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THE PRAISES OF ISIS; A POEM.

WRITTEN MDCCLV.

1 CASTALIAN goddess, come; nor slight the call
2 Of simplest bard; auspicious come, and prompt
3 The flowing numbers; so may Isis lend
4 Attentive ear well-pleas'd, nor with disdain
5 Reject the wreath of freshest flowrets cull'd
6 From Pindus' hill to deck her lovely brow.
7 Begin; what Muse to Isis shall deny
8 The votive song? for Isis loves the Muse.
9 Thee, fairest Naiad, oft at early dawn
10 I meditate, till Evening, matron staid,
11 Her tresses dripping with ambrosial dew
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12 Advance slow-pacing from the gilded West;
13 Nor cease I to reflect, how blest are they,
14 To envy blest, that in thy peaceful haunts
15 Hold pleasing dalliance with the Muses' train;
16 Yet tho' in other clime I rest remote,
17 Ill-fated, that my wayward lot forbids
18 To wander thy green verge beside, shalt thou
19 Remain unsung; while now the hoary Cam
20 Hard by me rolls his slowly-winding wave.
21 As where Apelles in accordance meet
22 Weds light to shade; and with Promethean art
23 Teaches the breathing canvas to express
24 A furtive life; with wonder we behold
25 Unnumbered beauties rush upon the sight,
26 Gazing, while on the border of the lip
27 Stands mute Suspence, yet doubtful which may first
28 Demand, which last, the tribute of applause;
29 Thus, Isis, while for thee I string the lyre,
30 The tongue of praise awhile forgets its purpose,
31 In magic wonder bound; nor knows the Muse
32 Lost in the pleasing labyrinth, where to bend
33 Her footstep first. Say, shall I first rehearse,
34 How thou, a virgin yet, wert whilom wont
35 In Nereus' hall to join the festive dance
36 Thy sister train among, the fairest thou
37 Of all the Naiads, that with silver foot
38 Skim the smooth surface of the glassy deep?
39 Say, rather shall I sing, how kingly Thame
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40 (If holy bards in better ages born
41 Have story'd true) to share his watery bed
42 Thee woo'd long loving? nor in proud disdain
43 Didst thou refuse with kingly Thame to mix
44 Thy marriageable wave
z Vid. the marriage of the Thames and Medway in Spenser's Faery Queen.
. To Neptune's court
45 Upon that great solemnity repair'd
46 The river gods: all that from crystal urn
47 Enrichening moisture pour o'er British plains.
48 There first advancing with imperial port
49 Proud Humber came; majestic as the god
50 Whose mighty trident
a Neptune.
shakes the trembling earth:
51 Next Severn, conscious of Sabrina's
b Vid. Milton in Comus.
fate,
52 The king of floods; in greenish mantle clad
53 Bespangled here and there with costly gems
54 And many a glistering pearl: there too was seen
55 The Medway, and the hoarse-resounding Trent,
56 The pleasant Medway, that with conscious pride
57 Beholds the glorious race
c Scil. the men of Kent.
, who long of yore
58 Breathing stern-visag'd valour scorn'd to stoop
59 The servile neck to William's
d William the conqueror.
galling yoke,
60 Unconquerable souls: the yellow Ouse
61 There came, and Towy winding up and down
62 His watry folds, and Deva
e Milton speaks of the river Dce or Deva, in this manner:
Where Deva spreads it's wizard stream.
Lycidas.
held of old
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63 A sacred current; with the blue-rob'd Dove
f Alluding to the bluish colour of its waters.
,
64 And Derwent, sister streams; and Avon
g Shakespear was buried, and has a monument erected to him at Stratford upon Avon.
