By Oliver Goldsmith

© St. John, N.B.: John McMillan, 1834


FOR 1828.

THE grateful task with promptness I obey
That now demands my tributary lay.
Before my Patrons I this time appear,
In strains of welcome to the coming year,
And though Ned’s place I can but ill supply,


Young birds must learn to hop before they fly.
I trust you’ll not my muse presumptuous deem,
If I, like him, relate an humble dream;
Alike engaged in the same honest cause,
I hope to gain some share of your applause.


    Methought I slept, and lo! before my sight,
A form appeared arrayed in robes of light.
Angelic sweetness o’er each feature played,
Her azure eyes soft innocence portrayed, [Page 111]
Her flowing tresses o’er her shoulders thrown,


Just touched the margin of her waist-bound zone;
A faultless form her shining dress displayed,
Faultless and fair as that celestial maid,
Who first unbars the portals of the morn,
And sheds her rosy light on hill and lawn.


As thus entranced with wonder and delight
I gazed in silence on the beauteous sprite.
“Mortal,” she said, in accents mild, “arise,
I come to thee commissioned from the skies;
Thy prayer, this moment at our throne preferred,


To see each kingdom of the world! is heard;
To guide thee safely round this earthly sphere,
And trace each action of the varied year,
To me belongs:—arise, come haste away,
Thy hopes may vanish with the least delay.”


    Thus having spoke she gently waved her hand,
And forth arose at her supreme command,
A splendid car, of rosy shell-work made,
With jasper stones and amethysts inlaid; [Page 112]
Its embossed axle formed of massive gold,


On starry wheels of dazzling brightness rolled;
In silken harness gorgeously arrayed,
Two milk-white steeds their polished limbs displayed,
While reins of hair, from angels’ locks obtained,
Their course by turns directed or restrained,


“Mortal,” again the lovely seraph cried,
“Ascend and sit in safety by my side,
And since the faith and strength of those on high
To mortal minds our heavenly laws deny,
This braided wreath, formed of a seraph’s hair,


Whose dying breath entrusted to my care,
With gentle pressure must thy temples bind,
Its magic touch will guard thee, and, confined,
Let not a thought or wish thy lips betray,
My power acknowledge, and my voice obey,


Or, like Sol’s son by Jove’s resentment hurled,
Down thou wilt sink insensate to the world. [Page 113]
Now, speed my coursers, speed and haste away,
Where eastern suns awake the glorious day.”
She ceased: and then majestically slow,


We rose and left the shining world below,
The distant hills receded from my view,
And blended softly with the etherial blue;
But soon, by ardent strength and vigour fired,
Or by the lovely spirit’s power inspired,


The fiery coursers with impetuous flight,
Rushed onward to the rosy gates of light;
Swifter than Simoom’s blast we seemed to fly,
And drive like lightning through the liquid sky;
A lambent flame the wheels behind us drew,


That shone like sunbeams on the morning dew;
Through all my veins I felt a thrilling glow
Of rapture and ecstatic pleasure flow,
O’er every sense a soft enchantment stole,
And calmed the rising tumults of my soul.


    Again the seraph spoke: “Now turn thine eye,
Behold, as gently down we sweep the sky, [Page114]
THE KINGDOMS OF THE EARTH in order ranged,
From Time’s first moment circling and unchanged.
See on the left, where Britain’s sea-girt Isles,


In freedom nursed, and blessed with fortune’s smiles,
Their rank and power supremely great maintain,
The queen of arts and mistress of the main.
Though Canning’s fate, by death’s relentless hand,
Drew tears of sorrow from the mournful land,


While Peel, or such as he, each action guides,
And o’er her courts a patriot King presides,
On sure foundations rest her wealth and fame,
Her deathless glory and immortal name.
Far on the right, behold Iberia’s race,


In ignorance sunk, and fettered by disgrace.
Unworthy sons of proud and gallant sires,
No spirit warms them, and no glory fires;
Beneath a despot, servile and depraved,
They live dishonored, and expire enslaved. [Page 115]


Here lovely France in joy and plenty reigns,
Health in her clime, and mirth in all her plains;
And there Italia spreads her bloomy bowers,
The land of sunshine and perennial flowers.
Where yon broad walls old ocean’s breast oppose


The amphibious race of Hollanders repose;
And far beyond the powerful realms extend,
That Austria, Prussia, and the Russe defend.
Behold fair Greece, whose seats of classic lore,
Of gods and sacred temples are no more.


Still hordes of foes possess her fertile field,
Her children still to tyrants basely yield;
In vain her son his sword of vengeance draws,
His heart’s pure blood flows vainly in her cause,
While base-born treachery lurks on every hand,


And leaders sell for gold their native land.
Oh, no! the hearts that would their freedom gain,
In truth and honor must their rights maintain,
Disgrace can claim no refuge from the brave,
Nor cowards fill a Grecian Patriot’s grave. [Page 116]


Thus having traced the realms of eastern skies,
Mortal, we’ll turn where other worlds arise.
Speed, speed, my coursers, speed and haste away,
Where slumbering sinks to rest the lord of day.”
Again the steeds, by matchless science driven,


Impetuous rushed adown the vault of heaven.
Beneath the car the broad Pacific rolled,
One bright, vast, undulating sea ofgold.
And soon afar like distant clouds arose
The Andes, mountains of eternal snows!


Till slowly sinking near the earth we drew,
Where Darien’s Isthmus lay exposed to view.
    “See where extending to the southern pole,
Around whose base terrific oceans roll,
In giant greatness stretch those fertile lands,


Whose nobler sons disdain their fathers’ bands.
The cringing slaves of tyrant Kings no more;
The shouts of freedom now from shore to shore
Resound; the valiant, free, and brave,
No force can conquer, and no power enslave. [Page 117]


Far to the left Columbia’s States survey,
The powerful empire of some future day.
In childhood’s hour upon a mother’s breast,
They safely leaned, caressing and caressed.
But children oft desert a parent’s cause,


Contemn her counsels and despise her laws,
And thus with them; in manhood’s ripened hour,
They flew to arms, and then disowned her power.
Yet time, a sure criterion must decide,
Who best a nation’s destinies can guide,


The son who owns a proud republic’s sway,
Or children that a sovereign’s laws obey.
Still further on to earth’s remotest ends
Whose unknown coast eternal ice defends,
The Indian’s home, and refuge of the deer,


The trackless fields of Canada appear.
But mark the fruitful realms that intervene,
And like a garden variegate the scene;
Thy own dear native land ACADIA’S PLAIN,
That winds its devious course along the main. [Page 118]


Free commerce there her flowing sail expands,
And bears her freighted ships to different lands;
With bounteous hand there nature crowns the field,
And autumn’s fruit a rich abundance yield;
No scanty pittance wrung from barren soil,


But plenteous gifts repay the laborer’s toil,
While all the land luxuriant, rich, and gay,
Hope, freedom, peace, and happiness display.
There arts will rise, and each returning spring
Will bear increasing splendour on its wing;


Then round the land as beams of science play,
And all its secret wealth expose to day,
Without prophetic aid I may proclaim
Its future greatness and unrivalled name!
Mortal, farewell! my pleasing task is done,


And I return to meet the setting sun,
Yet ere I go, a seraph’s gift divine,
My braided wreath of hair, you must resign—”
“Seraph, my thanks!” she vanished from my view,
“I woke, and thus my dream reveal to you!” [Page 119]