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Erasmus Darwin (Эразм Дарвин)


The Botanic Garden Part 3


The Economy Of Vegetation

Canto III

AGAIN the GODDESS speaks!-glad Echo swells
The tuneful tones along her shadowy dells,
Her wrinkling founts with soft vibration shakes,
Curls her deep wells, and rimples all her lakes,
Thrills each wide stream, Britannia's isle that laves,
Her headlong cataracts, and circumfluent waves.
-Thick as the dews, which deck the morning flowers,
Or rain-drops twinkling in the sun-bright showers,
Fair Nymphs, emerging in pellucid bands,
Rise, as she turns, and whiten all the lands.

I. 'YOUR buoyant troops on dimpling ocean tread,
Wafting the moist air from his oozy bed,
AQUATIC NYMPHS!-YOU lead with viewless march
The winged vapours up the aerial arch,
On each broad cloud a thousand sails expand,
And steer the shadowy treasure o'er the land,
Through vernal skies the gathering drops diffuse,
Plunge in soft rains, or sink in silver dews.-
YOUR lucid bands condense with fingers chill
The blue mist hovering round the gelid hill;
In clay-form'd beds the trickling streams collect,
Strain through white sands, through pebbly veins direct;
Or point in rifted rocks their dubious way,
And in each bubbling fountain rise to day.

'NYMPHS! YOU then guide, attendant from their source,
The associate rills along their sinuous course;
Float in bright squadrons by the willowy brink,
Or circling slow in limpid eddies sink;
Call from her crystal cave the Naiad-Nymph,
Who hides her fine form in the passing lymph,
And, as below she braids her hyaline hair,
Eyes her soft smiles reflected in the air;
Or sport in groups with River-Boys, that lave
Their silken limbs amid the dashing wave;
Pluck the pale primrose bending from its edge,
Or tittering dance amid the whispering sedge.-

'Onward YOU pass, the pine-capt hills divide,
Or feed the golden harvests on their side;
The wide-ribb'd arch with hurrying torrents fill,
Shove the slow barge, or whirl the foaming mill.
OR lead with beckoning hand the sparkling train
Of refluent water to its parent main,
And pleased revisit in their sea-moss vales
Blue Nereid-forms array'd in shining scales,
Shapes, whose broad oar the torpid wave impels,
And Tritons bellowing through their twisted shells.

'So from the heart the sanguine stream distils,
O'er Beauty's radiant shrine in vermil rills,
Feeds each fine nerve, each slender hair pervades,
The skins bright snow with living purple shades,
Each dimpling cheek with warmer blushes dyes,
Laughs on the lips, and lightens in the eyes.
-Erewhile absorb'd, the vagrant globules swim
From each fair feature, and proportion'd limb,
Join'd in one trunk with deeper tint return
To the warm concave of the vital urn.

II. 1.'AQUATIC MAIDS! YOU sway the mighty realms
Of scale and shell, which Ocean overwhelms;
As Night's pale Queen her rising orb reveals,
And climbs the zenith with refulgent wheels,
Car'd on the foam your glimmering legion rides,
Your little tridents heave the dashing tides,
Urge on the sounding shores their crystal course,
Restrain their fury, or direct their force.

2.'NYMPHS! YOU adorn, in glossy volumes roll'd,
The gaudy conch with azure, green, and gold.
You round Echinus ray his arrowy mail,
Give the keel'd Nautilus his oar and sail;
Firm to his rock with silver cords suspend
The anchor'd Pinna, and his Cancer-friend;
With worm-like beard his toothless lips array,
And teach the unwieldy Sturgeon to betray.-
Ambush'd in weeds, or sepulcher'd in sands,
In dread repose He waits the scaly bands,
Waves in red spires the living lures, and draws
The unwary plunderers to his circling jaws,
Eyes with grim joy the twinkling shoals beset,
And clasps the quick inextricable net.
You chase the warrior Shark, and cumberous Whale,
And guard the Mermaid in her briny vale;
Feed the live petals of her insect-flowers,
Her shell-wrack gardens, and her sea-fan bowers;
With ores and gems adorn her coral cell,
And drop a pearl in every gaping shell.

