A1r

Elegy
on
Captain Cook.

To which is added,
An Ode to the Sun.

By Miss Seward. omitted1 letter

London:
Printed for J. Dodsley, in Pall-Mall.
1780M.DCC.LXXX.
Price 1s. 6d.

1 pageflawed-reproduction
A2r

An Elegy
on Captain Cook

Sorrowing, the Nine beneath yon blasted yew

Shed the bright drops of Pity’s holy dew;

Mute are their tuneful tongues, extinct their fires;

Yet not in silence sleep their silver lyres;

To the bleak gale they vibrate sad and slow,

In deep accordance to a Nation’s woe.

Ye, who ere while for Cook’s illustrious brow

Pluck’d the green laurel, and the oaken bough,

Hung the gay garlands on the trophied oars,

And pour’d his fame along a thousand shores,

Strike the slow death-bell!—weave the sacred verse,

And strew the cypress o’er his honor’d hearse;

In sad procession wander round the shrine,

And weep him mortal, whom ye sung divine!

A2 Say A2v 4

Say first, what Pow’r inspir’d his dauntless breast

With scorn of danger, and inglorious rest,

To quit imperial London’s gorgeous plains,

Where, rob’d in thousand tints, bright Pleasure reigns;

In cups of summer-ice her nectar pours,

And twines, ’mid wint’ry snows, her roseate bow’rs?

Where Beauty moves with undulating grace,

Calls the sweet blush to wanton o’er her face,

On each fond Youth her soft artillery tries,

Aims her light smile, and rolls her frolic eyes?

What Pow’r inspir’d his dauntless breast to brave

The scorch’d Equator, and th’ Antarctic wave?

Climes, where fierce suns in cloudless ardors shine,

And pour the dazzling deluge round the Line;

The realms of frost, where icy mountains rise,

’Mid the pale summer of the polar skies?—

It was Humanity!—on coasts unknown,

The shiv’ring natives of the frozen zone,

And the swart Indian, as he faintly strays

“Where Cancer reddens in the solar blaze,”

3 She A3r 5

She bade him seek;—on each inclement shore

Plant the rich seeds of her exhaustless store;

Unite the savage hearts, and hostile hands,

In the firm compact of her gentle bands;

Strew her soft comforts o’er the barren plain,

Sing her sweet lays, and consecrate her fane.

It was Humanity!—O Nymph divine!

I see thy light step print the burning Line!

There thy bright eye the dubious pilot guides,

The faint oar struggling with the scalding tides.—

On as thou lead’st the bold, the glorious prow,

Mild, and more mild, the sloping sun-beams glow;

Now weak and pale the lessen’d lustres play,

As round th’ horizon rolls the timid day;

Barb’d with the sleeted snow, the driving hail,

Rush the fierce arrows of the polar gale;

And thro’ the dim, unvaried, ling’ring hours,

Wide o’er the waves incumbent horror low’rs.

From A3v 6

From the rude summit of yon frozen steep,

Contrasting Glory gilds the dreary deep!

Lo!---deck’d with vermeil youth and beamy grace,

Hope in her step, and gladness in her face,

Light on the icy rock, with outstrech’d hands,

The Goddess of the new Columbus stands.

Round her bright head the plumy Peterels soar, “Peterels soar.”— The peterel is a bird found in the frozen seas; its neck
and tail are white, and its wings of a bright blue.

Blue as her robe, that sweeps the frozen shore;

Glows her soft cheek, as vernal mornings fair,

And warm as summer-suns her golden hair;

O’er the hoar waste her radiant glances stream,

And courage kindles in their magic beam.

She points the ship it’s mazy path, to thread

The floating fragments “The floating fragments.”— “In the course of the last twenty-four hours,
we passed through several fields of broken ice; they were in general narrow,
but of considerable extent. In one part the pieces of ice were so close, that
the ship had much difficulty to thread them.”
of the frozen bed.

