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William Blake (1757–1827). The Poetical Works. 1908.

Poetical Sketches

An Imitation of Spenser

GOLDEN APOLLO, that thro’ heaven wide

Scatter’st the rays of light, and truth’s beams,

In lucent words my darkling verses dight,

And wash my earthy mind in thy clear streams,

That wisdom may descend in fairy dreams,

All while the jocund hours in thy train

Scatter their fancies at thy poet’s feet;

And when thou yields to night thy wide domain,

Let rays of truth enlight his sleeping brain.

For brutish Pan in vain might thee assay

With tinkling sounds to dash thy nervous verse,

Sound without sense; yet in his rude affray,

(For ignorance is Folly’s leasing nurse

And love of Folly needs none other’s curse)

Midas the praise hath gain’d of lengthen’d ears,

For which himself might deem him ne’er the worse

To sit in council with his modern peers,

And judge of tinkling rimes and elegances terse.

And thou, Mercurius, that with wingèd brow

Dost mount aloft into the yielding sky,

And thro’ Heav’n’s halls thy airy flight dost throw,

Entering with holy feet to where on high

Jove weighs the counsel of futurity;

Then, laden with eternal fate, dost go

Down, like a falling star, from autumn sky,

And o’er the surface of the silent deep dost fly:

If thou arrivest at the sandy shore

Where nought but envious hissing adders dwell,

Thy golden rod, thrown on the dusty floor,

Can charm to harmony with potent spell.

Such is sweet Eloquence, that does dispel

Envy and Hate that thirst for human gore;

And cause in sweet society to dwell

Vile savage minds that lurk in lonely cell.

O Mercury, assist my lab’ring sense

That round the circle of the world would fly,

As the wing’d eagle scorns the tow’ry fence

Of Alpine hills round his high aëry,

And searches thro’ the corners of the sky,

Sports in the clouds to hear the thunder’s sound,

And see the wingèd lightnings as they fly;

Then, bosom’d in an amber cloud, around

Plumes his wide wings, and seeks Sol’s palace high.

And thou, O warrior maid invincible,

Arm’d with the terrors of Almighty Jove,

Pallas, Minerva, maiden terrible,

Lov’st thou to walk the peaceful solemn grove,

In solemn gloom of branches interwove?

Or bear’st thy Ægis o’er the burning field,

Where, like the sea, the waves of battle move?

Or have thy soft piteous eyes beheld

The weary wanderer thro’ the desert rove?

Or does th’ afflicted man thy heav’nly bosom move?