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MARK AKENSIDE

1721-1770

473                                                   Amoret

IF rightly tuneful bards decide,
   If it be fixd in Loves decrees,
That Beauty ought not to be tried
   But by its native power to please,
Then tell me, youths and lovers, tell
What fair can Amoret excel?
Behold that bright unsullied smile,
   And wisdom speaking in her mien:
Yetshe so artless all the while,
   So little studious to be seen
We naught but instant gladness know,
Nor think to whom the gift we owe.
But neither music, nor the powers
   Of youth and mirth and frolic cheer,
Add half the sunshine to the hours,
   Or make lifes prospect half so clear,
As memory brings it to the eye
From scenes where Amoret was by.
This, sure, is Beautys happiest part;
   This gives the most unbounded sway;
This shall enchant the subject heart
   When rose and lily fade away;
And she be still, in spite of Time,
Sweet Amoret in all her prime.

474                                              The Complaint

         AWAY! away!
   Tempt me no more, insidious Love;
      Thy soothing sway
   Long did my youthful bosom prove:
   At length thy treason is discernd,
   At length some dear-bought caution earnd:
Away! nor hope my riper age to move.
         I know, I see
   Her merit. Needs it now be shown,
         Alas! to me?
   How often, to myself unknown,
   The graceful, gentle, virtuous maid
   Have I admired! How often said
What joy to call a heart like hers ones own!
         But, flattering god,
   O squanderer of content and ease
         In thy abode
   Will cares rude lesson learn to please?
   O say, deceiver, hast thou won
   Proud Fortune to attend thy throne,
Or placed thy friends above her stern decrees?

475                                              The Nightingale

TO-NIGHT retired, the queen of heaven
   With young Endymion stays;
And now to Hesper it is given
Awhile to rule the vacant sky,
Till she shall to her lamp supply
   A stream of brighter rays.
Propitious send thy golden ray,
   Thou purest light above!
Let no false flame seduce to stray
Where gulf or steep lie hid for harm;
But lead where musics healing charm
   May soothe afflicted love.
To them, by many a grateful song
   In happier seasons vowd,
These lawns, Olympias haunts, belong:
Oft by yon silver stream we walkd,
Or fixd, while Philomela talkd,
   Beneath yon copses stood.
Nor seldom, where the beechen boughs
   That roofless tower invade,
We came, while her enchanting Muse
The radiant moon above us held:
Till, by a clamorous owl compelld,
   She fled the solemn shade.
But hark! I hear her liquid tone!
   Now Hesper guide my feet!
Down the red marl with moss oergrown,
Through yon wild thicket next the plain,
Whose hawthorns choke the winding lane
   Which leads to her retreat.
See the green space: on either hand
   Enlarged it spreads around:
See, in the midst she takes her stand,
Where one old oak his awful shade
Extends oer half the level mead,
   Enclosed in woods profound.
Hark! how through many a melting note
   She now prolongs her lays:
How sweetly down the void they float!
The breeze their magic path attends;
The stars shine out; the forest bends;
   The wakeful heifers graze.
Whoeer thou art whom chance may bring
   To this sequesterd spot,
If then the plaintive Siren sing,
O softly tread beneath her bower
And think of Heavens disposing power,
   Of mans uncertain lot.
O think, oer all this mortal stage
   What mournful scenes arise:
What ruin waits on kingly rage;
How often virtue dwells with woe;
How many griefs from knowledge flow;
   How swiftly pleasure flies!

O sacred bird! let me at eve,
   Thus wandering all alone,
Thy tender counsel oft receive,
Bear witness to thy pensive airs,
And pity Natures common cares,
   Till I forget my own.

 

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