3. 'YOUR myriad trains o'er stagnant ocean's tow,
Harness'd with gossamer, the loitering prow;
Or with fine films, suspended o'er the deep,
Of oil effusive lull the waves to sleep.
You stay the flying bark, conceal'd beneath,
Where living rocks of worm-built coral breathe;
Meet fell TEREDO, as he mines the keel
With beaked head, and break his lips of steel;
Turn the broad helm, the fluttering canvas urge
From MAELSTROME'S fierce innavigable surge.
-'Mid the lorn isles of Norway's stormy main,
As sweeps o'er many a league his eddying train,
Vast watery walls in rapid circles spin,
And deep-ingulph'd the Demon dwells within;
Springs o'er the fear-froze crew with Harpy-claws,
Down his deep den the whirling vessel draws;
Churns with his bloody mouth the dread repast,
The booming waters murmuring o'er the mast.

III. 'Where with chill frown enormous ALPS alarms
A thousand realms, horizon'd in his arms;
While cloudless suns meridian glories shed
From skies of silver round his hoary head,
Tall rocks of ice refract the coloured rays,
And Frost sits throned amid the lambent blaze;
NYMPHS! YOUR thin forms pervade his glittering piles,
His roofs of chrystal, and his glasy ailes;
Where in cold caves imprisoned Naiads sleep,
Or chain'd on mossy couches wake and weep;
Where round dark crags indignant waters bend
Through rifted ice, in ivory veins descend,
Seek through unfathom'd snows their devious track,
Heave the vast spars, the ribbed granites crack,
Rush into day, in foamy torrents shine,
And swell the imperial Danube or the Rhine.-
Or feed the murmuring TIBER, as he laves
His realms inglorious with diminish'd waves,
Hears his lorn Forum sound with Eunuch-strains,
Sees dancing slaves insult his martial plains;
Parts with chill stream the dim religious bower,
Time-mouldered bastion, and dismantled tower;
By alter'd fanes and nameless villas glides,
And classic domes, that tremble on his sides;
Sighs o'er each broken urn, and yawning tomb,
And mourns the fall of LIBERTY and ROME.

IV. 'Sailing in air, when dark MONSOON inshrouds
His tropic mountains in a night of clouds;
Or drawn by whirlwinds from the Line returns,
And showers o'er Afric all his thousand urns;
High o'er his head the beams of SIRIUS glow,
And, Dog of Nile, ANUBIS barks below.
NYMPHS! YOU from cliff to cliff attendant guide
In headlong cataracts the impetuous tide;
Or lead o'er wastes of Abyssinian sands
The bright expanse to EGYPT'S shower-less lands.
-Her long canals the sacred waters fill,
And edge with silver every peopled hill;
Gigantic SPHINX in circling waves admire;
And MEMNON bending o'er his broken lyre;
O'er furrow'd glebes and green savannas sweep,
And towns and temples laugh amid the deep.

V. 1. 'High in the frozen North where HECCLA glows,
And melts in torrents his coeval snows;
O'er isles and oceans sheds a sanguine light,
Or shoots red stars amid the ebon night;
When, at his base intomb'd, with bellowing sound
Fell GIESAR roar'd, and struggling shook the ground;
Pour'd from red nostrils, with her scalding breath,
A boiling deluge o'er the blasted heath;
And, wide in air, in misty volumes hurl'd
Contagious atoms o'er the alarmed world;
NYMPHS! YOUR bold myriads broke the infernal spell,
And crush'd the Sorceress in her flinty cell.

2. 'Where with soft fires in unextinguish'd urns,
Cauldron'd in rock, innocuous Lava burns;
On the bright lake YOUR gelid hands distil
In pearly mowers the parsimonious rill;
And, as aloft the curling vapours rise
Through the cleft roof, ambitious for the skies,
In vaulted hills condense the tepid steams,
And pour to HEALTH the medicated streams.
-So in green vales amid her mountains bleak
BUXTONIA smiles, the Goddess-Nymyh of Peak;
Deep in warm waves, and pebbly baths she dwells,
And calls HYGEIA to her sainted wells.

