by: Mark Akenside (1721-1770)

      To-night retired, the queen of heaven
      With young Endymion stays:
      And now to Hesper it is given
      A while to rule the vacant sky,
      Till she shall to her lamp supply
      A stream of brighter rays.
      O Hesper, while the starry throng
      With awe thy path surrounds,
      Oh, listen to my suppliant song,
      If haply now the vocal sphere
      Can suffer thy delighted ear
      To stoop to mortal sounds.
      So may the bridegroom's genial strain
      Thee still invoke to shine:
      So may the bride's unmarried train
      To Hymen chant their flattering vow,
      Still that his lucky torch may glow
      With lustre pure as thine.
      Far other vows must I prefer
      To thy indulgent power.
      Alas, but now I paid my tear
      On fair Olympia's virgin tomb:
      And lo, from thence, in quest I roam
      Of Philomela's bower.
      Propitious send thy golden ray,
      Thou purest light above:
      Let no false flame seduce to stray
      Where gulf or steep lie hid for harm:
      But lead where music's healing charm
      May soothe afflicted love.
      To them, by many a grateful song
      In happier seasons vow'd,
      These lawns, Olympia's haunt, belong:
      Oft by yon silver stream we walk'd,
      Or fix'd, while Philomela talk'd,
      Beneath yon copses stood.
      Nor seldom, where the beechen boughs
      That roofless tower invade,
      We came while her enchanting Muse
      The radiant moon above us held:
      Till by a clamorous owl compell'd
      She fled the solemn shade.
      But hark; I hear her liquid tone.
      Now, Hesper, guide my feet
      Down the red marl with moss o'ergrown,
      Through yon wild thicket next the plain,
      Whose hawthorns choke the winding lane,
      Which leads to her retreat.
      See the green space; on either hand
      Enlarged it spreads around:
      See, in the midst she takes her stand,
      Where one old oak his awful shade
      Extends o'er half the level mead
      Enclosed in woods profound.
      Hark, through many a melting note
      She now prolongs her lays:
      How sweetly down the void they float!
      The breeze their magic path attends,
      The stars shine out, the forest bends,
      The wakeful heifers gaze.
      Whoe'er thou art whom chance may bring
      To this sequester'd spot,
      If then the plaintive Syren sing,
      Oh! softly tread beneath her bower,
      And think of heaven's disposing power,
      Of man's uncertain lot.
      Oh! think, o'er all this mortal stage,
      What mournful scenes arise:
      What ruin waits on kingly rage,
      How often virtue dwells with woe,
      How many griefs from knowledge flow,
      How swiftly pleasure flies.
      O sacred bird, let me at eve,
      Thus wandering all alone,
      Thy tender counsel oft receive,
      Bear witness to thy pensive airs,
      And pity Nature's common cares,
      Till I forget my own.




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