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Ode on Science


O, heavenly born! in deepest dells
If fairest science ever dwells
Beneath the mossy cave;
Indulge the verdure of the woods,
With azure beauty gild the floods,
And flowery carpets lave.

For, Melancholy ever reigns
Delighted in the sylvan scenes
With scientific light;
While Dian, huntress of the vales,
Seeks lulling sounds and fanning gales,
Though wrapt from mortal sight.

Yet, goddess, yet the way explore
With magic rites and heathen lore
Obstructed and depress'd;
Till Wisdom give the sacred Nine,
Untaught, not uninspired, to shine,
By Reason's power redress'd.

When Solon and Lycurgus taught
To moralize the human thought
Of mad opinion's maze,
To erring zeal they gave new laws,
Thy charms, O Liberty, the cause
That blends congenial rays.

Bid bright Astraea gild the morn,
Or bid a hundred suns be born,
To hecatomb the year;
Without thy aid, in vain the poles,
In vain the zodiac system rolls,
In vain the lunar sphere.

Come, fairest princess of the throng,
Bring sweet philosophy along,
In metaphysic dreams;
While raptured bards no more behold
A vernal age of purer gold,
In Heliconian streams.

Drive Thraldom with malignant hand,
To curse some other destined land,
By Folly led astray:
Ierne bear on azure wing;
Energic let her soar, and sing
Thy universal sway.

So when Amphion[1] bade the lyre
To more majestic sound aspire,
Behold the madding throng,
In wonder and oblivion drown'd,
To sculpture turn'd by magic sound
And petrifying song.


[Footnote 1: King of Thebes, and husband of Niobe; famous for his magical power with the lyre
by which the stones were collected for the building of the city.--Hor., "De Arte Poetica," 394.
--W. E. B.]


Jonathan Swift