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Mark Akenside (1721-1770)

Hymn to Science


              1  Science! thou fair effusive ray
              2From the great source of mental day,
              3     Free, generous, and refin'd!
              4Descend with all thy treasures fraught,
              5Illumine each bewilder'd thought,
              6     And bless my lab'ring mind.

              7  But first with thy resistless light,
              8Disperse those phantoms from my sight,
              9     Those mimic shades of thee;
            10The scholiast's learning, sophist's cant,
            11The visionary bigot's rant,
            12     The monk's philosophy.

            13  O! let thy powerful charms impart
            14The patient head, the candid heart,
            15     Devoted to thy sway;
            16Which no weak passions e'er mislead,
            17Which still with dauntless steps proceed
            18     Where Reason points the way.

            19  Give me to learn each secret cause;
            20Let number's, figure's, motion's laws
            21     Reveal'd before me stand;
            22These to great Nature's scenes apply,
            23And round the globe, and thro' the sky,
            24     Disclose her working hand.

            25  Next, to thy nobler search resign'd,
            26The busy, restless, human mind
            27     Thro' ev'ry maze pursue;
            28Detect Perception where it lies,
            29Catch the ideas as they rise,
            30     And all their changes view.

            31  Say from what simple springs began
            32The vast, ambitious thoughts of man,
            33     Which range beyond control;
            34Which seek Eternity to trace,
            35Dive thro' th' infinity of space,
            36     And strain to grasp the whole.

            37  Her secret stores let Memory tell,
            38Bid Fancy quit her fairy cell,
            39     In all her colours drest;
            40While prompt her sallies to control,
            41Reason, the judge, recalls the soul
            42     To Truth's severest test.

            43  Then launch thro' Being's wide extent;
            44Let the fair scale, with just ascent,
            45     And cautious steps, be trod;
            46And from the dead, corporeal mass,
            47Thro' each progressive order pass
            48     To Instinct, Reason, God.

            49  There, Science! veil thy daring eye;
            50Nor dive too deep, nor soar too high,
            51     In that divine abyss;
            52To Faith content thy beams to lend,
            53Her hopes t' assure, her steps befriend,
            54     And light her way to bliss.

            55  Then downwards take thy flight agen;
            56Mix with the policies of men,
            57     And social nature's ties:
            58The plan, the genius of each state,
            59Its interest and its pow'rs relate,
            60     Its fortunes and its rise.

            61  Thro' private life pursue thy course,
            62Trace every action to its source,
            63     And means and motives weigh:
            64Put tempers, passions in the scale,
            65Mark what degrees in each prevail,
            66     And fix the doubtful sway.

            67  That last, best effort of thy skill,
            68To form the life, and rule the will,
            69     Propitious pow'r! impart:
            70Teach me to cool my passion's fires,
            71Make me the judge of my desires,
            72     The master of my heart.

            73  Raise me above the vulgar's breath,
            74Pursuit of fortune, fear of death,
            75     And all in life that's mean.
            76Still true to reason be my plan,
            77Still let my action speak the man,
            78     Thro' every various scene.

            79  Hail! queen of manners, light of truth;
            80Hail! charm of age, and guide of youth;
            81     Sweet refuge of distress:
            82In business, thou! exact, polite;
            83Thou giv'st Retirement its delight,
            84     Prosperity its grace.

            85  Of wealth, pow'r, freedom, thou! the cause;
            86Foundress of order, cities, laws,
            87     Of arts inventress, thou!
            88Without thee what were human kind?
            89How vast their wants, their thoughts how blind!
            90     Their joys how mean! how few!

            91  Sun of the soul! thy beams unveil!
            92Let others spread the daring sail,
            93     On Fortune's faithless sea;
            94While undeluded, happier I
            95From the vain tumult timely fly,
            96     And sit in peace with thee.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Gentleman's Magazine (London, 1739). AP 4 G3 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1739
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP.1.721
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/26

Rhyme: aabccb


Other poems by Mark Akenside