fair,
65 The silver-sandal'd nymph: whose bank along
66 At silent eve in pensive posture stretch'd,
67 Calls raptur'd Fancy from Elysian bower
68 Her darling Shakespear's ever hallow'd shade.
69 There was the Tweed, the turret-crested Tyne,
70 And Eden, famous stream; who hath not heard
71 Of Eden? there the plowman as he turns
72 With crooked share the bordering glebe, full oft
73 Gauntlets and rust-worn spears and vizor'd helms,
74 And pond'rous shields with quaint device pourtray'd,
75 And bones enormous of gigantic size
76 With gaping wonder sees; then calls to mind
77 The well known tale, how there by British knights
78 Was many a bold exploit and bloody fight
79 Atchiev'd of old. But tedious 'twere to name
80 All that with one accord to Neptune's hall
81 Then came, when now the beauteous Isis gave
82 To mix with royal Thame's uxorious flood
83 Her virgin stream. Nor on that solemn day
84 Was wanting (then with rural chaplet crown'd,
85 Tho' now adorn'd with many a glittering tower)
86 Thou, father Cam: that oft with kind attention
87 Hast deign'd awhile to listen, as I tun'd
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88 The simple madrigal; nor jealous he,
89 That now his windings intricate I trace
90 With musing gait; and teach the mimic nymph,
91 All as she sits his flowery bank along,
92 To sound the praises of a sister flood:
93 And can I sing aught better, than thy praise,
94 O lovely Isis? lovelier in the eye
95 Of Phoebus seen, than erst the silver stream
96 Of fabled Castaly; and fam'd as that
97 Which flow'd Minerva's city
h Scil. Athens.
fast beside,
98 Ilissus, nurse of each ingenuous art.
99 Should I rehearse, or those, whose bounty bad
100 The liquid mirrour of thy glassy wave
101 Yon towery mansions to reflect; or those,
102 Thy darling progeny, who burn'd to grasp
103 Immortal fame, and with unwearied search
104 Urg'd flying Science to its inmost maze;
105 Should I their names rehearse, the sun, that now
106 His mattin beam wide scattering tips with gold
107 The ragged skirt of yonder orient cloud,
108 Wou'd drink the western wave, or ever ceas'd
109 The lengthen'd song. These structures Bodley plann'd;
110 Those Sheldon's bounty rear'd. That beauteous dome
i Radcliffe's library,
111 Bids grateful Isis still adore the shade
112 Of Radcliffe, honour'd name: him Paean taught
113 (For he was lov'd of Paean) to explore
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114 The medicinal power of juicy shrub
115 And healing plant, that o'er her verdant lap
116 With free profusion parent Nature strews;
117 Nor thankless he; for to the god he rear'd
118 In pious gratitude a stately fane.
119 Whence rose yon fabric
k Christ-church college.
, that conspicuous lifts
120 Its sky-topt dome with more majestic pride?
121 'Twas Wolsey's glorious work: to Science rise
122 No towers more lov'd; for there the mitred sage
l The Bishop of Bristol, then dean of the above cathedral.
,
123 In wisdom's lore deep skill'd, with kindest eye
124 Observes the budding Genius as it thrusts
125 Its youthful blossoms; or with conscious joy
126 There oft in recollection sweet beholds
127 Those, (whom his honest nurture erst inform'd
128 With all that's deem'd or excellent or fair)
129 O'er Britain's peaceful land their goodly beams
130 Dispense abroad: names, that to latest time
131 Shall shine distinguish'd in the rolls of Fame.
132 Oft, as thou sat'st within thy pearl pav'd grot,
133 With pleas'd attention, Isis, hast thou caught
134 The dulcet sounds, when in yon sacred grove,
135 To Phoebus sacred, woo'd the Latian Muse
136 Sweet Addison: who like the sedulous bee
137 Rifled each honey-bosom'd flower, that edg'd
138 The fount of Helicon. Why loves to bend
139 His lonely step to yonder aged oak,
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140 Deep musing, while bright Cynthia silvers o'er
141 The negro forehead of uncomely Night,
142 Th' enraptur'd Bard? and on the dew-sprent turf
143 His temples pillowing, sees before him dance
144 (Or dreams he sees) the Muses Nine, and glows
145 With inspiration strange? There Fame records
146 Custom'd the merry Chaucer erst to frame
147 His laughter-moving tale: nor, when his harp
148 He tun'd to notes of louder pitch, and sung
149 Of ladies passing fair, and bloody jousts,
150 And warrior steeds, and valour-breathing knights
151 For matchless prowess fam'd, deserv'd he not
152 The laureat wreath; for he, like Phoebus, knew
153 To build in numbers apt the lofty song.
154 "Whence art thou, gracious Presence? Art thou sent
155 " From heaven, an angel minister, to bless
156 "These favour'd seats? for that excelling form
157 " Bespeaks thee more than man; "in wonder wrapt
158 Thus Isis cry'd, while on her margent green
159 In youthful grace how amiable! stood
160 Britannia's rising hope
l Edward the Black Prince.
