1786 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Helen Maria Williams

W. Upton, "To Miss Helen Maria Williams, Authoress of Peru, a Poem" Public Advertiser (24 March 1786).



Peru's rich mines by captive slaves explor'd,
Where Plutus reigns supreme, by all ador'd,
'Tis not his treasures, Williams' pen impart,
Her subject's nature, glowing from the heart;
To her the Muse, the daring task consign,
Expanded thought, gave energy divine,
Unfolded nature's secrets to her view,
And form'd the line her conduct should pursue;
And well the maid's perform'd the mighty task,
The deed was great — no more the Muse could ask.
Peru unbosoms, all the Nine foretold
Where nature forms the universal mould,
Whose true impressions, proves superior skill,
Subdues the heart, and conquers e'en the will.
So sweet Maria pleads a parent's cause,
That echo vibrates back its Muse, applause;
So lively paints the lovers ardent flame,
That doubts will rise, but Williams feels the same,
Each scene she tints, such beaming truth displays,
That envy's self unwilling gives her praise.
In vain to trace o'er Peru's vast domain,
Her boundless fancy boundless praises claim.
Peruvia's woes, when time shall bear no date,
Will stand recorded in the page of fate;
And while Zamor's and Aciloe's fates are read,
Shall Helen's fame be rescu'd from the dead.
Strand, March 17.