1783 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Erasmus Darwin

Anna Seward, "Verses written in Dr. Darwin's Botanical Garden near Litchfield" Gentleman's Magazine 53 (May 1783) 428.



"Oh come not here, ye proud, whose breasts infold
Th' insatiate thirst of glory, or of gold!
For you no Dryad decks her fragrant bowers;
For you her sparkling urn no Naiad pours:
Unmark'd by you, light Graces skim the green,
And hovering Cupids spread their wings unseen.
Thou! o'er whose mind the well-attemper'd ray
Of Taste and Virtue sheds a purer day;
Whose finer sense each soft vibration owns,
Mute and unfeeling to discordant tones;
Like the fair flower that spreads its lurid form
To meet the sun, and shuts it to the storm;
For thee my borders nurse the glowing wreath
My fountains murmur, and my zephyrs breath;
To charm the eye, amid the chrystal tide,
With sinuous track my silver nations glide;
My choral birds their vivid plumes unfold,
And insect-armies wave their wings of gold.
And if with thee some hapless maid should stray,
Disastrous Love companion of her way,
Oh lead her timid step to yonder glade,
Whose arching rock incumbent alders shade!
There, as meek Evening wakes her temperate breeze,
And moon beams glimmer through the trembling trees
The rills that gurgle round shall soothe her ear,
The weeping well shall number tear for tear.
And, as sad Philomel, alike forlorn,
Sings to the night, reclining on a thorn,
While at sweet intervals each falling note
Sighs in the gale, and whispers through the grot,
The sister-woe shall calm her aching breast,
And softest numbers steal her cares to rest."

Thus spoke the Genius, as he stepp'd along,
And bade these lawns to Peace and Truth belong:
Down the steep slopes he led, with modest skill,
The willing pathway, and the vagrant rill;
Stretch'd o'er the marshy vale yon willowy mound,
And bade the wave reflect the cultur'd ground;
Rear'd the young woodlands, smooth'd the wavy green,
And gave to beauty all the quiet scene.

Winds of the North! restrain your icy gales,
Nor chill the bosom of these hallowed vales!
Thou, gentle Botany! assume thy reign,
And fill with beauteous families the plain!
From giant oaks, that wave their branches dark,
To the dwarf moss that clings upon their bark.
Thy beaux and belles shall crowd the gaudy groves,
And woo and win their vegetable loves;
With fairest fruits the sweetest foliage twine,
And deck with lavish pomp Hygeia's shrine.