To the Authoress of the Arctic Expeditions

Miss Vardill

Go, gentle Sylph! thy pinions fleet
Might reach the “Glacier’s stormy seat”!
Thou of all elements the queen
May best illume the deathful scene
Where ice gives fiery meteors birth
And stiffen’d ocean vies with Earth:
But send not all they pity forth
With pilgrims to the frozen north,
Pity thy Bards whose spirits quell’d
Are in a frozen circle held
Condemn’d by thy neglect to sleep
In dumb oblivion, dark and deep,
Encompass’d by the blue fiend’s realm
Whose fogs the captive soul o’erwhelm.
Come, then! — with bland and genial sway
The icy barriers melt away,
From long oblivious frost release
Of wand’ring thoughts whole colonies
That all in search of gems and flow’rs
Stray’d far from safe domestic bow’rs
As pilgrims rov’d to Greenland’s shore
And prison’d there, return’d no more.

Alas! thus Folly’s venturers roam
From the calm temp’rate zone of Home,
Of gaudy toys and dreams in quest
Till bitter gales their speed arrest
And bare and bruis’d their bark is hurl’d
On the cold Arctic of the World
To dwell bound up in icy chains
While Life’s long polar winter reigns,
In pomp magnificently drear
As the blank ice-field’s dismal glare:
Unless, like thee, some gentle star
Of kind affection gleams from far
And leads to peaceful duty’s track
The long-forgotten wand’rers back.

Speak, gentle Sylph! — at thy command
Our frozen climate shall grow bland —
Come, and with playful meteors gild
Our fancy’s region dimm’d and chill’d;
While ice winds breathe their cold monsoon
Be thou th’unchanging Arctic moon
That dark and devious regions through
May lead thy poet’s light canoe
To some bright vale where all unseen
Long truant joys have hidden been,
Like the lost race that home again
Norwegia’s pastor call’d in vain.
But fear not then that unknown force
Shall sway Attraction’s alter’d course;
For though within the dread controul
Of that dark zone that binds the pole
The needle from its place may turn
And loadstones other influence learn,
The true heart shall not lose its skill —
Thyself shall be its magnet still.

April 12th 1818