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ODE ON THE POETICAL CHARACTER.

1 AS once, if not with light regard,
2 I read aright that gifted Bard,
3 (Him whose school above the rest
4 His loveliest Elsin queen has blest)
5 One, only one, unrivall'd fair
x Florimel. See Spenser, Leg. 4th.
6 Might hope the magic girdle wear,
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7 At solemn turney hung on high,
8 The wish of each love-darting eye.
9 Lo! to each other nymp in turn applied,
10 As if, in air unseen, some hovering hand,
11 Some chaste and angel-friend to virgin fame,
12 With whisper'd spell had burst the starting band,
13 It left unblest her loath'd dishonour'd side;
14 Happier, hopeless fair, if never
15 Her baffled hand with vain endeavour
16 Had touch'd that fatal zone to her denied!
17 Young Fancy thus, to me divinest name,
18 To whom, prepar'd and bath'd in heaven,
19 The cest of amplest power is given:
20 To few the god like gift assignt,
21 To gird their blest prophetic loins,
22 And gaze her visions wild, and feel unmix'd her flame.
23 The band, as fairy legends say,
24 Was wove on that creating day,
25 When he, who call'd with thought to birth
26 Yon tented sky, this laughing earth,
27 And drest with springs, and forests tall,
28 And pour'd the main engirting all,
29 Long by the lov'd enthusiast woo'd,
30 Himself in some diviner mood,
31 Retiring, sat with her alone,
32 And plac'd her on his saphire throne,
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33 The whiles, the vaulted shrine around,
34 Seraphic wires were heard to sound!
35 Now sublimest triumph swelling,
36 Now on love and mercy dwelling;
37 And she, from out the veiling cloud,
38 Breath'd her magic notes aloud:
39 And thou, thou rich-hair'd youth of morn,
40 And all thy subject life was born!
41 The dangerous passions kept aloof,
42 Far from the sainted growing woof:
43 But near it sat ecstatic Wonder,
44 Listening the deep applauding thunder:
45 And Truth, in sunny vest array'd,
46 By whose the Tarsol's eyes were made:
47 All the shadowy tribes of Mind,
48 In braided dance their murmurs join'd,
49 And all the bright uncounted Powers,
50 Who feed on heaven's ambrosial flowers.
51 Where is the Bard, whose soul can now
52 Its high presuming hopes avow?
53 Where he who thinks, with rapture blind,
54 This hallow'd work for him design'd?
55 High on some cliff, to heaven up-pil'd,
56 Of rude access, of prospect wild,
57 Where, tangled round the jealous steep,
58 Strange shades o'erbrow the vallies deep,
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59 And holy Genii guard the rock,
60 Its glooms embrown, its springs unlock,
61 While on its rich ambitious head,
62 An Eden, like his own, lies spread.
63 I view that oak, the fancy'd glades among,
64 By which as Milton lay, his evening ear,
65 From many a cloud that dropp'd ethereal dew,
66 Nigh spher'd in heaven its native strains could hear:
67 On which that antient trump he reach'd was hung;
68 Thither of his glory greeting,
69 From Waller's myrtle shades retreating,
70 With many a vow from Hope's aspiring tongue,
71 My trembling feet his guiding steps pursue;
72 In vain Such bliss to one alone,
73 Of all the sons of soul was known,
74 And Heaven, and Fancy, kindred powers,
75 Have now o'erturn'd th' inspiring bowers,
76 Or curtain'd close such scene from every future view.

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): ODE ON THE POETICAL CHARACTER.
Themes: imagination; poetry; literature; writing
Genres: ode
References: DMI 31041

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. II. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 34-37. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1135)

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