A Riddle

Miss Porden

O’er sultry Afic’s sandy waste
Which man conspires with heaven to blast,
Four patient Arabs slowly passed.
The burning Simoom all the day
Had drained their little strength away.
The sands in waves around them rise,
And seeming lakes delude their eyes,
Without one pause of twilight gray,
To mark the sun’s declining sway.
Just as the sudden darkness fell
They reached a small but shady well,
The scanty herbs their camels steal
The millet forms their simple meal.
All day they breathed a wind of flame
But chilling dews with evening came.
The cold in every aching limb,
The roaring of the lions grim.
The hyen’s laugh, the jackal’s cry,
Now bid them raise the watchfire high.
Upon the sandy surface spread,
Th’acacia’s boughs their fuel made,
But when with morning’s early ray
They let the guardian flame decay
How did these simple wanderers stare
To find me in the embers there.
Unshapely, thick, and black, ’tis true
But deem’d of worth, for I was new.
Thence to Almamon’s court conveyed
Their care the caliph’s bounty paid.
Since then in every clime I shine
What use, what rank, what honours mine!
 I guard you from the wintry wind,
To me are Bacchus’ stores consign’d.
I deck the board a thousand ways
I lend the lamp a brighter blaze,
And mock the diamond’s lucid rays.
Thro’ me the learned Huber sees
The wondrous toils of ants and bees.
On Albion’s shore the lotus blows
The grape with richer purple glows
And winter culls the fragrant rose.
As sparkling fountains pure and bright
Of purple hue, or dark as night,
Oft in the hallowed fane I shine
In many a saintly form divine.
New sight I lent to failing age,
New worlds discover to the sage.
Thro’ me he scans the laws of light,
Or pierces yon Empyrean height.

Answer: Glass