Item of the Day: Akenside’s Poems (1772)

Full Title:

The Poems of Mark Akenside, M. D.  London, Printed by W. Bowyer and J Nichols: And Sold by J. Dodsley, In Pall Mall.  MDCCLXXII.

The Pleasures of the Imagination: Book the Second.

Introduction to this more difficult part of the subject.  Of truth and its three classes, matter of fact, experimental or scientifical truth, (contradistinguished from opinion) and universal truth: which last is either metaphysical or geometrical, either purely intellectual or purely abstracted.  On the power of discerning truth depends that of acting with the view of an end; a cicumstance essential to virtue.  Of virtue, considered in the divine mind as a perpetual and universal beneficence.  Of human virtue, considered as a system of particular sentiments and actions, suitable to the design of providence and the condition of man; to whom it constitutes the chief good and the first beauty.  Of vice and its origin.  Of ridicule: its general nature and first cause.  Of the passions; particularly of those which relate to evil natural or moral, and which are generally accounted painful, though not always unattended with pleasure.   

Thus far of beauty and the pleasing forms

Which man’s untutor’d fancy, from the scenes

Imperfect of this ever-changing world,

Creates; and views, inamor’d. Now my song

Severer themes demand: mysterious truth;

And virtue, sovran good: the spells, the trains,

The progeny of error: the dread sway

Of passion; and whatever hidden stores

From her own lofty deeds and from herself

The mind acquires.  Severer argument:

Not less attractive; nor deserving less

A constant ear.  For what are all the forms

Educ’d by fancy from corporeal things,

Greatness, or pomp, or symmetry of parts?

Not tending to the heart, soon feeble grows,

As the blunt arrow ’gainst the knotty trunk,

Their impulse on the sense: while the pall’d eye

Expects in vain its tribute; asks in vain,

Where are the ornaments it once admir’d?

Not so the moral species, nor the powers

Of passion and of thought.  The ambitious mind

With objects boundless as her own desires

Can there converse: by these unfading forms

Touch’d and awaken’d still, with eager act

She bends each nerve, and meditates well-pleas’d

Her gifts, her godlike fortune.  Such the scenes

Now opening round us.  May the destin’d verse

Maintain its equal tenor, though in tracts

Obscure and arduous.  May the source of light

All-present, all sufficient, guide our steps

Through every maze: and whom in childish years

From the loud throng, the beaten paths of wealth

And power, thou did’st apart send forth to speak

In tuneful words concerning highest things,

Him still do thou, o father, at those hours

Of pensive freedom, when the human soul

Shuts out the rumour of the world, him still

Touch thou with secret lessons: call thou back

Each erring thought; and let the yielding strains

From his full bosom, like a welcome rill

Spontaneous from its healthy fountain, flow […]

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 1770's, Eighteenth century, Literature, Philosophy, Poetry, Posted by Matthew Williams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s