'Hither in sportive bands bright DEVON leads
Graces and Loves from Chatsworth's flowery meads.-
Charm'd round the NYMPH, they climb the rifted rocks;
And steep in mountain-mist their golden locks;
On venturous step her sparry caves explore,
And light with radiant eyes her realms of ore;
-Oft by her bubbling founts, and shadowy domes,
In gay undress the fairy legion roams,
Their dripping palms in playful malice fill,
Or taste with ruby lip the sparkling rill;
Croud round her baths, and, bending o'er the side,
Unclasp'd their sandals, and their zones untied,
Dip with gay fear the shuddering foot undress'd,
And quick retract it to the fringed vest;
Or cleave with brandish'd arms the lucid stream,
And sob, their blue eyes twinkling in the steam.
-High o'er the chequer'd vault with transient glow
Bright lustres dart, as dash the waves below;
And Echo's sweet responsive voice prolongs
The dulcet tumult of their silver tongues.-
O'er their flush'd cheeks uncurling tresses flow,
And dew-drops glitter on their necks of snow;
Round each fair Nymph her dropping mantle clings,
And Loves emerging shake their showery wings.

'Here oft her LORD surveys the rude domain,
Fair arts of Greece triumphant in his train;
LO! as he steps, the column'd pile ascends,
The blue roof closes, or the crescent bends;
New woods aspiring clothe their hills with green,
Smooth slope the lawns, the grey rock peeps between;
Relenting Nature gives her hand to Taste,
And Health and Beauty crown the laughing waste.

VI. 'NYMPHS! YOUR bright squadrons watch with chemic eyes
The cold-elastic vapours, as they rise;
With playful force arrest them as they pass,
And to pure AIR betroth the flaming GAS.
Round their translucent forms at once they fling
Their rapturous arms, with silver bosoms cling;
In fleecy clouds their fluttering wings extend,
Or from the skies in lucid showers descend;
Whence rills and rivers owe their secret birth,
And Ocean's hundred arms infold the earth.

'So, robed by Beauty's Queen, with softer charms
SATURNIA woo'd the Thunderer to her arms;
O'er her fair limbs a veil of light she spread,
And bound a starry diadem on her head;
Long braids of pearl her golden tresses grac'd,
And the charm'd CESTUS sparkled round her waist.
-Raised o'er the woof, by Beauty's hand inwrought,
Breathes the soft Sigh, and glows the enamour'd Thought;
Vows on light wings succeed, and quiver'd Wiles,
Assuasive Accents, and seductive Smiles.
-Slow rolls the Cyprian car in purple pride,
And, steer'd by LOVE, ascends admiring Ide;
Climbs the green slopes, the nodding woods pervades,
Burns round the rocks, or gleams amid the shades.
-Glad ZEPHYR leads the train, and waves above
The barbed darts, and blazing torch of Love;
Reverts his smiling face, and pausing flings
Soft showers of roses from aurelian wings.
Delighted Fawns, in wreathes of flowers array'd,
With tiptoe Wood-Boys beat the chequer'd glade;
Alarmed Naiads, rising into air,
Lift o'er their silver urns their leafy hair;
Each to her oak the bashful Dryads shrink,
And azure eyes are seen through every chink.
-LOVE culls a flaming shaft of broadest wing,
And rests the fork upon the quivering string;
Points his arch eye aloft, with fingers strong
Draws to his curled ear the silken thong;
Loud twangs the steel, the golden arrow flies,
Trails a long line of lustre through the skies;
''Tis done!' he shouts, 'the mighty Monarch feels!'
And with loud laughter shakes the silver wheels;
Bends o'er the car, and whirling, as it moves,
His loosen'd bowstring, drives the rising doves.
-Pierced on his throne the slarting Thunderer turns,
Melts with soft sighs, with kindling rapture burns;
Clasps her fair hand, and eyes in fond amaze
The bright Intruder with enamour'd gaze.
'And leaves my Goddess, like a blooming bride,
'The fanes of Argos for the rocks of Ide?
'Her gorgeous palaces, and amaranth bowers,
'For cliff-top'd mountains, and aerial towers?'
He said; and, leading from her ivory seat
The blushing Beauty to his lone retreat,
Curtain'd with night the couch imperial shrouds,
And rests the crimson cushions upon clouds.-
Earth feels the grateful influence from above,
Sighs the soft Air, and Ocean murmurs love;
Etherial Warmth expands his brooding wing,
And in still showers descends the genial Spring.

