Samuel Rogers.

The poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir online

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Than he, whose birth the sister powers of Art
Propitious \^ew'd, and from his genial star



PLEASURES OF IMAGINATION. 195

Shed influence to the seeds of fancy kind ,
Than his attemper'd bosom must preserve
The seal of Nature. There alone unchanged,
Ker form remains. The balmy walks of Ma.y
There breathe perennial sweets ; the trembhng

chord
Resounds for ever in the abstracted ear,
Melodious : and the virgin's radiant eye,
Superior to disease, to grief, and time.
Shines with unbating lustre. Thus at length
Endow' d with all that Nature can bestow,
The child of Fancy oft in silence bends
O'er these mixt treasures of his pregnant breast.
With conscious pride. From thejii he oft re-
solves
To frame he knows not what excelling things ;
And win he knows not what sublime reward
Of praise and wonder. By degrees, the mind
Feels her young nerves dilate : the plastic

powers
Labour for action : blind emotions heave
His bosom, and vsith loveliest frenzy caught.
From eanh to heaven he rolls his daring eye»
From heaven to earth. Anon ten thousand

shapes,
Like spectres trooping to the wizard's call,
FHt swift before him. From the womb of

Earth,
From Ocean's bed, they come; the eternal
Heavens



196 AKENSIDE*J

Disclose their splendours, and the dark Ahf89
Pours out her births unknown. With fixed gaz»
He marks the rising phantoms. Now compares
Their different forma ; now blei.ds them, novr

divides,
Enlarges, and extenuates by turns ;
Opposes, ranges in fantastic bands.
And infinitely varies. Hither now,
Now thither fluctuates his inconstant aim.
With endless choice perplex'd. At length h«

plan
Begins to open. Lucid order dawns ;
And as from Chaos old the jarring seeds
Of Nature at the voice divine repair'd
Each to its* place, till rosy Earth unveil'd
Her fragrant bosom, and the joyful Sun
Sprung up the blue serene ; by swift degrees
Thus disentangled, his entire design
Emerges. Colours mingle, features join ;
And lines converge : the fainter parts retire j
The fairer eminent in light advance ;
And every image on its neighbour smiles.
Avi'hile he stands, and with a father's joy
Contemplates. Then with Promethean art.
Into its proper vehicle he breathes
The fair conception ; which, embodied thus,
And permanent, becomes to eyes or ears
An object ascertain' d ; while thus inform' d,
The various organs f>f his mimic skill,
The consonance of sounds, the featured rock.



PLEASURES OF IMi aiXATIOX. 197

The shadowy picture and impassion'd verse,

Beyond their proper powers attract the soul

By that expressive semblance, while in sight

Of Nature's great original we scan

The lively child of Art ; while line by line,

And feature after feature, we refer

To that sublime exemplar whence it stole

Those animating charms. Thus beauty's palm

BetwLxt them wavering hangs : applauding love

Doubts where to choose; and mortal man

aspires
To tempt creative praise. As when a cloud
Of gathering hail, with Umpid crusts of ice
Inclosed and obvious to the beaming Sun,
Collects his large effulgence ; straight the

heavens
With equal flames present on either hand
The radiant visage : Persia stands at gaze,
Appall'd; and on the brink of Ganges doubts
The snowy-vested seer, in Mithra's name.
To wliich the fragrance of the south shall burn,
To which his warbled orisons ascend.

Such various bliss the well-tuned heart enjoys.
Favour' d of Heaven ! while, plunged in sordid

cares,
The unfeehng vulgar mocks the boon divine :
And harsh Austerity, from whose rebuke
Young Love and smiling Wonder shrink away
Abash'd, a \d chill of heart, with sager frowns



198 IKENSIDE'S

Condemns the fair enchantment. On my strain
Perhaps even now, some cold fastidious judge
Casts a disdainful eye ; and calls my toil,
And calls the love and beauty which I sing,
The dream of folly. Thou, grave censor I say
Is Beauty then a dream, because the glooms
Of dullness hang too heavy on thy sense,
To let her shine upon thee ? So the man
Whose eye ne'er open'd on the light of Heaven,
Might smile with scorn while rapcured vision

tells
Of the gay-colour'd radiance flushing briglit
O'er all creation. From the wise be far
Such gross unhallow'd pride ; nor needs my

song
Descend so low ; but rather now uniold.
If human thought could reach, or words unfold,
By what mysterious fabric of the mind,
The deep-felt joys and harmony of sound
Result from airy motion; and from shape
The lovely phantoms of subhme and fair.
By what fine ties hath God connected things
When present in the mind, which in them

selves
Have no connexion ? Sure the rising Sun
O'er the cerulean convex of the sea.
With equal brightness and with equal warrath
Alight roll his fiery orb ; nor yet the soul
Thus feel her frame expanded, and her powers
Exulting m the splendour she beholds ;



PLEASljilES OF IMABINATIO^I. 199

Like a young conqueror moving through tho

pomp
Of some triumphal day. When join' J at eve,
Soft murmuring streams and gales of gentlest

breath
Melodious Philomela's wakeful strain
Attemper, could not man's discerning ear
Through all its tones the sympathy pursue ;
Nor yet this breath div'ine of nameless joy
Steal through his vsins, and fan the awaken'd

heart,
Mild as the breeze, yet rapturous as the song?

But were not Nature still endow'd at large
With all which hfe requires, though unadorn'd
With such enchantment : wherelbre then her

form
So exquisitely fair ? her breath perfumed
With such ethereal sweetness ? whence her voice
Inform' d at will to raise or to repress
The impassion'd soul? and whence the robea

of light
Which thus invest her %^'ith more lovely pomp
Than fancy can describe ? Whence but from

thee.
source divine of ever-flowing love,
And thy unmeasured goodness ? Not content
With every food of life to nourish man,
By kind illusions of the wondering sense
Thou mak 3st all nature beauty to his eve.