. With stedfast eye
161 Long time she gaz'd unsatisfied, and mark'd
162 Each godlike thought, that imag'd on his look
163 With strong reflection shone, the undoubted pledge
164 Of future deeds: tho' yet was Cressy's plain
165 Unstain'd with slaughter: nor had Gallia's king
m John, king of France taken prisoner by Edward the Black Prince.
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166 His ravag'd crown yet mourn'd; nor deem'd, that soon
167 Wou'd dawn the luckless day, when he must drag
168 The galling bond of sore captivity
n Alluding to the manner of a Roman triumph.
,
169 The gaze of clustering multitudes, and deck
170 The glorious triumph of a British boy.
171 Nor, while yon fair aspiring domes adorn
172 Thy verge, O Isis, shall unmention'd pass
173 Alfred, auspicious name: say, goddess say,
174 Bursts not thy breast with swelling raptures fraught,
175 While Memory with her foregeful pencil paints
176 The glorious portrait? On the godlike form
177 Advanc'd, not graceful less, than on the top
178 Of Delian Cynthus, steps Latona's son,
179 In mildest majesty: beside him went,
180 As musing deep, an hoary-headed Sa,
181 Of wonderous reverence; on his broad smooth front
182 Had Wisdom stampt its fair similitude.
183 The laurel grac'd his temples: in his hand
184 A golden harp, Apollo's gift, he bore;
185 And oft with cunning finger was he wont
186 To rove along the sounding strings, and lift
187 The ravish'd soul of statue-fixt Attention
188 To the heaven of rapture O how sweet thy charms,
189 All-powerful Harmony! in years indeed
190 Advanc'd he seem'd; yet on the cheek of age
191 Hale vigour with unfading freshness bloom'd;
192 Upright he stept in stately mien, and breath'd
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193 Amiable dignity: such seem'd of yore
194 The sire of Jove, what time on Latian plains
195 He dwelt with Janus, hospitable king.
196 Well knew, what was, what is, what is to come,
197 The reverend Sage; and wisely could he treat
198 Of justice, truth, and universal love
199 From man to man; and mark the limits, when
200 Virtue is virtue; when its mad excess
201 Strays headlong into vice: he too could tell
202 How moves the planet in harmonious dance
203 Its central sun around: whence Iris steals
204 The bright variety of hues, that fringe
205 Her humid bow; how springs of night and day
206 The due vicissitude; why o'er the earth
207 Circling the year with grateful interchange
208 The wandering seasons roll; of higher things
209 Nor knew not he; for of th' aetherial mind,
210 That beams to day, to-morrow, and for ever,
211 An unextinguish'd spark; of nature's laws;
212 And nature's God full well could he discourse.
213 Him gracious Heaven in pity to mankind
214 Sent from its star-pav'd court (so sung beneath
215 His ivy'd oak of yore the Druid sage)
216 And nam'd him SCIENCE: first on Asian clime
217 He settled, there where proud Euphrates rolls
218 Amid Chaldaean plains, or on the bank
219 Of Pharian Nile; there he his favourite seat
220 Long choosing, soften'd with refinements meet
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221 The savage genius of mankind, and taught
222 With awful laws to curb licentious guilt,
223 To build the wall girt city, and to frame
224 The peaceful league of blest society
225 With all the sweet civilities of life.
226 Him Greece from thence with open arms embrac'd
227 A welcome guest: but chief he lov'd to haunt
228 The porch of Academe; where mildly beam'd
229 The modest wisdom of good Socrates;
230 Where wont the honey'd
o Alluding to the fable of the bees settling on the lips of Plato; which was look'd on as an omen of the sweetness of his diction.
eloquence to flow
231 From Plato's sweet-distilling lip; and where
232 The letter'd
p Aristotle, who was born at Stagyra.
