On proud Britannia’s Rocky Seat
(Where all together oft they meet)
The Seasons stopp’d, & each to Fame
Announc’d her merits & her claim.
First Spring began — “My laughing hours
Bring genial gales & balmy flow’rs;
I bid young Beauty share my throne,
The fairest semblance of her own:
And Love, an urchin shrewed and shy,
Strives in my fost’ring lap to lie;
There oft I deck the frolic elf
With buds as tender as himself,
While in my gentle sway he sees
An emblem of his soft decrees.”
Then Summer spoke — “My presence calls
Gay Beauty’s train to rural halls,
Their fading roses to renew,
And bathe their feet in fragrant dew.
With me the youthful minstrel roves
Thro’ shaded glens or lonely groves;
And seeks their warbling choirs among,
New graces for her attic song.
Pale Spleen and haggard Care resign
Their drowsy vigils while I shine;
My smile gives vigor to the Sage
And second life to sacred Age.”
Said Autumn — “Sisters, boast no more
That poets revel in your store!
The warbling race would soon expire,
And soon the rural hall would tire,
Unless to grace its festive board
I yield the riches of my hoard.
Your gifts look gay on Cupid’s shrine
But prudent Hymen waits for mine!
Chaste Truth and sober Taste I suit —
They praise the flow’r, but prize the Fruit.”
Her sceptre gemm’d with frozen dew
Mild WINTER waved, and said — “With you
Love, Health, and Fancy form alliance,
With me — Joy, Friendship, Wit and Science!
Behold, this magic CHEST is mine
Where all their mingled treasures shine!
Your own united gifts I glean
To grace and fill my social scene:
Sylphs, fairies, elves of earth and fire
To crown this hallowed chest conspire —
Here Satire’s light-wing’d shafts are found,
And Cupid’s — never meant to wound;
And oft as mortal nymphs arrayed
The welcome Muses lend their aid.
Go, Sisters! boast your rosy bow’rs,
But own my right to ATTIC HOURS!
Fame has that envied right confest
And hails the op’ning of my CHEST!”