The Pleasures of Imagination

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BOOK IOf Nature touches the consenting heartsOf mortal men; and what the pleasing storesWhich beauteous imitation thence derivesTo deck the poet's, or the painter's toil;My verse unfolds. Attend, ye gentle pow'rsOf musical delight! and while I singYour gifts, your honours, dance around my strain.Thou, smiling queen of every tuneful breast,Indulgent Fancy! from the fruitful banksOf Avon, whence thy rosy fingers cullFresh flowers and dews to sprinkle on the turfWhere Shakspeare lies, be present: and with theeLet Fiction come, upon her vagrant wingsWafting ten thousand colours through the air,Which, by the glances of her magic eye,She blends 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! descendAnd join this festive train? for with thee comesThe 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 conductThe wandering footsteps of the youthful bard,New to your springs and shades: who touch his earWith finer sounds: who heighten to his eyeThe bloom of Nature, and before him turnThe gayest, happiest attitude of things.

... Or shall I mention, where celestial TruthHer awful light discloses, to bestowA more majestic pomp on Beauty's frame?For man loves knowledge, and the beams of TruthMore welcome touch his understanding's eye,Than all the blandishments of sound his ear,Than all of taste his tongue. Nor ever yetThe melting rainbow's vernal-tinctur'd huesTo me have shone so pleasing, as when firstThe hand of Science pointed out the pathIn which the sun-beams gleaming from the westFall on the watery cloud, whose darksome veilInvolves the orient; and that trickling showerPiercing through every crystalline convexOf clustering dew-drops to their flight oppos'd,Recoil at length where concave all behindThe internal surface on each glassy orbRepeals their forward passage into air;That thence direct they seek the radiant goalFrom which their course began; and, as they strikeIn different lines the gazer's obvious eye,Assume a different lustre, through the bredeOf colours changing from the splendid roseTo the pale violet's dejected hue.


© Mark Akenside