Ode VII: On The Use Of Poetry

by Mark Akenside

Mark Akenside

Not for themselves did human kind
Contrive the parts by heaven assign'd
On life's wide scene to play:
Not Scipio's force, nor Cæsar's skill
Can conquer glory's arduous hill,
If fortune close the way.
Yet still the self-depending soul,
Though last and least in fortune's roll,
His proper sphere commands;
And knows what nature's seal bestow'd,
And sees, before the throne of God,
The rank in which he stands.
Who train'd by laws the future age,
Who rescu'd nations from the rage
Of partial, factious power,
My heart with distant homage views;
Content if thou, celestial Muse,
Did'st rule my natal hour.
Nor far beneath the hero's feet,
Nor from the legislator's seat
Stands far remote the bard.
Though not with public terrors crown'd,
Yet wider shall his rule be found,
More lasting his award.
Lycurgus fashion'd Sparta's fame,
And Pompey to the Roman name
Gave universal sway:
Where are they?-Homer's reverend page
Holds empire to the thirtieth age,
And tongues and climes obey.
And thus when William's acts divine
No longer shall from Bourbon's line
Draw one vindictive vow;
When Sidney shall with Cato rest,
And Russel move the patriot's breast
No more than Brutus now;
Yet then shall Shakespeare's powerful art
O'er every passion, every heart,
Confirm his awful throne:
Tyrants shall bow before his laws;
And freedom's, glory's, virtue's cause,
Their dread assertor own.

Last updated January 14, 2019