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[Ed. Note: This verse letter is dated March 9, 1709, and was written while Philips was secretary to the British Envoy to Denmark; it describes the landscape outside Copenhagen on a morning following a freezing rain storm. The concluding lines, beginning "Like some deluded peasant," were added later. --Nelson]
- FROM frozen climes, and endless tracts of snow,
- From streams which northern winds forbid to flow,
- What present shall the Muse to Dorset bring,
- Or how, so near the Pole, attempt to sing?
- The hoary winter here conceals from sight
- All pleasing objects which to verse invite.
- The hills and dales, and the delightful woods,
- The flow'ry plains, and silver-streaming floods,
- By snow disguis'd, in bright confusion lie,
- And with one dazzling waste fatigue the eye.
- No gentle breathing breeze prepares the spring,
- No birds within the desert region sing.
- The ships, unmov'd, the boist'rous winds defy,
- While rattling chariots o'er the ocean fly.
- The vast Leviathan wants room to play,
- And spouts his waters in the face of day.
- The starving wolves along the main sea prowl,
- And to the moon in icy valleys howl.
- O'er many a shining league the level main
- Here spreads itself into a glassy plain:
- There solid billows of enormous size,
- Alps of green ice, in wild disorder rise.
- And yet but lately have I seen, ev'n here,
- The winter in a lovely dress appear.
- 'Ere yet the clouds let fall the treasur'd snow,
- Or winds begun through hazy skies to blow,
- At ev'ning a keen eastern breeze arose,
- And the descending rain unsully'd froze.
- Soon as the silent shades of night withdrew,
- The ruddy morn disclos'd at once to view
- The face of nature in a rich disguise,
- And brighten'd ev'ry object to my eyes:
- For ev'ry shrub, and ev'ry blade of grass,
- And ev'ry pointed thorn, seem'd wrought in glass;
- In pearls and rubies rich the hawthorns show,
- While through the ice the crimson berries glow.
- The thick-sprung reeds, which wat'ry marshes yield,
- Seem'd polish'd lances in a hostile field.
- The stag in limpid currents, with surprise,
- Sees crystal branches on his forehead rise;
- The spreading oak, the beech, and tow'ring pine,
- Glaz'd over, in the freezing aether shine.
- The frighted birds the rattling branches shun,
- Which wave and glitter in the distant sun.
- When if a sudden gust of wind arise,
- The brittle forest into atoms flies,
- The crackling wood beneath the tempest bends,
- And in a spangled show'r the prospect ends:
- Or, if a southern gale the region warm,
- And by degrees unbind the wintry charm,
- The traveller a miry country sees,
- And journeys sad beneath the dropping trees:
- Like some deluded peasant Merlin leads
- Through fragrant bow'rs, and through delicious meads,
- While here enchanted gardens to him rise,
- And airy fabrics* there attract his
- His wand'ring feet the magic paths pursue,
- And while he thinks the fair illusion true,
- The trackless scenes disperse in fluid air,
- And woods, and wilds, and thorny ways appear,
- A tedious road the weary wretch returns,
- And, as he goes, the transient vision mourns.
- Ambrose Philips
- TIMELY blossom, infant fair,
- Fondling of a happy pair,
- Every morn and every night
- Their solicitous delight;
- Sleeping, waking, still at ease,
- Pleasing, without skill to please,
- Little gossip, blithe and hale,
- Tattling many a broken tale,
- Singing many a tuneless song,
- Lavish of a heedless tongue,
- Simple maiden, void of art,
- Babbling out the very heart,
- Yet abandon'd to thy will,
- Yet imagining no ill,
- Yet too innocent to blush;
- Like the linlet in the bush,
- To the mother-linnet's note
- Moduling* her slender
- Chirping forth thy pretty joys;
- Wanton in the change of toys,
- Like the linnet green, in May,
- Flitting to each bloomy spray;
- Weari'd then, and glad of rest,
- Like the linlet in the nest.
- This thy present happy lot,
- This, in time, will be forgot;
- Other pleasures, other cares,
- Ever-busy Time prepares;
- And thou shalt in thy daughter see
- This picture once resembled thee.
- Ambrose Philips
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