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Ode XVIII: To The Right Honourable Francis Earl Of Huntington

Mark Akenside 1721 (Newcastle upon Tyne) – 1770



I. 1.
The wise and great of every clime,
Through all the spacious walks of Time,
Where'er the Muse her power display'd,
With joy have listen'd and obey'd.
For taught of heaven, the sacred Nine
Persuasive numbers, forms divine,
To mortal sense impart:
They best the soul with glory fire;
They noblest counsels, boldest deeds inspire;
And high o'er Fortune's rage inthrone the fixed heart.

I. 2.
Nor less prevailing is their charm
The vengeful bosom to disarm;
To melt the proud with human woe,
And prompt unwilling tears to flow.

Can wealth a power like this afford?
Can Cromwell's arts, or Marlborough's sword,
An equal empire claim?
No, Hastings. Thou my words wilt own:
Thy breast the gifts of every Muse hath known;
Nor shall the giver's love disgrace thy noble name.

I. 3.
The Muse's awful art,
And the blest function of the poet's tongue,
Ne'er shalt thou blush to honour; to assert
From all that scorned vice or slavish fear hath sung.
Nor shall the blandishment of Tuscan strings
Warbling at will in pleasure's myrtle bower;
Nor shall the servile notes to Celtic kings
By flattering minstrels paid in evil hour,
Move thee to spurn the heavenly Muse's reign.
A different strain,
And other themes
From her prophetic shades and hallow'd streams
(Thou well can'st witness) meet the purged ear:
Such, as when Greece to her immortal shell
Rejoicing listen'd, godlike sounds to hear;
To hear the sweet instructress tell
(While men and heroes throng'd around)
How life its noblest use may find,
How well for freedom be resign'd;
And how, by glory, virtue shall be crown'd.

II. 1.
Such was the Chian father's strain
To many a kind domestic train,
Whose pious hearth and genial bowl
Had chear'd the reverend pilgrim's soul:
When, every hospitable rite
With equal bounty to requite,
He struck his magic strings;
And pour'd spontaneous numbers forth,
And seiz'd their ears with tales of ancient worth,
And fill'd their musing hearts with vast heroic things.

II. 2.
Now oft, where happy spirits dwell,
Where yet he tunes his charming shell,
Oft near him, with applauding hands,
The genius of his country stands.
To listening gods he makes him known,
That man divine, by whom were sown
The seeds of Grecian fame:
Who first the race with freedom fir'd;
From whom Lycurgus Sparta's sons inspir'd;
From whom Platæan palms and Cyprian trophies came.

II. 3.
O noblest, happiest age!
When Aristides rul'd, and Cimon fought;
When all the generous fruits of Homer's page
Exulting Pindar saw to full perfection bought.
O Pindar, oft shalt thou be hail'd of me:
Not that Apollo fed thee from his shrine;
Not that thy lips drank sweetness from the bee;
Nor yet that, studious of thy notes divine,
Pan danc'd their measure with the sylvan throng:
But that thy song
Was proud to unfold
What thy base rulers trembled to behold;
Amid corrupted Thebes was proud to tell
The deeds of Athens and the Persian shame:
Hence on thy head their impious vengeance fell.
But thou, o faithful to thy fame,
The Muse's law did'st rightly know;
That who would animate his lays,
And other minds to virtue raise,
Must feel his own with all her spirit glow.

III. 1.
Are there, approv'd of later times,
Whose verse adorn'd a tyrant's crimes?
Who saw majestic Rome betray'd,
And lent the imperial ruffian aid?
Alas! not one polluted bard,
No, not the strains that Mincius heard,
Or Tibur's hills reply'd,
Dare to the Muse's ear aspire;
Save that, instructed by the Grecian lyre,
With freedom's ancient notes their shameful task they hide.

III. 2.
Mark, how the dread Pantheon stands,
Amid the domes of modern hands:
Amid the toys of idle state,
How simply, how severely great!
Then turn, and, while each western clime
Presents her tuneful sons to Time,
So mark thou Milton's name;
And add, “Thus differs from the throng
'The spirit which inform'd thy awful song,
Which bade thy potent voice protect thy country's fame.'

III. 3.
Yet hence barbaric zeal
His memory with unholy rage pursues;
While from these arduous cares of public weal
She bids each bard begone, and rest him with his Muse.
O fool! to think the man, whose ample mind
Must grasp at all that yonder stars survey;
Must join the noblest forms of every kind,
The world's most perfect image to display,
Can e'er his country's majesty behold,
Unmov'd or cold!
O fool! to deem
That he, whose thought must visit every theme,
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Mark Akenside

Mark Akenside was an English poet and physician. more…

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    "Ode XVIII: To The Right Honourable Francis Earl Of Huntington" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 29 May 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/26534/ode-xviii%3A-to-the-right-honourable-francis-earl-of-huntington>.

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