[Page 285]

ODE on Ambition.

1 THE mariner, when first he sails,
2 While his bold oars the sparkling surface sweep,
3 With new delight, transported hails
4 The blue expanded skies, and level deep.
5 Such young Ambition's fearless aim,
6 Pleas'd with the gorgeous scene of wealth and power,
7 In the gay morn of early fame,
8 Nor thinks of evening storm, and gloomy hour.
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9 Life's opening views bright charms reveal,
10 Feed the fond wish, and fan the youthful fire.
11 But woes unknown those charms conceal,
12 And fair illusions cheat our fierce desire.
13 There Envy shows her sullen mien,
14 With changeful colour, grinning smiles of hate:
15 There Malice stabs, with rage serene;
16 In deadly silence, treacherous Friendships wait.
17 High on a mountain's lofty brow,
18 'Mid clouds and storms, has Glory fix'd her seat;
19 Rock'd by the roaring winds that blow,
20 The lightnings blast it, and the tempests beat.
21 Within the sun-gilt vale beneath,
22 More moderate Hope with sweet Contentment dwells.
23 While gentler breezes round them breathe,
24 And softer showers refresh their peaceful cells.
25 To better genius ever blind,
26 That points to each in varied life his share,
27 Man quits the path by heaven design'd,
28 To search for bliss among the thorns of care.
29 Our native powers we scorn to know;
30 With stedfast error still the wrong pursue;
31 Instruct our forward ills to grow;
32 While sad successes but our pain renew.
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33 In vain heaven tempers life with sweet,
34 With flowers the way, that leads us home, bestrews,
35 If dupes to passion, and deceit,
36 We drink the bitter, and the rugged chuse.
37 Few can on Grandeur's stage appear,
38 Each lofty part with true applause sustain,
39 No common virtue safe can steer,
40 Where rocks unnumber'd lurk beneath the main.
41 Then happiest he, whose timely hand
42 To cool Discretion has the helm resign'd;
43 Enjoys the calm, in sight of land,
44 From changing tides secure, and trustless wind.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): ODE on Ambition.
Themes: ambition
Genres: ode
References: DMI 26658

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Source edition

Dodsley, Robert, 1703-1764. A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. IV. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 285-287. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.004) (Page images digitized by the Eighteenth-Century Poetry Archive from a copy in the archive's library.)

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