Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO THE FIRE-FLY OF JAMAICA, SEEN IN A COLLECTION, by CHARLOTTE SMITH



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TO THE FIRE-FLY OF JAMAICA, SEEN IN A COLLECTION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: How art thou alter'd! Since afar
Last Line: Is friendship's long regret, and true affection's tear!
Alternate Author Name(s): Smith, Charlotte Turner
Subject(s): Fireflies; Jamaica, West Indies; Slavery; Glowworms; Serfs


How art thou alter'd! since afar,
Thou seem'dst a bright earth wandering star;
When thy living lustre ran,
Tall majestic trees between,
And Guazume, or Swietan,
Or the Pimento's glossy green,
As caught their varnish'd leaves, thy glancing light
Reflected flying fires, amid the moonless night.

From shady heights, where currents spring,
Where the ground dove dips her wing,
Winds of night reviving blow,
Thro' rustling fields of maize and cane,
And wave the Coffee's fragrant bough;
But winds of night, for thee in vain
May breathe, of the Plumeria's luscious bloom,
Or Granate's scarlet buds, or Plinia's mild perfume.

The recent captive, who in vain,
Attempts to break his heavy chain,
And find his liberty in flight;
Shall no more in terror hide,
From thy strange and doubtful light,
In the mountain's cavern'd side,
Or gully deep, where gibbering monkies cling,
And broods the giant bat, on dark funereal wing.

Nor thee his darkling steps to aid,
Thro' the forest's pathless shade,
Shall the sighing Slave invoke;
Who, his daily task perform'd,
Would forget his heavy yoke;
And by fond affections warm'd,
Glide to some dear sequester'd spot, to prove,
Friendship's consoling voice, or sympathising love.

Now, when sinks the Sun away,
And fades at once the sultry day,
Thee, as falls the sudden night,
Never Naturalist shall view,
Dart with corruscation bright,
Down the cocoa avenue;
Or see thee give, with transient gleams to glow,
The green Banana's head, or Shaddock's loaded bough.

Ah! never more shalt thou behold,
The midnight Beauty, slow unfold
Her golden zone, and thro' the gloom
To thee her radiant leaves display,
More lovely than the roseate bloom
Of flowers, that drink the tropic day;
And while thy dancing flames around her blaze,
Shed odours more refin'd, and beam with brighter rays.

The glass thy faded form contains,
But of thy lamp no spark remains;
That lamp, which through the palmy grove,
Floated once with sapphire beam,
As lucid as the star of Love,
Reflected in the bickering stream;
Transient and bright! so human meteors rise,
And glare and sink, in pensive REASON'S eyes.

Ye dazzling comets that appear
In Fashion's rainbow atmosphere,
Lightning and flashing for a day;
Think ye, how fugitive your fame?
How soon from her light scroll away,
Is wafted your ephemeron name?
Even tho' on canvas still your forms are shewn,
Or the slow chisel shapes the pale resembling stone.

Let vaunting OSTENTATION trust
The pencil's art, or marble bust,
While long neglected modest worth
Unmark'd, unhonor'd, and unknown,
Obtains at length a little earth,
Where kindred merit weeps alone;
Yet there, tho' VANITY no trophies rear,
Is FRIENDSHIP's long regret, and true AFFECTION'S tear!





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