Imágenes de páginas
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honour of being appointed Physician to her Majesty. Fortune and fame were rapidly pouring their gifts upon him, and he was likely to have risen to the same rank among physicians, as he had some time held among poets, when a putrid fever carried him off, in 1770, in the forty-ninth year of bis age. His remains were interred in the parish church of St. James's, Westminster.

Akenside was a man of religion, strict virtue, a philosopler, a scholar, and a poet. His conversation was of the most delightful kind, replete with knowledge, and enlivened by anecdote. As a didactic and lyric poet, he claims distinguished commendation. Some of his odes, indeet, are harsh; but his “Pleasures of Imagination" excite the enthusiasm they express, in every mind of taste and susceptibility. If some of his periods are too long involved, it arose more from the ardour of inspiration than the want of skill. His genius hurried him on, and he carries his reader with him by a fascination that mocks the frigid rules of criticism.

Lloyd concludes his “ Ode to Genius" with the following apostrophe to Akenside:

“ And thou, blest bard! around whose sacred brow
Great Pindar's delegated wreath is hung ;
Arise and snatch the majesty of song
From Dulness' servile tribe, and Art's unhallow'd throng."

THE PLEASURES OF IMAGINATION.

BOOK I.

ARGUMENT.

The subject proposed. Đifficulty of treating it poeticallyThe

ideas of the Divine Mind, the origin of every quality pleasing to the imagination. The natural variety of constitution to the minds of men ; with its final cause. The idea of a fine imagination, and the state of the mind in the enjoyment of those pleasures which it affords. All the primary pleasures of the imagination result from the perception of greatness, or wonderfulness, or beauty in objects. The pleasure from greatness, with its final cause. Pleasure from novelty or wonderfulness, with its final cause. Pleasure from beauty, with its final cause. The connexion of beauty with truth and good, applied to the conduct of life. Invitation to the study of moral philosophy. The different degrees of beauty in different species of objects : colour; shape; natural concretes; vegetables; animals; the mind. The sublime, the fair, the wonderful of the mind. The connexion of the imagination and the moral faculty. Conclu. sion.

With what attractive charms this goodly frame
Of nature touching 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 powers
Of musical delight! and while I sing
Your gifts, your honours, dance around my strain.
Thou,

smiling queen of every tuneful breast,
Indulgent Fancy! froin 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 cye,

VOL. IV.

She bends 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 strain ? 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.

Oft have the laws of each poetic strain
The critic-verse employ'd; yet still unsụng
Lay this prime subject, though importing most
A poet's name: for fruitless is the attempt,
By dull obedience and by creeping toil
Obscure to conquer the severe ascent
Of high Parnassus. Nature's kindling breath
Must fire the chosen genius ; nature's hand
Must string his nerves, and imp his eagle-wings.
Impatient of the painful steep, to soar
High as the summit; there to breathe at large
Æthereal air ; with bards and sages old,
Immortal sons of praise. These flattering scenes,
To this neglected labour court my song ;
Yet not unconscious what a doubtful task
To paint the finest features of the mind,
And to most subtle and mysterious things
Give colour, strength, and motion. But the love
Of nature and the muses bids explore,
Through secret paths erewhile untrod by man,
The fair poetic region to detect,
Untasted springs, to drink inspiring draughts,
And shade my temples with unfading flowers,
Cullid from the laureate vale's profound recess,
Where never poet gain'd a wreath before.

From heaven my strains begin; from heaven descends
The flame of genius to the human breast,
And love and beauty, and poetic joy

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And inspiration. Ere the radiant sun
Sprang from the east, or 'mid the vault of night
The moon suspended her serener lamp ;
Ere mountains, woods, or streams, adorn’d the globe,
Or wisdom taught the sons of men her lore;
Then liv'd the almighty One : then, deep retir'd
In his unfathom'd essence, view'd the forms,
The forms eternal of created things ;
The radiant sun, the, moon's nocturnal lamp,
The mountains, woods, and streams, the rolling globe,
And wisdom's mien celestial. From the first
Of days, on them his love divine he fix’d,
His admiration : till in time complete,
What he admir'd and lov’d, bis vital smile
Unfolded into being. Hence the breath
Of life informing each organic frame,
Hence the green earth, and wild resounding waves,
Hence light and shade alternate; warmth and cold ;
And clear autumnal skies, and vernal showers,
And all the fair variety of things.

But not alike to every mortal eye
Is this great scene unveil'd. For since the claims
Of social life, to different labours urge
The active powers of man ! with wise intent
The hand of nature on peculiar minds
Imprints a different bias, and to each
Decrees its province in the common toil.
To some she taught the fabric of the sphere,
The changeful nioon, the circuit of the stars,
The golden zones of heaven ; to some she gave
To weigh the moment of eternal things,
Of time, and space, and fate's unbroken chain,
And will's quick impulse: others by the hand
She led o'er vales and mountains, to explore
What healing virtue swells the tender veins
Of herbs and flowers; or what the beams of morn
Draw fortlı, distilling from the clifted rind
In balmy tears. But some, to higher hopes
Were destin'd; some within a finer mould
She wrought, and temper'd with a purer flame.
To this the Sire Omnipotent unfolds
The world's harmonious volume, there to read

The transcript of himself.

On every part
They trace the bright impressions of his hand :
In earth or air, the meadow's purple stores,
The moon's mild radiance, or the virgin's form
Blooming with rosy smiles, they see portray'd
That uncreated beauty, which delights
The mind supreme. They also feel her charms,
Enamour'd; they partake the eternal joy.

For as old Memnon's image long renown'd
By fabling Nilus, to the quivering touch
Of Titan's ray, with each repulsive string
Consenting, sounded through the warbling air.
Unbidden strains ; even so did nature's hand
To certain species of external things,
Attune the finer organs of the mind :
So the glad impulse of congenial powers,
Or of sweet sounds, or fair proportion d form,
The grace of motion, or the bloom of light,
Thrills through imagination's tender frame,
From nerve to nerve : all naked and alive
They catch the spreading rays; till now the soul
At length discloses every tuveful spring,
To that harmonious movement from without
Responsive. Then the expressive strain
Diffuses its enchantment: fancy dreams
Of sacred fountains and Elysian groves,
And vales of bliss: the intellectual power
Bends from his awful throne a wondering ear,
And smiles: the passions, gently sooth'd away,
Sink to divine repose, and love and joy
Alone are waking; love and joy, serene
As airs that fan the summer. O! attend,
Whoe'er thou art, whom these delights can touch,
Whose candid bosom the refining love
Of nature warms, O! listen to my song;
And I will guide thee to her favourite walks,
And teach thy solitude her voice to hear,
And point her loveliest features to thy view.

Know then, whate'er of nature's pregnant stores,
Whate'er of mimic art's reflected forms
With love and admiration thus inflame
The powers of fancy, her delighted sons
To three illustrious orders have referr'd;

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