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c A seat belonging to the earl of Leicester in the county of Norfolk.


1 THE lofty beeches, and their sacred shade
2 O'er Penshurst's flower embroider'd vale display'd,
3 Have yet their glory: not that Sidney's hand
4 "Marshall'd in even ranks th' obsequious band;"
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5 Or his fresh garlands in these bowers entwin'd,
6 Whilst all Arcadia open'd on his mind:
7 But here sweet Waller breath'd his amorous flame,
8 And taught the groves his Sacharissa's name;
9 Here met the Muse, "while gentle Love was by,
10 " That tun'd his lute, and wound the strings so high: "
11 Still with th' entraptur'd strains the valleys ring,
12 And the groves flourish in eternal Spring.
13 Eternal Spring smiles in those green retreats,
14 "No more the Monarch's, still the Muse's seats,"
15 Where crown'd with towers majestic Windsor stands,
16 And the wide world beneath her feet commands:
17 Not that her regal rampires boast the fame
18 Of each great Edward's, each great Henry's name;
19 Not that, in days of high-atchiev'd renown,
20 There Britain's Genius fix'd his aweful throne,
21 Encircled with that glorious blaze that springs
22 From conquer'd nations, and from captive kings:
23 When each proud trophy moulders from the wall,
24 And e'en the imperial dome itself shall fall:
25 When those great names, the Warrior and the Sage,
26 Lie clouded in the dark historic page;
27 Then shall the heaven-born Muse (to whom belong
28 The more than mortal-making powers of Song)
29 Thro' Time's deep shades her sacred light display,
30 And pour the beam of Fame's eternal day.
31 Queen of sweet numbers and melodious strains,
32 If yet thou deign to visit Britain's plains;
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33 If yet thy hallow'd haunts partake thy love,
34 Clear spring, enamel'd vale, or bowery grove;
35 O come, and range with me th' aspiring glades,
36 Where Leicester spreads the lawns and forms the shades,
37 On Holkham's plains bid Graecian structures rise,
38 And the tall column shoot into the skies:
39 Beneath whose proud survey, extended wide,
40 New scenes, new beauties charm on every side:
41 Here, crown'd with woods, the shaded hills ascend,
42 In open light there the low vales extend;
43 Here in rich harvests waves the ripen'd grain,
44 And there fresh verdure cloaths the pastur'd plain,
45 Sweetly intermix'd, and lovely to behold,
46 As the green emerald enchas'd in gold.
47 See where the limpid lake thro' pendant shades,
48 The hills between, her liquid treasures leads;
49 And to the boughs, that fringe her crisped sides,
50 Holds the clear mirror of her crystal tides:
51 Her crystal tides reflect the waving scene,
52 Their silvery surface darkening into green;
53 As on the steep banks, bending o'er the flood,
54 Grotesque and wild up springs th' o'ershadowing wood;
55 Or the slope margent, with a softer rise,
56 Shade above shade, and rank o'er rank supplies;
57 The verdant basis of yon' champain mound,
58 Its hallow'd head with God's own temple crown'd:
59 The home-bound mariner from far descries,
60 Emerging from the waves the tall tower rise;
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61 With transport bids the solemn structure hail,
62 And wing'd for Britain speeds the flying sail.
63 In nearer view, 'midst the lawn's wide extent,
64 That gently swells with an unforc'd ascent,
65 In just proportion rising on the sight,
66 The stately mansion lifts its towery height,
67 And glitters o'er the groves. An oak beneath,
68 That calls the cool gales thro' its boughs to breathe,
69 Where the sun darts his fervid rays in vain,
70 Like the great patriarch on Mamre's plain
71 The princely Leicester sits: the pageant pride
72 Of cumbrous greatness banish'd from his side,
73 In these blest bowers he plans the great design;
74 With heighten'd charms bids modest nature shine;
75 Shows us magnificence allied to use;
76 Tho' rich, yet chaste; tho' splendid, not profuse;
77 Calls forth each beauty that from order springs;
78 From its lov'd Greece each honour'd Science brings;
79 O'er Art's fair train extends his generous care;
80 And bids each polish'd Grace inhabit here.
81 Nor these alone: here Virtue loves to dwell,
82 No cold recluse self-cavern'd in a cell;
83 Active and warm she breathes a noble part,
84 Glows in the breast, and opens all the heart;
85 To generous deeds she fires th' empassion'd mind,
86 The substitute of heaven to bless mankind;
87 She thro' desponding Misery's chearless gloom
88 Pours joy, and gives neglected Worth to bloom;
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89 She in each bosom stills the rising sigh,
90 And wipes off every tear from every eye;
91 She to yon' alms-house, bosom'd in the grove,
92 From toil and cares bids Age and Want remove;
93 There the tir'd eve of labour'd life to rest,
94 Fed by her hand, and by her bounty blest.
95 These, these are rays that round true greatness shine,
96 And thine, bright Clifford! the full blaze is thine.
97 Bring the green bay, the fragraut myrtle bring,
98 The violet glowing in the lap of spring;
99 Bid the sweet vallies send each honied flower,
100 Each herb, each leaf of aromatic power;
101 The Muse's hand shall their mix'd odours spread,
102 And screw the ground where Clifford deigns to tread.
103 In distant prospect, sinking from the eye,
104 Low in the tufted dales the hamlets lie;
105 Where virgin Innocence, and meek-ey'd Peace,
106 With calm Content, the straw-roof'd cottage bless:
107 And strong-nerv'd Industry in purest flow
108 Spreads o'er the vermeil cheek Health's roseate glow.