While A4r 7

While o’er the deep, in many a dreadful form,

The giant Danger howls along the storm,

Furling the iron sails “Furling the iron sails.”— “Our sails and rigging were so frozen, that
they seemed plates of iron.”
with numbed hands,

Firm on the deck the great Adventurer stands;

Round glitt’ring mountains hears the billows rave,

And the vast ruin “And the vast ruin.”— The breaking of one of these immense mountains of
ice, and the prodigious noise it made, is particularly described in Cook’s
second voyage to the south Pole.
thunder on the wave.—

Appall’d he hears!—but checks the rising sigh,

And turns on his firm band a glist’ning eye.—

Not for himself the sighs unbidden break,

Amid the terrors of the icy wreck;

Not for himself starts the impassion’d tear,

Congealing as it falls;—nor pain, nor fear,

Nor Death’s dread darts, impede the great design,

Till Nature “Till Nature, &c.”— “After running four leagues this course, with the
ice on our starboard side, we found ourselves quite embay’d, the ice extending
from north-north-east, round by the west and south, to east, in one
compact body; the weather was tolerably clear, yet we could see no end to it.”
draws the circumscribing line.

Huge A4v 8

Huge rocks of ice th’ arrested ship embay,

And bar the gallant Wanderer’s dangerous way.—

His eye regretful marks the Goddess turn

Th’ assiduous prow from its relentless bourn.

And now antarctic Zealand’s drear domain

Frowns, and o’erhangs th’ inhospitable main.

On it’s chill beach this dove of human-kind

For his long-wand’ring foot short rest shall find,

Bear to the coast the olive-branch “The olive-branch.”— “To carry a green branch in the hand on landing,
is a pacific signal, universally understood by all the islanders in the South
Seas.”
in vain,

And quit on wearied wing the hostile plain.—

With jealous low’r the frowning natives view

The stately vessel, and th’advent’rous crew;

Nor fear the brave, nor emulate the good,

But scowl with savage thirst of human blood!

And yet there were, who in this iron clime

Soar’d o’er the herd on Virtue’s wing sublime;

Rever’d B1r 9

Rever’d the stranger-guest, and smiling strove

To sooth his stay with hospitable love;

Fann’d in full confidence the friendly flame,

Join’d plighted hands, and name exchang’d “And name exchang’d.”— The exchange of names is a pledge of amity
among these islanders, and was frequently proposed by them to Captain
Cook
and his people; so also is the joining noses.
for name.

To these the Hero leads his living store, “His living store.”— Captain Cook left various kinds of animals upon this
coast, together with garden-feeds, &c. The Zealanders had hitherto subsisted
upon fish, and such coarse vegetables as their climate produced; and this
want of better provision, it is supposed, induced them to the horrid practice
of eating human flesh.

And pours new wonders on th’ unculture’d shore;

The silky fleece, fair fruit, and golden grain;

And future herds and harvests bless the plain.

O’er the green soil his Kids exulting play,

And sounds his clarion loud the Bird of day;

The downy Goose her ruffled bosom laves,

Trims her white wing, and wantons in the waves;

Stern moves the Bull along th’ affrighted shores,

And countless nations tremble as he roars.

B So B1v 10

So when the Daughter of eternal Jove,

And Ocean’s God, to bless their Athens strove,

The massy trident with gigantic force

Cleaves the firm earth—and gives the stately Horse;

He paws the ground, impatient of the rein,

Shakes his high front, and thunders o’er the plain.

Then Wisdom’s Goddess plants the embryon seed,

And bids new foliage shade the sultry mead;

’Mid the pale green the tawny olives shine,

And famish’d thousands bless the hand divine.

Now the warm solstice o’er the shining bay,

Darts from the north its mild meridian ray;

Again the Chief invokes the rising gale,

And spreads again in desart seas the sail;

O’er dangerous shoals his steady steerage keeps,

O’er walls of coral, “Walls of coral.”— The coral rocks are described as rising perpendicularly
from the greatest depths of the ocean, insomuch that the sounding-line could
not reach their bottom; an yet they were but just covered with water.—
These rocks are now found to be fabricated by sea-insects.
ambush’d in the deeps;

Strong B2r 11

Strong Labour’s hands the cracking cordage twine,

And sleepless Patience “And sleepless Patience.”— “We had now passed several months with a man
constantly in the chains heaving the lead.”
heaves the sounding-line.