VII. 'NYMPHS OF AQUATIC TASTE! whose placid smile
Breathes sweet enchantment o'er BRITANNIA'S isle;
Whose sportive touch in showers resplendent flings
Her lucid cataracts, and her bubbling springs;
Through peopled vales the liquid silver guides,
And swells in bright expanse her freighted tides.
YOU with nice ear, in tiptoe trains, pervade
Dim walks of morn or evening's silent shade;
Join the lone Nightingale, her woods among,
And roll your rills symphonious to her song;
Through fount-full dells, and wave-worn valleys move,
And tune their echoing waterfalls to love;
Or catch, attentive to the distant roar,
The pausing murmurs of the dashing shore;
Or, as aloud she pours her liquid strain,
Pursue the NEREID on the twilight main.
-Her playful Sea-horse woos her soft commands,
Turns his quick ears, his webbed claws expands,
His watery way with waving volutes wins,
Or listening librates on unmoving fins.
The Nymph emerging mounts her scaly seat,
Hangs o'er his glossy sides her silver feet,
With snow-white hands her arching veil detains,
Gives to his slimy lips the slacken'd reins,
Lifts to the star of Eve her eye serene,
And chaunts the birth of Beauty's radiant Queen.-
O'er her fair brow her pearly comb unfurls
Her beryl locks, and parts the waving curls,
Each tangled braid with glistening teeth unbinds
And with the floating treasure musks the winds.-
Thrill'd by the dulcet accents, as she sings,
The rippling wave in widening circles rings;
Night's shadowy forms along the margin gleam
With pointed ears, or dance upon the stream;
The Moon transported stays her bright career,
And maddening Stars shoot headlong from the sphere.

VIII. 'NYMPHS! whose fair eyes with vivid lustres glow
For human weal, and melt at human woe;
Late as YOU floated on your silver shells,
Sorrowing and slow by DERWENT'S willowy dells;
Where by tall groves his foamy flood he steers
Through ponderous arches o'er impetuous wears,
By DERBY'S shadowy towers reflective sweeps,
And gothic grandeur chills his dusky deeps;
You pearl'd with Pity's drops his velvet sides,
Sigh'd in his gales, and murmur'd in his tides,
Waved o'er his fringed brink a deeper gloom,
And bow'd his alders o'er MILCENA'S tomb.

'Oft with sweet voice She led her infant-train,
Printing with graceful step his spangled plain,
Explored his twinkling swarms, that swim or fly,
And mark'd his florets with botanic eye.-
'Sweet bud of Spring! how frail thy transient bloom,
'Fine film,' she cried, 'of Nature's fairest loom!
'Soon Beauty fades upon its damask throne!'-
-Unconscious of the worm, that mined her own!-
-Pale are those lips, where soft caresses hung,
Wan the warm cheek, and mute the tender tongue,
Cold rests that feeling heart on Derwent's shore,
And those love-lighted eye-balls roll no more!

-HERE her sad Consort, stealing through the gloom
Of
Hangs in mute anguish o'er the scutcheon'd hearse,
Or graves with trembling style the votive verse.

'Sexton! oh, lay beneath this sacred shrine,
When Time's cold hand shall close my aching eyes,
Oh, gently lay this wearied earth of mine,
Where wrap'd in night my loved MILCENA lies.

'So shall with purer joy my spirit move,
When the last trumpet thrills the caves of Death,
Catch the first whispers of my waking love,
And drink with holy kiss her kindling breath.

'The spotless Fair, with blush ethereal warm,
Shall hail with sweeter smile returning day,
Rise from her marble bed a brighter form,
And win on buoyant step her airy way.