Stagyrite from Nature's source
233 His maxims drew. Nor on Ausonian coast
234 Was Science honour'd less; since there had come
235 The Samian
q Pythagoras, born at Samos.
sage, who smit with love of knowledge
236 O'er many a distant realm had stretch'd his search,
237 And climates warm'd beneath another sun.
238 At length when now in more degenerate times
239 Had exile Freedom loath'd the Hesperian shore,
240 With crooked keel did heaven-born Science plow
241 The swelling back of Ocean, till he gain'd
242 Neptunian Albion's hospitable beech;
243 The nurse of Liberty; for ill, I ween,
244 Can Learning thrive, if Freedom shall deny
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245 To cherish with mild ray the rising flower;
246 To Albion isle he came, what time was sheath'd
247 The sword of war; and Alfred's arm had crush'd
248 The might of Paynim foes: the gracious king
249 With gladness hail'd his venerable guest;
250 And led him forth, where thro' the flowery meads
251 The silver Isis winds her liquid maze.
252 When thus the royal goodness spake benign:
253 "Here deign, O heaven-descended Sage, to fix
254 " Thy favourite mansion; here to latest times
255 "Instruct thy sons (nor think that Britons bear
256 " Such savage-hearted natures, but will melt
257 "In soft humanity) thy secret stores
258 " To pierce with curious diligence, and snatch
259 "Each fair perfection, each excelling art,
260 " And all, that profits or delights mankind;
261 "Here (as reclining on the peaceful lap
262 " Of Leisure not inglorious, they delight
263 "To muse in calm Retirement's lonely haunt)
264 " Instruct them to pursue the unerring print
265 "Of Wisdom's step; or with no lowly flight,
266 " High borne on Contemplation's eagle wing,
267 "To rise from nature up to nature's God.
268 " How happy they! whom thou shalt give to tread
269 "The pleasant paths of knowledge, and to weave
270 " The lawrel chaplet for their honour'd brows! "
271 He ceas'd, with look mild as when Phoebus sheds
272 His soft effulgence on autumnal eve.
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273 The laurel'd seer in thankful guise bow'd low
274 His hoary reverence:" With peculiar love
275 "Sure heaven then looks (he cry'd) on mortals down,
276 " When kings, like Alfred, rise; whose patriot souls
277 "Still center in a nation's good; who live
278 " By glorious works to make their country great:
279 "Such well deserve to rule:
r Vid. the speech of Sarpedon to Glaucus in Homer.
such heaven beholds
280 "Well-pleas'd; nor grudges, that to them it gave
281 " Its high vicegerency. In future time
282 "Some one mayhap, the whilst he shall behold
283 " With conscious pride, how far his native land
284 "Transcends whatever vaunts historic fame
285 " Of polish'd Athens, and imperial Rome
286 "The seat of demi-gods, in holy rapture
287 " Shall bless the name of Alfred; and relate,
288 "That he, still anxious for his Britain's weal,
289 " Led Science there where thro' the flowery meads
290 "Her liquid maze the silver Isis winds
291 " Nor shalt thou, hospitable flood, where now
292 "I stay my wandering feet, a stranger guest,
293 " Unhonour'd flow: for on thy grassy brim
294 "Full oft shalt thou in silent joy behold,
295 " Bards that shall know to bind the captiv'd soul
296 "With energy of song; and sages wise,
297 " As whilom mus'd th' Athenian stream beside;
298 "And statesmen, patriot souls, with merit fraught
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299 " And virtue more than Roman. Here shall rise
300 "My best-lov'd progeny
s Mr. Locke, who was of Christ-church college.
, that shall explore
301 "(Of Heaven how highly favour'd) what till then
302 " Stagger'd the pedant's pride, and slipt the grasp
303 "Of baffled sophist: he with Truth's bright ray
304 " The ten-fold gloom, which darkening logic spread,
305 "Shall pierce; and, like the golden-footed morn,
306 " Scatter abroad the chearing beam of light.
307 "These are the glories, that with influence sweet
308 " Shall gild thy shores, blest Isis: these are they,
309 "With homage due that each revolving year
310 " Shall visit Alfred's hallowed shrine, and bring
311 "The pledge of gratitude and filial love."

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Title (in Source Edition): THE PRAISES OF ISIS; A POEM. WRITTEN MDCCLV.
Author: Charles Emily
Themes: patriotism; glory of the British nation; landscapes
Genres: blank verse; prophecy; prospect poem / topographical poem
References: DMI 32574

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. III. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 131-143. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1136)

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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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