On a lone beach a rock-built temple “A rock-built temple.”— “On one part of this isle there was a solitary rock,
rising on the coast with arched cavities, like a majestic temple.”
stands,

Stupendous pile! unwrought by mortal hands;

Sublime the ponderous turrets rise in air,

And the wide roof basaltic columns bear;

Thro’ the long aisles the murm’ring tempests blow,

And Ocean chides his dashing waves below.

From this fair fane, along the silver sands,

Two sister-virgins wave their snowy hands;

First gentle Flora “First gentle Flora.”— Flora is the Goddess of modern Botany, and Fauna
of modern Zoology: hence the pupils of Linnæus call their books Flora Anglica
Fauna Danica, &c.—“The Flora of one of these islands contain’d
thirty new plants.”
round her smiling brow

Leaves of new forms, and flow’rs uncultur’d glow;

B2 Thin B2v 12

Thin folds of vegetable silk, “Vegetable silk.”— In New Zealand is a flag of which the natives make
their nets and cordage. The fibres of this vegetable are longer and stronger
than our hemp and flax; and some, manufactured in London, is as white and
glossy as fine silk. This valuable vegetable will probably grow in our climate.
behind,

Shade her white neck, and wanton in the wind;

Strange sweets, where’er she turns, perfume the glades,

And fruits unnam’d adorn the bending shades.

—Next Fauna treads, in youthful beauty’s pride,

A playful Kangroo “A playful Kangroo.”— The kangroo is an animal peculiar to those climates.
It is perpetually jumping along on its hind legs, its fore legs being
too short to be used in the manner of other quadrupeds.
bounding by her side;

Around the Nymph her beauteous Pois “Beauteous Pois.”— “The poi-bird, common in those countries, has feathers
of a fine mazarine blue, except those of the neck, which are of a beautiful
silver grey; and two or three short white ones, which are in the pinion-
joint of the wing. Under its throat hang two little tufts of curled white feathers,
called its poies, which, being the Otaheitean word for ear-rings, occasioned
our giving that name to the bird; which is not more remarkable for
the beauty of its plumage, than for the exquisite melody of its note.”
display

Their varied plumes, and trill the dulcet lay;

A Giant-bat, “A Giant-bat.”— The bats which Captain Cook saw in some of these countries
were of incredible dimensions, measuring three feet and an half in
breadth, when their wings were extended.
with leathern wings outspread,

Umbrella light, hangs quiv’ring o’er her head.

As B3r 13

As o’er the cliff her graceful step she bends,

On glitt’ring wing her insect-train attends.

With diamond-eye her scaly tribes survey

Their Goddess-nymph, and gambol in the spray.

With earnest gaze the still, enamour’d crew

Mark the fair forms; and, as they pass, pursue;

But round the steepy rocks, and dangerous strand,

Rolls the white surf, “Rolls the white surf.”— “As we passed this island, many of its trees
had an unusual appearance, and the richness of the vegetation much invited
our naturalists to land, but their earnest wishes were in vain, from the dangerous
reefs and the violence of the surfs.”
and shipwreck guards the land.

So, when of old, Sicilian shores along,

Enchanting Syrens trill’d th’ alluring song,

Bound to the mast the charm’d Ulysses hears,

And drinks the sweet tones with insatiate ears;

Strains the strong cords, upbraids the prosp’rous gale,

And sighs, as Wisdom spreads the flying sail.

Now B3v 14

Now leads Humanity the destin’d way,

Where all the Loves in Otaheite stray.

To bid the Arts disclose their wond’rous pow’rs,

To bid the Virtues consecrate the bow’rs,

She gives her Hero to its blooming plain.—

Nor has he wander’d, has he bled in vain!

