"Hitherto the stores, / Which feed thy mind and exercise her powers, / Partake the relish of their native soil, / Their parent earth."

— Akenside, Mark (1720-1771)

Place of Publication
1744, 1772, 1795
"Hitherto the stores, / Which feed thy mind and exercise her powers, / Partake the relish of their native soil, / Their parent earth."
Metaphor in Context
But from what name, what favorable sign,
What heavenly auspice, rather shall I date
My perilous excursion, than from truth,
That nearest inmate of the human soul;
Estrang'd from whom, the countenance divine
Of man disfigur'd and dishonor'd sinks
Among inferior things? For to the brutes
Perception and the transient boons of sense
Hath fate imparted: but to man alone
Of sublunary beings was it given
Each fleeting impulse on the sensual powers
At leisure to review; with equal eye
To scan the passion of the stricken nerve
Or the vague object striking: to conduct
From sense, the portal turbulent and loud,
Into the mind's wide palace one by one
The frequent, pressing, fluctuating forms,
And question and compare them. Thus he learns
Their birth and fortunes; how allied they haunt
The avenues of sense; what laws direct
Their union; and what various discords rise,
Or fix'd or casual: which when his clear thought
Retains and when his faithful words express,
That living image of the external scene,
As in a polish'd mirror held to view,
Is truth: where'er it varies from the shape
And hue of its exemplar, in that part
Dim error lurks. Moreover, from without
When oft the same society of forms
In the same order have approach'd his mind,
He deigns no more their steps with curious heed
To trace; no more their features or their garb
He now examines; but of them and their
Condition, as with some diviner's tongue,
Affirms what heaven in every distant place,
Through every future season, will decree.
This too is truth: where'er his prudent lips
Wait till experience diligent and slow
Has authoriz'd their sentence, this is truth;
A second, higher kind: the parent this
Of science; or the lofty power herself,
Science herself: on whom the wants and cares
Of social life depend; the substitute
Of God's own wisdom in this toilsome world;
The providence of man. Yet oft in vain,
To earn her aid, with fix'd and anxious eye
He looks on nature's and on fortune's course:
Too much in vain. His duller visual ray
The stillness and the persevering acts
Of nature oft elude; and fortune oft
With step fantastic from her wonted walk
Turns into mazes dim. his sight is foil'd;
And the crude sentence of his faltering tongue
Is but opinion's verdict, half believ'd
And prone to change. Here thou, who feel'st thine ear
Congenial to my lyre's profounder tone,
Pause, and be watchful. Hitherto the stores,
Which feed thy mind and exercise her powers,
Partake the relish of their native soil,
Their parent earth.
But know, a nobler dower
Her sire at birth decreed her; purer gifts
From his own treasure; forms which never deign'd
In eyes or ears to dwell, within the sense
Of earthly organs; but sublime were plac'd
In his essential reason, leading there
That vast ideal host which all his works
Through endless ages never will reveal.
Thus then indow'd, the feeble creature man,
The slave of hunger and the prey of death,
Even now, even here, in earth's dim prison bound,
The language of intelligence divine
Attains; repeating oft concerning one
And many, pass'd and present, parts and whole,
Those sovran dictates which in farthest heaven,
Where no orb rowls, eternity's fix'd ear
Hears from coeval truth, when chance nor change,
Nature's loud progeny, nor nature's self
Dares intermeddle or approach her throne.
Ere long, o'er this corporeal world he learns
To extend her sway; while calling from the deep,
From earth and air, their multitudes untold
Of figures and of motions round his walk,
For each wide family some single birth
He sets in view, the impartial type of all
Its brethren; suffering it to claim, beyond
Their common heritage, no private gift,
No proper fortune. Then whate'er his eye
In this discerns, his bold unerring tongue
Pronounceth of the kindred, without bound,
Without condition. Such the rise of forms
Sequester'd far from sense and every spot
Peculiar in the realms of space or time:
Such is the throne which man for truth amid
The paths of mutability hath built
Secure, unshaken, still; and whence he views,
In matter's mouldering structures, the pure forms
Of triangle or circle, cube or cone,
Impassive all; whose attributes nor force
Nor fate can alter. There he first conceives
True being, and an intellectual world
The same this hour and ever. Thence he deems
Of his own lot; above the painted shapes
That fleeting move o'er this terrestrial scene
Looks up; beyond the adamantine gates
Of death expatiates; as his birthright claims
Inheritance in all the works of God;
Prepares for endless time his plan of life,
And counts the universe itself his home.
Searching "mind" and "exercise" in HDIS (Poetry)
Over 33 entries in the ESTC (1744, 1748, 1754, 1758, 1759, 1763, 1765, 1767, 1768, 1769, 1771, 1775, 1777, 1780, 1786, 1788, 1794, 1795, 1796). At least five editions in 1744.

Text from Mark Akenside, The Poems Of Mark Akenside (London: W. Bowyer and J. Nichols, 1772). <Link to LION>

Compare the poem as first published: Mark Akenside, The Pleasures of Imagination: A Poem. In Three Books. (London: Printed for R. Dodsley 1744). <Link to ESTC> <Link to ECCO-TCP> <Link to Google Books>

Also reading The Pleasures of Imagination (Otley, England: Woodstock Books, 2000), which reprints The Pleasures of Imagination. By Mark Akenside, M.D. to Which Is Prefixed a Critical Essay on the Poem, by Mrs. Barbauld. (London: Printed for T. Cadell, jun. and W. Davies, (successors to Mr. Cadell), 1795). <Link to ESTC>
Date of Entry
Date of Review

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.