Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Georgian Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Georgian Verse.  1909.
To the Evening Star
By Mark Akenside (1721–1770)
TO-NIGHT retir’d the queen of heaven
  With young Endymion stays:
And now to Hesper it is given
Awhile to rule the vacant sky,
Till she shall to her lamp supply        5
  A stream of brighter rays.
O Hesper, while the starry throng
  With awe thy path surrounds,
Oh, listen to my suppliant song,
If haply now the vocal sphere        10
Can suffer thy delighted ear
  To stoop to mortal sounds.
So may the bridegroom’s genial strain
  Thee still invoke to shine;
So may the bride’s unmarried train        15
To Hymen chaunt their flattering vow,
Still that his lucky torch may glow
  With lustre pure as thine.
Far other vows must I prefer
  To thy indulgent power.        20
Alas! but now I paid my tear
On fair Olympia’s virgin tomb;
And lo, from thence, in quest I roam
  Of Philomela’s bower.
Propitious send thy golden ray,        25
  Thou purest light above:
Let no false flame seduce to stray
Where gulf or steep lie hid for harm;
But lead where music’s healing charm
  May soothe afflicted love.        30
To them, by many a grateful song
  In happier seasons vow’d,
These lawns, Olympia’s haunt, belongs:
Oft by yon silver stream we walk’d,
Or fix’d, while Philomela talk’d,        35
  Beneath yon copses stood.
Nor seldom, where the beechen boughs
  That roofless tower invade,
We came while her enchanting Muse
The radiant moon above us held;        40
Till, by a clamorous owl compell’d,
  She fled the solemn shade.
But hark; I hear her liquid tone.
  Now, Hesper, guide my feet
Down the red marl with moss o’ergrown,        45
Through yon wild thicket next the plain,
Whose hawthorns choke the winding lane,
  Which leads to her retreat.
See the green space: on either hand
  Enlarg’d it spreads around:        50
See, in the midst she takes her stand,
Where one old oak his awful shade
Extends o’er half the level mead
  Inclos’d in woods profound.
Hark how through many a melting note        55
  She now prolongs her lays:
How sweetly down the void they float!
The breeze their magic path attends;
The stars shine out; the forest bends;
  The wakeful heifers gaze.        60
Whoe’er thou art whom chance may bring
  To this sequest’d spot,
If then the plaintive Siren sing,
O softly tread beneath her bower,
And think of heaven’s disposing power,        65
  Of man’s uncertain lot.
O think, o’er all this mortal stage,
  What mournful scenes arise;
What ruin waits on kingly rage;
How often virtue dwells with woe;        70
How many griefs from knowledge flow;
  How swiftly pleasure flies.
O sacred bird, let me at eve,
  Thus wandering all alone,
Thy tender counsel oft receive,        75
Bear witness to thy pensive airs,
And pity Nature’s common cares
  Till I forget my own.

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