His lips persuasive charm th’ uncultur’d youth,

Teach Wisdom’s lore, and point the path of Truth.

See! chasten’d love “Chasten’d love.”— Captain Cook observes, in his second voyage, that the
women of Otaheite were grown more modest, and that the barbarous practice
of destroying their children was lessened.
in softer glances flows,

See! with new fires parental duty glows.

Thou smiling Eden of the southern wave,

Could not, alas! thy grateful wishes save

That angel-goodness, which had bless’d thy plain?—

Ah! vain thy gratitude, thy wishes vain!

On a far distant, and remorseless shore,

Where human fiends their dire libations pour;

Where treachery, hov’ring o’er the blasted heath,

Poises with ghastly smile the darts of death,

Pierc’d B4r 15

Pierc’d by their venom’d points, your favorite bleeds,

And on his limbs the lust of hunger feeds!

Thus when, of old, the Muse-born Orpheus bore

Fair Arts and Virtues to the Thracian shore;

Struck with sweet energy the warbling wire,

And pour’d persuasion from th’ immortal lyre;

As soften’d brutes, the waving woods among,

Bow’d their meek heads, and listen’d to the song;

Near, and more near, with rage and tumult loud,

Round the bold bard th’ inebriate maniacs crowd.—

Red on th’ ungrateful soil his life-blood swims,

And Fiends and Furies tear his quiv’ring limbs!

Gay Eden of the south, thy tribute pay,

And raise, in pomp of woe, thy Cook’s Morai! “Morai.”— The Morai is a kind of funeral altar, which the people of
Otaheite raise to the memory of their deceased friends. They bring to it a
daily tribute of fruits, flowers, and the plumage of birds. The chief mourner
wanders around it in a state of apparent distraction, shrieking furiously, and
striking at intervals a shark’s tooth into her head. All people fly her, as
she aims at wounding not only herself, but others.

5 Bid B4v 16

Bid mild Omiah bring his choicest stores,

The juicy fruits, and the luxuriant flow’rs;

Bring the bright plumes, that drink the torrid ray,

And strew each lavish spoil on Cook’s Morai!

Come, Oberea, hapless fair-one! come,

With piercing shrieks bewail thy Hero’s doom!—

She comes!—she gazes round with dire survey!—

Oh! fly the mourner on her frantic way.

See! see! the pointed ivory wounds that head,

Where late the Loves impurpled roses spread;

Now stain’d with gore, her raven-tresses flow,

In ruthless negligence of mad’ning woe;

Loud she laments!—and long the Nymph shall stray

With wild unequal step round Cook’s Morai!

But ah!—aloft on Albion’s rocky steep,

That frowns incumbent o’er the boiling deep,

Solicitous, and sad, a softer form

Eyes the lone flood, and deprecates the storm.—

Ill-fated C1r 17

Ill-fated matron!---for, alas! in vain

Thy eager glances wander o’er the main!---

’Tis the vex’d billows, that insurgent rave,

Their white foam silvers yonder distant wave,

’Tis not his sails!---thy husband comes no more!

His bones now whiten an accursed shore!---

Retire,---for hark! the sea-gull shrieking soars,

The lurid atmosphere portentous low’rs;

Night’s sullen spirit groans in ev’ry gale,

And o’er the waters draws the darkling veil,

Sighs in thy hair, and chills thy throbbing breast---

Go, wretched mourner!---weep thy griefs to rest!

Yet, tho’ through life is lost each fond delight,

Tho’ set thy earthly sun in dreary night,

Oh! raise thy thoughts to yonder starry plain,

And own thy sorrow selfish, weak, and vain;

Since, while Britannia, to his virtues just,

Twines the bright wreath, and rears th’ immortal bust;

C While C1v 18

While on each wind of heav’n his fame shall rise,

In endless incense to the smiling skies;

The Attendant Power, that bade his sails expand,

And waft her blessings to each barren land,

Now raptur’d bears him to th’ immortal plains,

Where Mercy hails him with congenial strains;

Where soars, on Joy’s white plume, his spirit free,

And angels choir him, while he waits for Thee.

