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Short poem

Mark Akenside (1721-1770)

The Pleasures of Imagination


              1  With what attractive charms this goodly frame
              2Of Nature touches the consenting hearts
              3Of mortal men; and what the pleasing stores
              4Which beauteous imitation thence derives
              5To deck the poet's, or the painter's toil;
              6My verse unfolds. Attend, ye gentle pow'rs
              7Of musical delight! and while I sing
              8Your gifts, your honours, dance around my strain.
              9Thou, smiling queen of every tuneful breast,
            10Indulgent Fancy! from the fruitful banks
            11Of Avon, whence thy rosy fingers cull
            12Fresh flowers and dews to sprinkle on the turf
            13Where Shakspeare lies, be present: and with thee
            14Let Fiction come, upon her vagrant wings
            15Wafting ten thousand colours through the air,
            16Which, by the glances of her magic eye,
            17She blends and shifts at will, through countless forms,
            18Her wild creation. Goddess of the lyre,
            19Which rules the accents of the moving sphere,
            20Wilt thou, eternal Harmony! descend
            21And join this festive train? for with thee comes
            22The guide, the guardian of their lovely sports,
            23Majestic Truth; and where Truth deigns to come,
            24Her sister Liberty will not be far.
            25Be present all ye genii, who conduct
            26The wandering footsteps of the youthful bard,
            27New to your springs and shades: who touch his ear
            28With finer sounds: who heighten to his eye
            29The bloom of Nature, and before him turn
            30The gayest, happiest attitude of things.

            97  Or shall I mention, where celestial Truth
            98Her awful light discloses, to bestow
            99A more majestic pomp on Beauty's frame?
          100For man loves knowledge, and the beams of Truth
          101More welcome touch his understanding's eye,
          102Than all the blandishments of sound his ear,
          103Than all of taste his tongue. Nor ever yet
          104The melting rainbow's vernal-tinctur'd hues
          105To me have shone so pleasing, as when first
          106The hand of Science pointed out the path
          107In which the sun-beams gleaming from the west
          108Fall on the watery cloud, whose darksome veil
          109Involves the orient; and that trickling shower
          110Piercing through every crystalline convex
          111Of clustering dew-drops to their flight oppos'd,
          112Recoil at length where concave all behind
          113The internal surface on each glassy orb
          114Repeals their forward passage into air;
          115That thence direct they seek the radiant goal
          116From which their course began; and, as they strike
          117In different lines the gazer's obvious eye,
          118Assume a different lustre, through the brede
          119Of colours changing from the splendid rose
          120To the pale violet's dejected hue.


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, The Pleasures of Imagination, 3rd. edn. (London: R. Dodsley, 1744). B-10 6557 Fisher Rare Book Library.
First publication date: 1744
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP.1.723.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/26

Form: Blank Verse

Other poems by Mark Akenside