springs and shades: who touch his ear With finer sounds: who heighten to his eye The bloom of Nature, and before him turn The gayest, happiest attitude of things. ... Or shall I mention, where celestial Truth Her awful light discloses, to bestow A more majestic pomp on Beauty's frame? For man loves knowledge, and the beams of Truth More welcome touch his understanding's eye, Than all the blandishments of sound his ear, Than all of taste his tongue. Nor ever yet The melting rainbow's vernal-tinctur'd hues To me have shone so pleasing, as when first The hand of Science pointed out the path In which the sun-beams gleaming from the west Fall on the watery cloud, whose darksome veil Involves the orient; and that trickling shower Piercing through every crystalline convex Of clustering dew-drops to their flight oppos'd, Recoil at length where concave all behind The internal surface on each glassy orb Repeals their forward passage into air; That thence direct they seek the radiant goal From which their course began; and, as they strike In different lines the gazer's obvious eye, Assume a different lustre, through the brede Of colours changing from the splendid rose To the pale violet's dejected hue.
Mark Akenside's other poems:
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