Ode C2r 19

Ode to the Sun

Prize Poem at Batheaston, 1779-04April 1779.

I.

Lord of the Planets! in their course

Thro’ the long tracts of never-ceasing day,

Who to their orbs, with matchless force,

Bendest their rapid, wild, reluctant way;

Tho’ midst the vast and glitt’ring maze

Of countless worlds, that round thee blaze,

Small, dim, and cold, our little Earth appears,

Thy life-enkindling light she shares:

From the chill Pole’s far-shining mountains frore,

To sandy Afric’s sultry shore,

Wide o’er her plains thy living lustres stream,

In Lapland’s long pale day, and swart Numidia’s beam.

C2 II. For C2v 20

II.

For her, with delegated right,

Thy virgin-sister in thy absence shines,

Throws her soft robe of snowy light

O’er sullen Night’s opake and shadowy shrines;

Thy watchful centinel, she reigns

Controuler of the watry plains,

Onward her silver arm the Ocean guides,

Or dashes back the impetuous tides.

But thou, on the green wave’s capacious bed,

Hast light, and life, and gladness shed,

Thro’ liquid mountains, as they roll,

Darting the beauteous beam, the vivifying soul,

III.

That paints the shell’s meand’ring mould,

Or spots the twinkling fin with gold;

That gives the diamond’s eye to blaze

With all thy bright and arrowy rays.---

Low in the billowy hold,

Where C3r 21

Where the mighty whales are straying,

And the burnish’d dolphins playing,

There, with tremulous light, thou charmest

Nations basking in thy gleam;

And e’en there thy earth thou warmest

With thy mild prolific beam:

From the dwarf coral, with his vermeil horns,

Or sea-moss, matted round her briny caves,

To the broad oak, that Albion’s cliff adorns,

And bears her sons triumphant o’er the waves;

Each stem, root, leaf, fair fruit, and flowret bright,

Lustre and fragrance drink from thy all-chearing light.

IV.

Remov’d from its more ardent ray,

In grassy Albion’s deep umbrageous vales,

Thou bid’st them bloom in soft array,

And breathe sweet incense on her vernal gales.

Thy red Morn blushes on her shores,

And liquid gems profusely pours;

Thy C3v 22

Thy gay Noon glows with unoppressive beams,

And glitters on her winding streams;

Thy modest Evening draws the deep’ning shades

O’er her green hills, and bowery glades,

Till the fair Months, with faded charms,

Shrink in the chilly grasp of Winter’s icy arms.

V.

But this highly-favoured year,

From thee with gifts peculiar sprung;

At thy command Autumna fair

Her golden vest o’er shiv’ring Winter flung;

And bid him his pale ling’ring hours

Gaily deck with fragrant flow’rs;

For his hoar brow matur’d the Violet wreath,

From his wan lip bid Pleasure breathe;

No more he blasts the plain, or warps the tide,

But throws his iron rod aside,

His soften’d gale serenely blows,

Till with Italia’s charms hybernal Albion glows.

9 VI. Great C4r 23

VI.

Great Sun! like thee, with effluence bright,

Rich source of intellectual light,

Benign Humanity appears,

From Sorrow shielding, and from Cares,

And Poverty’s sad blight.

Genius hails thee, Pow’r propitious!

Ripening in thy smile auspicious;

Light divine! thy bounty streaming

Consecrates It must be remembered, that this is a charitable as well as a poetic institution.
this destin’d ground,

On the vase thy lustre beaming,

“Inspiration breathes around.”

The nobler pleasures of the moral world

From this internal radiance gently flow,

As when, oh Sun! thy summer-beams are hurl’d,

And Air, Earth, Ocean, all exulting glow.—

Great Sun! with plenty ever bless these plains,

Where Genius strikes the Lyre, and soft-eyed Mercy
reigns!

Finis.