"Yielded reason speaks the soul a slave."

— Thomson, James (1700-1748)

Work Title
Place of Publication
Andrew Millar
"Yielded reason speaks the soul a slave."
Metaphor in Context
'For Greece my sons of Egypt I forsook;
A boastful race, that in the vain abyss
Of fabling ages loved to lose their source,
And with their river traced it from the skies.
While there my laws alone despotic reign'd,
And king, as well as people, proud obey'd;
I taught them science, virtue, wisdom, arts;
By poets, sages, legislators sought;
The school of polish'd life, and human kind.
But when mysterious Superstition came,
And, with her Civil Sister leagued, involved
In studied darkness the desponding mind;
Then Tyrant Power the righteous scourge unloosed:
For yielded reason speaks the soul a slave.
Instead of useful works, like nature's, great,
Enormous, cruel wonders crush'd the land;
And round a tyrant's tomb, who none deserved,
For one vile carcass perish'd countless lives.
Then the great Dragon, couch'd amid his floods,
Swell'd his fierce heart, and cried, "This flood is mine,
'Tis I that bid it flow." But, undeceived,
His frenzy soon the proud blasphemer felt;
Felt that, without my fertilizing power,
Suns lost their force, and Niles o'erflow'd in vain.
Nought could retard me: nor the frugal state
Of rising Persia, sober in extreme,
Beyond the pitch of man, and thence reversed
Into luxurious waste: nor yet the ports
Of old Phoenicia; first for letters famed,
That paint the voice, and silent speak to sight;
Of arts prime source, and guardian! by fair stars,
First tempted out into the lonely deep;
To whom I first disclosed mechanic arts,
The winds to conquer, to subdue the waves,
With all the peaceful power of ruling trade;
Earnest of Britain. Nor by these retain'd;
Nor by the neighbouring land, whose palmy shore
The silver Jordan laves. Before me lay
The promised Land of Arts, and urged my flight.
(Part II, ll. 47-85, pp. 58-9)
Searching in HDIS (Poetry)
At least 40 entries in ECCO and ESTC (1735, 1736, 1738, 1762, 1766, 1767, 1768, 1771, 1773, 1774, 1775, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1784, 1787, 1788, 1790). [Published in The Works of the English Poets.]

Published in parts; complicated publication history. See Part 1: Antient and Modern Italy Compared: Being the First Part of Liberty, a Poem. By Mr. Thomson. (London: Printed for A. Millar, over-against St. Clement’s Church in the Strand, 1735). Part 2: Greece: Being the Second Part of Liberty, a Poem. By Mr. Thomson (London: Printed for A. Millar, 1735). Part 3: Rome: Being the Third Part of Liberty, a Poem. By Mr. Thomson (London: Printed for A. Millar, 1735). Part 4: Britain: Being the Fourth Part of Liberty, a Poem. By Mr. Thomson. (London: Printed for A. Millar, 1736). Part 5: The Prospect: Being the Fifth Part of Liberty. A Poem. By Mr. Thomson. (London: printed for A. Millar, 1736).

Text from The Poetical Works of James Thomson (London: William Pickering, 1830). <Link to LION>

Reading Liberty, The Castle of Indolence, and other Poems, ed. James Sambrook (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986).
Date of Entry

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