Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE GEOGRAPHER'S GLORY; OR, THE GLOBE IN 1730, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN



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THE GEOGRAPHER'S GLORY; OR, THE GLOBE IN 1730, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When through the windows buzzed the way-lost bee
Last Line: Those fruitful wonders of the natural world.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): Geography; Past


WHEN through the windows buzzed the way-lost bee
Into a drowsy room that held no honey,
Whose solemn clock surveyed the merry swarm
Of boys intent on chapbook and fools' tricks,
At length the old Geographer resumed
His desk; when several close observers noted
Signs that his late reappearance might be due
To a well-met friend, and the cheerful bottle to give him.
Meanwhile the master, laying down his hat,
His gold-laced hat, and tossing his wig's three tails,
Poising a quill, and letting it fall to the floor,
Replacing his hat, caressing a small Globe,
Saddling his nose, descanted thus:
"Boys, boys,
I must desire you'll ever pay respect
To our most ripe, most profitable theme,
The Globe, and grammar of Geography.
It is mine, exceeding rich Peru,
And, though some owlish critics dub it dry,
Exceeds for banquet-like variety
The City feast. Observe this Globe. My lads,
The vast terraqueous ball whereon we dwell,
And here with newest nicety represented,
Is full of wonders, which our countrymen
And others of congenial quality
Have with much circumstance of truth reported.
-- Away, ye flies; back to Beelzebub. --
I, yes, as I was saying, this grand Globe
Is full of wonders. While the pallid herd
Of Graecians limit their pedantic gaze
To some prodigious nominativus pendens,
Or harry some Athenian cobbler's ghost,
Let us imbibe -- I say, let us imbibe
Full draughts from our true Arethusan fountains.
As I, this very moment, sit in London
(And do not know where I could sit more gladly)
I scan the extended masterpiece of Earth:
By this Globe's use we readily determine
The hour when the Great Mogul sits to dine
In India, or the Czar in Muscovy.
This Globe assures me, there's a place on Earth
Where, though the air blows pure, the genius loci
Is such that no two friends can there continue
In mutual love and friendship for two minutes.
O sad amazement, should two noble youths
(Collins for instance and -- you, you rascal Hargrave)
Of virtue and of studious parts, who long
Shared the same attic, pored on the same map,
Be shipwrecked there!
Now in the South of China,
A certain city's numerous population
Both male and female, though they use the gait
That commonly is used in Paul's Church-Yard,
Appear to strangers walking on their heads,
Inverted. O, but one of many marvels.
Blest be the Globe! O that the Lord would grant me
Before I die a journey into Denmark,
There to survey the famous Globes in Gottorp,
And honour Tycho Brahe. But less cheerly
Would I in New Castile draw near that Lake
Which in presentiment of hurricanoes
Raves at the sky, and howls man on to doom.

These truths surpass all fiction; yet truth bids
I should not daub where she herself is plain.
You have heard high legends of the Elysian Fields,
The poets' vaunted theme; but, in the fact,
They are an ordinary plot of ground,
Where higglers tie the goat or panniered ass,
Near Naples.
I must, in parenthesis,
Observe, that the opening mind's credulity
Stands in much danger from these plaguy poets.
Avoid their siren song, boys; learn betimes
To shun the glittering counterfeit of rhymes.

Thus freed the maze of error, forth we rove
On our grand tour of reason and delight;
Whether to pause among the holy relics
Of Palestine, and view the cave and fountain
Whence great St. John emerged with burning eye
To make the greater Prophet's pathway plain,
Or find each several scene of that high Suffering
By which we hope at length to inhabit heaven.
Truth still shall guide us; even at Scanderoon,
Though Jonah's Pillar be alleged the place
Where the vast Fish disgorged the man of grief,
We must reserve some doubt. Yet, did we yield
Entire persuasion there, our fault were less
Than what some dreaming ancients make, who'd hold
The Whale swam round one quarter of the World
Within three sunsets.
O most crude Excess,
Base Non-Geography, ye weeds of life,
And obstinate as Jews, who would not hear
The Joyful Gospel first announced to them
By Christ with musical appeal, heard not,
Saw not, and keep their stiff necks to this day.

Still as we go, the teeming mind of Heaven
Supplies each query, and wonder walks with use:
Our trees, in temperate Britain, that embower
Noble estates, and cool the alehouse bench,
Become those wooden walls that Spain respects,
And leafy rustling grows the Lion's roaring.
To several regions, several trees; there's one
In Mexico, where shops are few, that gives
Honey and vinegar, water, oil and wine --
Its limpid liquor passes as all these
By shrewd contrivance. Mark as well, my lads
That on Molucca coast, where the burnt air
Proposes to sea-captains strong desire
For stronger liquor, there the moral Clove
Abounds, rich cargo; virtuous to absorb
Whatever wine it neighbours. Whence it chances
That often some bold boatswain, fondly drawn
Towards the insidious hogshead, bawling hymns,
Stops, stares, starts, rages at the emptied store,
And sees too late the bags of Cloves beside.
Him I may liken to the Java tree
That, at the rising of the sun, lets fall
Its midnight buds, and in the heat all day
Stands melancholy in a funeral robe.

But time contracts my amphitheatre,
Time, that consumed even Nineveh, the maw
To which even this our City is a morsel.
I know no monster in the world like him
For hunger, wildness and sad speech; not one.
And yet there dwells in Ethiopian pools
A creature with a sighing dolorous tone
Of which report is full; the sweetest sorrow
Fills the air there, beyond Amara's mountain,
And Nubia with her poisons; those, alas,
May be the sources of that custom when
The Emperor of Monomotapa
Will drink. He takes his glass; the complete Court
At once set up prayers for him with a Voice
So loud, that all the neighbourhood aroused
Repeat the same, and on and on its sounds
Till the whole empire like a tempest swells
Its supplication for the monarch's tankard.

Such truths we owe to blest Geography,
That's certain as the magnet and the pole,
And by this learning we may scare aloof
All horned Chimaeras and vile Fallacies,
May know the world, and be the richest in it,
And keep the flag of Britain in the masts
Of thundering navies."
This great accent reached,
He paused, and nodded. The clock ticked, the fly
Walked round the Globe; till he, with sudden shock,
Struck with a silence, rubbed his eyes to find
The audience gone, plainly to view at once
Under his universal inspiration
Those fruitful wonders of the natural world.





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