[Page [241]]


* Doctor Darwin, in his poem of The Botanic Garden, attributes the rise of the principal rivers which spring from the mountains, to the action of the higher temperature of the soil at the foot of the glaciers. According to him, every thing is subordinate to a central fire, hidden in the depths of the earth, and on which the great phenomena of those mountainous countries depend. The modest snow-mantled Goddess of the Glaciers, expressed her jealousy of his nymphs of primeval fire, in the following complaint.

1 WHILE o'er the Alpine cliffs I musing stray'd,
2 And gaz'd on nature, in her charms severe,
3 The last soft beam of parting day display'd
4 The Glacier-Goddess, on her crystal sphere.
[Page 242]
5 Her sledgy car, with sparkling frost-work bright,
6 O'er the pellucid ice her snow-birds drew,
7 And on her fleecy robe's refracted light
8 The full-blown rose's vermeil colours threw.
9 Slow as she graceful lifts her misty veil,
10 Indignant griefs her mournful glance exprest,
11 And thus, in falt'ring tones, the vestal pale
12 Breath'd the deep sorrows of her beating breast:
13 "Native of that green isle, where DARWIN waves
14 His magic wand o'er nature's vernal reign,
15 Her airy essence and her central caves,
16 Her fires electric, and her nereid train:
17 "Go, tell him, stranger, had his muse explor'd
18 My realms, new marvels had enchain'd her eye;
19 Go, tell him, in my sunless fanes are stor'd
20 Treasures no vulgar glance shall e'er descry.
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21 "Ye nymphs of fire! around your glowing brows
22 What lavish wreaths your poet loves to twine;
23 Know, partial bard! philosophy allows
24 That one bright chaplet might belong to mine!
25 "Ah, why a vestal to a 'fiend'
* Botanic Garden, Canto I. v. 442.
26 Bid to my steeps thy glitt'ring bands repair,
27 Direct with cruel aim their arrowy storm,
28 And chain a goddess to the 'northern bear?'
29 "Stay thy rash steps! my potent hand impels
30 The rushing avalanche to gulphs below!
31 I can transfix thee, numb'd, in icy cells,
32 Or shroud thee in unfathom'd folds of snow!
33 "Come not in hostile garb! with softer art,
34 With dearer power, my yielding spirit seize;
35 Wake thy rich lyre, and melt my gelid heart
36 With incense sweeter than the western breeze.
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37 "Thy muse shall mount my Lammer-Geyer's wing,
38 Pass o'er my untrod heights, with daring course,
39 While the cold genii of each new-born spring
40 For thee unlock the rivers' viewless source.
41 "For thee my sylphs, with tender care, shall mark
42 The pointless pathway of the secret rills,
43 And light with lambent ray the caverns dark,
44 Where chemic nature mystic wealth distils.
45 "For thee my sylphs in distant lands shall trace,
46 Where, far diffus'd, my vivifying powers
47 Awake, ungrateful bard, in blushing grace,
48 To life and love, awake thy wedded flowers.
49 "For thee but ah, my pensive form he flies
50 For nymphs of golden locks and florid hue!
51 No charms have snow-white tints, or azure eyes "
52 She wept, and, folded in a cloud, withdrew.


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Genres: heroic quatrain; comic verse

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Williams, Helen Maria, 1759-1827. Poems on various subjects: with introductory remarks on the present state of science and literature in France. London: G. and W. B. Whittaker, 1823, pp. [241]-244.  (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [8º W 229 BS].)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Helen Maria Williams