Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PROLOGUE TO THE PLAY OF HENRY THE EIGHTH, by ANNA LETITIA BARBAULD



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PROLOGUE TO THE PLAY OF HENRY THE EIGHTH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When science, first, beneath her alfred's smile
Last Line: And the first longings for a lasting name.
Alternate Author Name(s): Aikin, Anna Letitia


When science, first, beneath her Alfred's smile,
Shed her young beams o'er this remotest isle,
Illustrious Oxford rose; he rear'd her tow'rs,
The willing Muses lov'd her sacred bow'rs:
Her rival sister, next, with growing pride,
Fix'd her fair seat where Cam's slow waters glide.
The noble youth, a long illustrious train,
Crowd to the court of learning's sacred fane;
Through all the land the gen'rous ardor spread;
Britons, who long had learn'd to conquer, read:
Sages and heroes kept an equal pace
To fire and to instruct a future race;
And where an Henry or an Edward fought,
A Shakespear painted, and a Newton taught.
Far humbler structures here, unknown to fame,
Fondly aspire to bear the muses name:
No stately piles of Gothic buildings rise,
Nor antique turrets catch th' admiring eyes;
These halls, from common ground so lately won,
Pomona yet remembers them her own;
No pomp of learned honours here we claim,
No princely favor, and no splendid name:
Our gowns -- you see the cut -- not made for shew,
Would ill content an Academic beau:
Science alone must dignify these seats,
And only virtue raise these calm retreats.
This night no common scenes we hold to view,
But such as Shakespear's glowing pencil drew:
Nor think it foreign from our peaceful sphere
To mimic war and fierce contention here.
Tho' now beneath this Academic shade,
No quarrels reach us, and no storms invade;
The time may come, when Britain shall demand
The dauntless breast, the enterprizing hand;
Then the warm youth whom Glory beckons far,
To shine in senates, or contend in war,
Shall own, that here he caught the gen'rous flame,
And the first longings for a lasting name.





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