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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

If Rightly Tuneful Bards Decide

Mark Akenside (1721–1770)

IF rightly tuneful bards decide,

If it be fix’d in Love’s decrees,

That Beauty ought not to be tried

But by its native power to please,

Then tell me, youths and lovers, tell,

What fair can Amoret excel?

Behold that bright unsullied smile,

And wisdom speaking in her mien:

Yet (she so artless all the while,

So little studious to be seen)

We nought but instant gladness know,

Nor think to whom the gift we owe.

But neither music, nor the powers

Of youth and mirth and frolic cheer,

Add half that sunshine to the hours,

Or make life’s prospect half so clear,

As memory brings it to the eye

From scenes where Amoret was by.

Yet not a satirist could there

Or fault or indiscretion find;

Nor any prouder sage declare

One virtue, pictur’d in his mind,

Whose form with lovelier colours glows

Than Amoret’s demeanour shows.

This sure is Beauty’s happiest part:

This gives the most unbounded sway:

This shall enchant the subject heart

When rose and lily fade away;

And she be still, in spite of time,

Sweet Amoret in all her prime.