'Shall bend approved, where beckoning hosts invite,
On clouds of silver her adoring knee,
Approach with Seraphim the throne of light,
-And BEAUTY plead with angel-tongue for Me!'

IX. 'YOUR virgin trains on BRINDLEY'S cradle smiled,
And nursed with fairy-love the unletter'd child,
Spread round his pillow all your secret spells,
Pierced all your springs, and open'd all your wells.-
As now on grass, with glossy folds reveal'd,
Glides the bright serpent, now in flowers conceal'd;
Far shine the scales, that gild his sinuous back,
And lucid undulations mark his track;
So with strong arm immortal BRINDLEY leads
His long canals, and parts the velvet meads;
Winding in lucid lines, the watery mass
Mines the firm rock, or loads the deep morass,
With rising locks a thousand hills alarms,
Flings o'er a thousand streams its silver arms,
Feeds the long vale, the nodding woodland laves,
And Plenty, Arts, and Commerce freight the waves.
-NYMPHS! who erewhile round BRINDLEY'S early bier
On show-white bosoms shower'd the incessant tear,
Adorn his tomb!-oh, raise the marble bust,
Proclaim his honours, and protect his dust!
With urns inverted, round the sacred shrine
Their ozier wreaths let weeping Naiads twine;
While on the top MECHANIC GENIUS stands,
Counts the fleet waves, and balances the lands.

X. 'NYMPHS! YOU first taught to pierce the secret caves
Of humid earth, and lift her ponderous waves;
Bade with quick stroke the sliding piston bear
The viewless columns of incumbent air;-
Press'd by the incumbent air the floods below,
Through opening valves in foaming torrents flow,
Foot after foot with lessen'd impulse move,
And rising seek the vacancy above.-
So when the Mother, bending o'er his charms,
Clasps her fair nurseling in delighted arms;
Throws the thin kerchief from her neck of snow,
And half unveils the pearly orbs below;
With sparkling eye the blameless Plunderer owns
Her soft embraces, and endearing tones,
Seeks the salubrious fount with opening lips,
Spreads his inquiring hands, and smiles, and sips.

'CONNUBIAL FAIR! whom no fond transport warms
To lull your infant in maternal arms;
Who, bless'd in vain with tumid bosoms, hear
His tender wailings with unfeeling ear;
The soothing kiss and milky rill deny
To the sweet pouting lip, and glistening eye!-
Ah! what avails the cradle's damask roof,
The eider bolster, and embroider'd woof!-
Oft hears the gilded couch unpity'd plains,
And many a tear the tassel'd cushion stains!
No voice so sweet attunes his cares to rest,
So soft no pillow, as his Mother's breast!-
-Thus charm'd to sweet repose, when twilight hours
Shed their soft influence on celestial bowers,
The Cherub, Innocence, with smile divine
Shuts his white wings, and sleeps on Beauty's shrine.

XI. 'From dome to dome when flames infuriate climb,
Sweep the long street, invest the tower sublime;
Gild the tall vanes amid the astonish'd night,
And reddening heaven returns the sanguine light;
While with vast strides and bristling hair aloof
Pale Danger glides along the falling roof;
And Giant Terror howling in amaze
Moves his dark limbs across the lurid blaze.
NYMPHS! you first taught the gelid wave to rise
Hurl'd in resplendent arches to the skies;
In iron cells condensed the airy spring,
And imp'd the torrent with unfailing wing;
-On the fierce flames the shower impetuous falls,
And sudden darkness shrouds the shatter'd walls;
Steam, smoak, and dust in blended volumes roll,
And Night and Silence repossess the Pole.-

'Where were ye, NYMPHS! in those disasterous hours,
Which wrap'd in flames AUGUSTA'S sinking towers?
Why did ye linger in your wells and groves,
When sad WOODMASON mourn'd her infant loves?
When thy fair Daughters with unheeded screams,
Ill-fated MOLESWORTH! call'd the loitering streams?-
The trembling Nymph on bloodless fingers hung
Eyes from the tottering wall the distant throng,
With ceaseless shrieks her sleeping friends alarms,
Drops with singed hair into her lover's arms.-
The illumin'd Mother seeks with footsteps fleet,
Where hangs the safe balcony o'er the street,
Wrap'd in her sheet her youngest hope suspends,
And panting lowers it to her tiptoe friends;
Again she hurries on affection's wings,
And now a third, and now a fourth, she brings;
Safe all her babes, she smooths her horrent brow,
And bursts through bickering flames, unscorch'd, below.
So, by her Son arraign'd, with feet unshod
O'er burning bars indignant Emma trod.

