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Mark Akenside

(1721-1770 / England)

Friendship and Love


A DIALOGUE: Addressed to a young Lady.

Friendship:

In vain thy lawless Fires contend with mine,
Tho' Crouds unnumber'd fall before thy Shrine;
Let Youths, who ne'er aspir'd to noble Fame,
And the soft Virgin, kindle at thy Flame,
Thee, Son of Indolence and Vice, I scorn,
By Reason nourish'd, and of Virtue born.

Love:

Vain is that boasted Reason 'gainst my Dart,
I pierce the Sage's, as the vulgar Heart,
All Ages, Sexes, the soft Torment share,
The hoary Patriot, and the blooming Fair.
To narrow Limits is thy Sway confin'd,
To some few Breasts, I triumph o'er Mankind.

Friendship:

From grov'ling Sources, ever springs thy Pow'r,
Still varying Fancy, and frail Beauty's Flow'r:
Then with its Cause the short liv'd Ardour flies,
A flash of Passion that but gleams and dies.
Mine upon Virtue rais'd, still lives the same,
In gen'rous Hearts a constant equal Flame.

Love:

Love is not always that degen'rate thing,
I too from Virtue, as from Beauty spring.
Thou to the same dull Circle ever true,
Know'st but one Form all Tempers to subdue
Wide is my Empire, manyfold my Arts,
And various are the Plumes that wing my Darts.
Here a Fair face allures desiring Eyes,
There Modesty and Sense enslave the Wise.

Thus whilst each Pow'r with equal Warmth contends,
The Clouds divide, an heavenly Form descends,
Wings o'er his Shoulders mantling wav'd, behind
His snowy Garments floated in the wind;
A Wreath of mingled Flow'rs adorned his Head,
Immortal Flow'rs by Mold Ætherial fed,
Graceful he mov'd in Youth and Beauty's pride,
His Cheeks Aurora's op'ning Blushes dy'd,
A flaming Torch he bore, approaching now,
Fair Hymen Guardian of the nuptial Vow,
They knew and paus'd, He first the Silence broke,
Celestial Musick warbled as he spoke.

Cease, rival Pow'rs, with Rage unjust to glow,
Ye both to Men the noblest Gifts bestow.
Howe'er by Folly or by Vice abus'd,
Blessings are turn'd to Curses when misus'd.

Mine be the Praise the Gifts of both to blend.
And to the virtuous Lover join the Friend.
Thus shall Life glide away in mutual Joys,
Sweets that ne'er tire, and Rapture that ne'er cloys.

So blest an Union, Anna mayst thou prove,
A constant Friendship, in a tender Love.

Submitted: Saturday, April 17, 2010

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