Thursday, April 19, 2007

creatures of the sun

Here is another poem from Parnassus, the anthology compiled by Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1874 (pdf).
Nature. How young and fresh am I tonight,
To see't kept day by so much light,
And twelve my sons stand in their maker's sight!
Help, wise Prometheus, something must be done
To show they are the creatures of the sun,
That each to other
Is a brother,
And Nature here no stepdame, but a mother
Chorus. Come forth, come forth, Prove all the numbers then
That make perfection up, and may absolve you men.
[Nature.] But show thy winding ways and arts,
Thy risings and thy timely starts
Of stealing fire from ladies' eyes and hearts.
Those softer circles are the young man's heaven,
And there more orbs and planets are than seven,
To know whose motion
Were a notion
As worthy of youth's study as devotion.
Chorus. Come forth, come forth, prove all the time will gain,
For Nature bids the best, and never bade in vain.
This comes from a masque, Mercury Vindicated from the Alchemists at Court. Jonson's stage direction says the poem is sung in "a glorious bower wherein Nature was placed with Prometheus at her feet, and the twelve masquers standing about them." The Wikipedia entry on it says the masque was a success with the king and may have helped to forward the ambitions of a court favorite whom Jonson wished to see promoted.

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