109 More distant yet the throng'd commercial town,
110 That makes the wealth of other worlds her own,
111 Lifts her proud head, and sees with every tide
112 Rich-freighted navies croud her harbour'd side:
113 Or bids the parting vessel spread the sail
114 Loose to the wind, and catch the rising gale:
115 Whilst the vast ocean, Albion's utmost bound,
116 Rolls its broad wave, a world of waters, round.
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117 In sweet astonishment th' impatient Mind
118 Bids her free powers expatiate unconfin'd;
119 From scene to scene in rapid progress flies,
120 Glances from earth to seas, from seas to skies;
121 Delights to feel the great ideas roll,
122 Swell on the sense, and fill up all the soul.
123 Not such the scene, when o'er th' uncultur'd wild
124 No harvest rose, no chearful verdure smil'd;
125 On the bare hill no tree was seen to spread
126 The graceful foliage of its waving head;
127 No breathing hedge-row form'd the broider'd bound,
128 Nor hawthorn blossom'd on th' unsightly ground;
129 Joy was not here; no bird of finer note
130 Pour'd the thick warblings of his dulcet throat;
131 E'en Hope was fled; and o'er the chearless plain,
132 A waste of sand, Want held her unbless'd reign.
133 Lo, Leicester comes! Before his mastering hand
134 Flies the rude Genius of the savage land;
135 The russet lawns a sudden verdure wear;
136 Starts from the wondering fields the golden ear;
137 Up rise the waving woods, and haste to crown
138 The hill's bare brow, and shade the sultry down:
139 The shelter'd traveller sees, with glad surprise,
140 O'er trackless wilds th' extended rows arise;
141 And, as their hospitable branches spread,
142 Blesses the friendly hand that form'd the shade:
143 Joy blooms around, and chears the peasant's toil,
144 As smiling plenty decks the cultur'd soil;
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145 The brightning scenes a kinder Genius own,
146 And Nature finishes what Art begun.
147 But can the verse, tho' Philomela deign
148 To breathe the sweet notes thro' the warbled strain;
149 Tho' every Muse and every Grace should smile,
150 And raptures raise the honey-steeped style;
151 Can the verse paint like Nature? Can the power
152 That wakes to life free Fancy's imag'd store,
153 Boast charms like her's? or the creative hand
154 In blended tints such beauteous scenes command,
155 Tho' learned Poussin gives each grace to flow,
156 And bright Lorrain's ethereal colours glow?
157 Yet peerless is the power of sacred song,
158 That bursts in transport from the Muse's tongue:
159 And hark! methinks her hallow'd voice I hear,
160 In notes mellifluous stealing on the ear;
161 Now clearer, and yet clearer trills the strain,
162 Swells thro' the grove, and melts along the plain.
163 "Ye nymphs, that love to range the lillied vale,
164 " Where streams the silver fount of Acidale;
165 "Ye, that in Pindus' laurel'd groves abide,
166 " Or haunt Cyllene's cypress-shaded side;
167 "Or braid your fine wreaths in the pearly caves,
168 " Where fam'd Ilissus rolls his Attic waves;
169 "Whilst the barbarian's rude unletter'd race
170 " Profane your grottos, and your bowers deface,
171 "See Leicester courts you to th' Icenian shore,
172 " Studious your long-lost honours to restore!
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173 "See, the fair rival of your native seats,
174 " Aonian Holkham opens all its sweets;
175 "Deign then, ye sacred sisters! deign to tread
176 " The rich embroidery of yon velvet mead,
177 "As fresh, as lovely as your lilied vale,
178 " Where streams the silver fount of Acidale:
179 "If old Cyllene's cypress-shaded bower,
180 " Or Pindus' laurel'd mount delight you more;
181 "Go, sweet enthusiasts! softly-silent rove
182 " The studious mazes of the twilight grove;
183 "Or, at the foot of some hoar elm reclin'd,
184 " Wake the high thought that swells the raptur'd mind
185 "Or pensive listen to the solemn roar
186 " Of whitening billows breaking on the shore:
187 "If the majestic domes, whose towery pride
188 " Glitter o'er fam'd Ilissus' Attic tide,
189 "Your steps detain; yon' princely structure view,
190 " Grac'd with each finer art your Athens knew!
191 "Each finer art to just perfection brought,
192 " All that Vitruvius and Palladio thought;
193 "The trophied arch; the porphyry-pillar'd hall;
194 " The sculptur'd forms that breathe along the wall;
195 "Lycaean Pan; the faun's Arcadian race;
196 " The huntress-queen's inimitable grace;
197 "Athenian Pallas clad in radiant arms;
198 " Heaven's empress conscious of her slighted charms;
199 "Your own Apollo, on whose polish'd brow
200 " Youth blooms, and grace, and candor's brightning glow;
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201 "Gods, heroes, sages, an illustrious train,
202 " Court you to Holkham's consecrated plain.
203 "Haste then, ye sacred sisters! haste, and bring
204 " The laurel steep'd in the Castalian spring;
205 "On the choice bough a purer fragrance breathe,
206 " And twine for Leicester's brow th' unfading wreath. "
207 She ceas'd the raptur'd strain; and dear to fame,
208 Flows the proud verse inscrib'd with Leicester's name.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): HOLKHAM. A POEM.
Author: Robert Potter
Themes: landscapes
Genres: heroic couplet; prospect poem / topographical poem
References: DMI 32526

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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. 259-267. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1135)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

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