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Mark Akenside (1721-1770)

Ode to the Country Gentlemen of England


              1     Thou, heedless Albion, what, alas, the while
              2     Dost thou presume? O inexpert in arms,
              3     Yet vain of freedom, how dost thou beguile,
              4     With dreams of hope, these near and loud alarms?
              5     Thy splendid home, thy plan of laws renown'd,
              6     The praise and envy of the nations round,
              7     What care hast thou to guard from fortune's sway?
              8     Amid the storms of war, how soon may all
              9     The lofty pile from its foundations fall,
            10Of ages the proud toil, the ruin of a day!

            11     No: thou art rich, thy streams and fertile vales
            12     Add industry's wise gifts to nature's store:
            13     And every port is crowded with thy sails,
            14     And every wave throws treasure on thy shore.
            15     What boots it? If luxurious plenty charm
            16     Thy selfish heart from glory, if thy arm
            17     Shrink at the frowns of danger and of pain,
            18     Those gifts, that treasure is no longer thine.
            19     Oh rather far be poor. Thy gold will shine
            20Tempting the eye of force, and deck thee to thy bane.

            21     But what hath force or war to do with thee?
            22     Girt by the azure tide and thron'd sublime
            23     Amid thy floating bulwarks, thou canst see,
            24     With scorn, the fury of each hostile clime
            25     Dash'd ere it reach thee. Sacred from the foe
            26     Art thy fair fields: athwart thy guardian prow
            27     No bold invader's foot shall tempt the strand--
            28     Yet say my country, will the waves and wind
            29     Obey thee? Hast thou all thy hopes resign'd
            30To the sky's fickle faith? the pilot's wavering hand?

...

            31     Nor yet be aw'd, nor yet your task disown,
            32     Though war's proud votaries look on severe;
            33     Though secrets, taught erewhile to them alone,
            34     They deem profan'd by your intruding ear.
            35     Let them in vain, your martial hope to quell,
            36     Of new refinements, fiercer weapons tell,
            37     And mock the old simplicity, in vain:
            38     To the time's warfare, simple or refin'd,
            39     The time itself adapts the warrior's mind;
            40And equal prowess still shall equal palms obtain.


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: Mark Akenside, An Ode to the Country Gentlemen of England (London: R. Dodsley, 1758). D-10 2119 Fisher Rare Book Library
First publication date: 1758
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP. 1.724
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/26

Rhyme: ababccdeed


Other poems by Mark Akenside