200 akexside's

Or music to his ear : well-pleased he scans
The goodly prospect ; and with inward smileg
Treads the gay verdure of the painted plain ;
Beholds the azure canopy of Heaven,
And living lamps that over-arch his head
With more than regal splendour ; bends his ears
To the full choir of water, air, and earth ;
Nor heeds the pleasing error of his thought,
Nor doubts the painted green or azure arch,
Nor questions more the music's mingUng sounda
Than space, or motion, or eternal time ;
So sweet he feels their influence to attract
The fixed soul ; to brighten the dull glooms
Of care, and make the destined road of life
Delightful to his feet. So fables tell.
The adventurous hero, bound on hard exploits,
Beholds with glad surprise, by secret spells
Of some kind sage, the patron of his toils,
A visionary paradise disclosed
Amid the dubious wild: with streams, and

shades.
And airy songs, the enchanted landscape smiles,
Cheers his long labours, and renews his frame.

What then is taste, but these internal powers
Active, and strong, and feelingly alive
To each fine impulse ? a discerning sense
Of decent and sublime, with quick disgust
From thing? deform'd, or disarranged, or gross
In species '/ This, nor geins, nor store" of gold.



TLEASURES OF IMAGINATION. 5»1

Nor purple state, nor culture can bestow ;

But God alone when first his active hand

Imprints the secret bias of the soul.

He, mighty Parent ! wise and just in all,

Free as the vital breeze or light of heaven,

Reveals the charms of Nature. Ask the swain

Who journeys homeward from a summer day's

Long labour, why, forgetful of his toils

And due repose, he loiters to behold

The sunshine gleaming as through amber cloudy,

O'er all the western sky ; full soon, I ween,

His rude expression and untutor'd airs.

Beyond the power of language, will unfold

The form of beauty smiling at his heart,

How lovely ! how commanding ! But though

Heaven
In every breast hath sown these early seeds
Of love and admiration, yet in vain,
Without fair Culture's kind parental aid,
Without enlivening suns, and genial showers,
And shelter from the blast, in vain we hope
The tender plant should rear its blooming heai^,
Or yield the harvest promised in its spring.
Nor yet will every soil with equal stores
Repay the tiller's labour ; or attend
His will, obseq-uious, whether to produce
The olive or the laurel. Different minds
Incline to different objects : one pursues
The vast alone, the wonderful, the wild •
Another sighs for harmony and gra ie,



902 AKE>rSIBE*S

And gentlest beaut/. Hence when lightning nrca
The arch of Heaven, and thunders rock the

ground,
When furious whirlwinds rend the howling air
And Ocean, groaning from his lowest bed.
Heaves his tempestuous billo%vs to the sky ;
Amid the mighty uproar, while below
The nations tremble, Shakspeare looks abroad
From some high cliff, superior, and enjoys
The elemental war. But Waller longs,
All on the margin of some flowery stream,
To spread his careless limbs amid the cool
Of plantain shades, and to the listening deer
The tale of sUghted vows and love's disdain
Resound soft-warbUng all the Hvelong day :
Consenting Zephyr sighs ; the weeping rill
Joins in his plaint, melodious ; mute the groves ,
And hill and dale %vith all their echoes mourn.
Such and so various are the tastes of men.

Oh ! blest of Heaven, whom not the languid

songs
Of Luxury, the syren ! not the bribes
Of sordid Wealth, nor aU the gaudy spoils
Of pageant Homer, can i^educe to leave
Those ever-blooming sweets, which from the

store
Of Nature fair Imagination culls
To charm the enlireu'd soul ! What though

not all



FLEASUKES Oy niARIXA.TIOIT. 203

Of mortal offspring can attain the heights

Of envied life ; though only few possess

Patrician treasures or imperial state ;

Yet Nature's care, to all her children just,

With richer treasures and an ampler state.

Endows at large whatever happy man

Will deign to use them. His the city's pomp,

The rural honours his. Whate'er adorns

The princely dome, the column and the arch.

The breathing marbles and the sculptured

gold,
Beyond the proud possessor's narrow claim,
His tuneful breast enjoys. For him, the springf
Distils her dews, and from the silken gem
Its lucid leaves unfolds: for him, the hand
Of Autumn tinges every fertile branch
With blooming gold, and blushes like the

morn.
Each passing hour sheds tribute from her wings,
And still new beauties meet his lonely walk,
And loves unfelt attract him. Not a breeze
Flies o'er the meadow, not a cloud imbibes
The setting Sun's effulgence, not a strain
From all the tenants of the warbling shade
Ascends, but whence his bosom can partake
Fresh pleasure, unreproved. Nor thence par-
takes
Fresh pleasure only : for the attentive mind,
By this harmonious action on her powers.
Becomes herself harmonious : wont so oft



204 aKE-TSibe's

In outward things to meditate tbe charm

Of sacred order, soon she seeks at home

To fmd a kindred order, to exert

Within herself this elegance of love,

This fair inspired delight : her temper' d powcfs

Refine at length, and every passion wears

A chaster, milder, more attractive mien.

But if to ampler prospects, if to gaze

On Nature's form, where, negligent of all

These lesser graces, she assumes the port

Of that eternal majeaty that weigh'd

The world's foundations, if to these the mind

Exalts her daring eye ; then mightier far

Will be the change, and nobler. Would tho

torms
Of servile custom cramp her generous powers f
Would sordid poUcies, the barbarous growth
Of ignorance and r


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Online LibrarySamuel RogersThe poems of Samuel Rogers, with a memoir → online text (page 16 of 16)