"The thought-kindling light, / Thy prime production, darts upon my mind / Its vivifying beams, my heart illumines, / And fills my soul with gratitude and Thee."

— Smart, Christopher (1722-1771)

Place of Publication
March 1756
"The thought-kindling light, / Thy prime production, darts upon my mind / Its vivifying beams, my heart illumines, / And fills my soul with gratitude and Thee."
Metaphor in Context
Immense Creator! whose all-powerful hand
Fram'd universal Being, and whose Eye
Saw like thyself, that all things form'd were good;
Where shall the tim'rous bard thy praise begin,
Where end the purest sacrifice of song,
And just thanksgiving?--The thought-kindling light,
Thy prime production, darts upon my mind
Its vivifying beams, my heart illumines,
And fills my soul with gratitude and Thee
Hail to the chearful rays of ruddy morn,
That paint the streaky East, and blithsome rouse
The birds, the cattle, and mankind from rest!
Hail to the freshness of the early breeze,
And Iris dancing on the new-fall'n dew!
Without the aid of yonder golden globe
Lost were the garnet's lustre, lost the lilly,
The tulip and auricula's spotted pride;
Lost were the peacock's plumage, to the sight
So pleasing in its pomp and glossy glow.
O thrice-illustrious! were it not for thee
Those pansies, that reclining from the bank,
View thro' th'immaculate, pellucid stream
Their portraiture in the inverted heaven,
Might as well change their triple boast, the white,
The purple, and the gold, that far outvie
The Eastern monarch's garb, ev'n with the dock,
Ev'n with the baneful hemlock's irksome green.
Without thy aid, without thy gladsome beams
The tribes of woodland warblers wou'd remain
Mute on the bending branches, nor recite
The praise of him, who, e'er he form'd their lord,
Their voices tun'd to transport, wing'd their flight,
And bade them call for nurture, and receive;
And lo! they call; the blackbird and the thrush,
The woodlark, and the redbreast jointly call;
He hears and feeds their feather'd families,
He feeds his sweet musicians,--nor neglects
Th'invoking ravens in the greenwood wide;
And tho' their throats coarse ruttling hurt the ear,
They mean it all for music, thanks and praise
They mean, and leave ingratitude to man;--
But not to all,--for hark! the organs blow
Their swelling notes round the cathedral's dome,
And grace th'harmonious choir, celestial feast
To pious ears, and med'cine of the mind;
The thrilling trebles of the manly base
Join in accordance meet, and with one voice
All to the sacred subject suit their song:
While in each breast sweet melancholy reigns
Angelically pensive, till the joy
Improves and purifies;--the solemn scene
The Sun thro' storied panes surveys with awe,
And bashfully with-holds each bolder beam.
Here, as her home, from morn to eve frequents
The cherub Gratitude;--behold her eyes!
With love and gladness weepingly they shed
Extatic smiles; the incense, that her hands
Uprear, is sweeter than the breath of May
Caught from the nectarine's blossom, and her voice
Is more than voice can tell; to him she sings,
To him who feeds, who clothes and who adorns,
Who made and who preserves, whatever dwells
In air, in stedfast earth, or fickle sea.
O He is good, he is immensely good!
Who all things form'd, and form'd them all for man;
Who mark'd the climates, varied every zone,
Dispensing all his blessings for the best
In order and in beauty:--raise, attend,
Attest, and praise, ye quarters of the world!
Bow down, ye elephants, submissive bow
To him, who made the mite; tho' Asia's pride,
Ye carry armies on your tow'r-crown'd backs,
And grace the turban'd tyrants, bow to him
Who is as great, as perfect and as good
In his less-striking wonders, till at length
The eye's at fault and seeks th'assisting glass.
Approach and bring from Araby the blest
The fragrant cassia, frankincense and myrrh,
And meekly kneeling at the altar's foot
Lay all the tributary incense down.
Stoop, sable Africa, with rev'rence stoop,
And from thy brow take off the painted plume;
With golden ingots all thy camels load
T'adorn his temples, hasten with thy spear
Reverted, and thy trusty bow unstrung,
While unpursu'd the lions roam and roar,
And ruin'd tow'rs, rude rocks and caverns wide
Remurmur to the glorious, surly sound.
And thou, fair Indian, whose immense domain
To counterpoise the Hemisphere extends,
Haste from the West, and with thy fruits and flow'rs,
Thy mines and med'cines, wealthy maid, attend.
More than the plenteousness so fam'd to flow
By fabling bards from Amalthea's horn
Is thine; thine therefore be a portion due
Of thanks and praise: come with thy brilliant crown
And vest of fur; and from thy fragrant lap
Pomegranates and the rich ananas pour.
But chiefly thou, Europa, seat of grace
And Christian excellence, his goodness own,
Forth from ten thousand temples pour his praise;
Clad in the armour of the living God
Approach, unsheath the spirit's flaming sword;
Faith's shield, Salvation's glory,--compass'd helm
With fortitude assume, and o'er your heart
Fair truth's invulnerable breast-plate spread;
Then join the general chorus of all worlds,
And let the song of charity begin
In strains seraphic, and melodious pray'r.
(pp. 35-7, ll. 18-126)
At least 6 entries in ECCO and ESTC (1756, 1773, 1789, 1790, 1791).

Text from The Poems of the Late Christopher Smart ... Consisting of His Prize Poems, Odes, Sonnets, and Fables, Latin and English Translations: Together With Many Original Compositions, Not Included in the Quarto Edition. To Which Is Prefixed, an Account of His Life and Writings, Never Before Published. 2 vols. (London: Printed and Sold by Smart and Cowslade; and sold by F. Power and Co., 1791).

See also On the Goodness of the Supreme Being. A Poetical Essay. by Christopher Smart, M. A. of Pembroke-Hall in the University of Cambridge. (Cambridge: Printed by J. Bentham Printer to the University. Sold by W. Thurlbourn, and T. Merrill, Booksellers in Cambridge; J. Newbery in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, and T. Gardner at Cowley’s Head in the Strand, London, 1756). <Link to ESTC>

Reading in Katrina Williamson and Marcus Walsh, eds., Christopher Smart: Selected Poems (New York: Penguin Books, 1990).
Date of Entry

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