'E'en on the day when Youth with Beauty wed,
The flames surprized them in their nuptial bed;-
Seen at the opening sash with bosom bare,
With wringing hands, and dark dishevel'd hair,
The blushing Beauty with disorder'd charms
Round her fond lover winds her ivory arms;
Beat, as they clasp, their throbbing hearts with fear,
And many a kiss is mix'd with many a tear;-
Ah me! in vain the labouring engines pour
Round their pale limbs the ineffectual shower!-
-Then crash'd the floor, while shrinking crouds retire,
And Love and Virtue sunk amid the fire!-
With piercing screams afflicted strangers mourn,
And their white ashes mingle in their urn.

XII. 'PELLUCID FORMS! whose crystal bosoms show
The shine of welfare, or the shade of woe;
Who with soft lips salute returning Spring,
And hail the Zephyr quivering on his wing;
Or watch, untired, the wintery clouds, and share
With streaming eyes my vegetable care;
Go, shove the dim mist from the mountain's brow,
Chase the white fog, which floods the vale below;
Melt the thick snows, that linger on the lands,
And catch the hailstones in your little hands;
Guard the coy blossom from the pelting shower,
And dash the rimy spangles from the bower;
From each chill leaf the silvery drops repel,
And close the timorous floret's golden bell.

'So should young SYMPATHY, in female form,
Climb the tall rock, spectatress of the storm;
Life's sinking wrecks with secret sighs deplore,
And bleed for others' woes, Herself on shore;
To friendless Virtue, gasping on the strand,
Bare her warm heart, her virgin arms expand,
Charm with kind looks, with tender accents cheer,
And pour the sweet consolatory tear;
Grief's cureless wounds with lenient balms asswage,
Or prop with firmer staff the steps of Age;
The lifted arm of mute Despair arrest,
And snatch the dagger pointed to his breast;
Or lull to slumber Envy's haggard mien,
And rob her quiver'd shafts with hand unseen.
-Sound, NYMPHS OF HELICON! the trump of Fame,
And teach Hibernian echoes JONES'S name;
Bind round her polish'd brow the civic bay,
And drag the fair Philanthropist to day.-
So from secluded springs, and secret caves,
Her Liffy pours his bright meandering waves,
Cools the parch'd vale, the sultry mead divides,
And towns and temples star his shadowy sides.

XIII. 'CALL YOUR light legions, tread the swampy heath,
Pierce with sharp spades the tremulous peat beneath;
With colters bright the rushy sward bisect,
And in new veins the gushing rills direct;-
So flowers shall rise in purple light array'd,
And blossom'd orchards stretch their silver shade;
Admiring glebes their amber ears unfold,
And Labour sleep amid the waving gold.

'Thus when young HERCULES with firm disdain
Braved the soft smiles of Pleasure's harlot train;
To valiant toils his forceful limbs assign'd,
And gave to Virtue all his mighty mind,
Fierce ACHELOUS rush'd from mountain-caves,
O'er sad Etolia pour'd his wasteful waves,
O'er lowing vales and bleating pastures roll'd,
Swept her red vineyards, and her glebes of gold,
Mined all her towns, uptore her rooted woods,
And Famine danced upon the shining floods.
The youthful Hero seized his curled crest,
And dash'd with lifted club the watery Pest;
With waving arm the billowy tumult quell'd,
And to his course the bellowing Fiend repell'd.

'Then to a Snake the finny Demon turn'd
His lengthen'd form, with scales of silver burn'd;
Lash'd with restless sweep his dragon-train,
And shot meandering o'er the affrighted plain.
The Hero-God, with giant fingers clasp'd
Firm round his neck, the hissing monster grasp'd;
With starting eyes, wide throat, and gaping teeth,
Curl his redundant folds, and writhe in death.

'And now a Bull, amid the flying throng
The grisly Demon foam'd, and roar'd along;
With silver hoofs the flowery meadows spurn'd,
Roll'd his red eye, his threatening antlers turn'd.
Dragg'd down to earth, the Warrior's victor-hands
Press'd his deep dewlap on the imprinted sands;
Then with quick bound his bended knee he fix'd
High on his neck, the branching horns betwixt,
Strain'd his strong arms, his sinewy shoulders bent,
And from his curled brow the twisted terror rent.
-Pleased Fawns and Nymphs with dancing step applaud,
And hang their chaplets round the resting God;
Link their soft hands, and rear with pausing toil
The golden trophy on the furrow'd soil;
Fill with ripe fruits, with wreathed flowers adorn,
And give to PLENTY her prolific horn.

XIV. 'On Spring's fair lap, CERULEAN SISTERS! pour
From airy urns the sun-illumined shower,
Feed with the dulcet drops my tender broods,
Mellifluous flowers, and aromatic buds;
Hang from each bending grass and horrent thorn
The tremulous pearl, that glitters to the morn;
Or where cold dews their secret channels lave,
And Earth's dark chambers hide the stagnant wave,
O, pierce, YE NYMPHS! her marble veins, and lead
Her gushing fountains to the thirsty mead;
Wide o'er the shining vales, and trickling hills
Spread the bright treasure in a thousand rills.
So shall my peopled realms of Leaf and Flower
Exult, inebriate with the genial shower;
Dip their long tresses from the mossy brink,
With tufted roots the glassy currents drink;
Shade your cool mansions from meridian beams,
And view their waving honours in your streams.

'Thus where the veins their confluent branches bend,
And milky eddies with the purple blend;
The Chyle's white trunk, diverging from its source,
Seeks through the vital mass its shining course;
O'er each red cell, and tissued membrane spreads
In living net-work all its branching threads;
Maze within maze its tortuous path pursues,
Winds into glands, inextricable clues;
Steals through the stomach's velvet sides, and sips
The silver surges with a thousand lips;
Fills each fine pore, pervades each slender hair,
And drinks salubrious dew-drops from the air.

'Thus when to kneel in Mecca's awful gloom,
Or press with pious kiss Medina's tomb,
League after league, through many a lingering day,
Steer the swart Caravans their sultry way;
O'er sandy wastes on gasping camels toil,
Or print with pilgrim-steps the burning soil;
If from lone rocks a sparkling rill descend,
O'er the green brink the kneeling nations bend,
Bathe the parch'd lip, and cool the feverish tongue,
And the clear lake reflects the mingled throng.'

The Goddess paused,-the listening bands awhile
Still seem to hear, and dwell upon her smile;
Then with soft murmur sweep in lucid trains
Down the green slopes, and o'er the pebbly plains,
To each bright stream on silver sandals glide,
Reflective fountain, and tumultuous tide.

So shoot the Spider-broods at breezy dawn
Their glittering net-work o'er the autumnal lawn;
From blade to blade connect with cordage fine
The unbending grass, and live along the line;
Or bathe unwet their oily forms, and dwell
With feet repulsive on the dimpling well.

So when the North congeals his watery mass,
Piles high his snows, and floors his seas with glass;
While many a Month, unknown to warmer rays,
Marks its slow chronicle by lunar days;
Stout youths and ruddy damsels, sportive train,
Leave the white soil, and rush upon the main;
From isle to isle the moon-bright squadrons stray,
And win in easy curves their graceful way;
On step alternate borne, with balance nice
Hang o'er the gliding steel, and hiss along the ice. 



Erasmus Darwin's other poems:
  1. Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove, Near Botany Bay
  2. The Botanic Garden Part 2
  3. ПарSteam Power
  4. The Linnet's Nest
  5. The Botanic Garden Part 4


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