Said Momus to Hebe — “together we’ll call
Our friends from Parnassus and give them a ball:
Since Juno ne’er lends her pavilion to mirth
Let’s borrow the rooms of a friend upon earth.
Let Hermes leave cards on the best modern plan —
We’ll learn etiquette and politeness from man:
On Thursday at eight our acquaintance shall meet,
They know the white house in our favorite street.
The handmaids of Helicon sat at their tea
When Hebe’s bell rang — “They are waiting for me!
Apollo himself is engaged to the dance, ye
Careless girls! Where is my dress maker Fancy?”
Miss Fancy said sobbing, “Dear ma’am, I confess
I went to the white house to help you to dress,
And there was a damsel so like you in air
I gave her your ball dress, I vow and declare!”
“The lace was a piece of the magical veil
Which Ariel stole when he rode on the gale;
Ledg’d it with pearls found in Helicon’s rill,
And the satin was flow’d by the nymphs on the hill!”
Said good-natured Hebe, “Well, now ’tis too late
To trim a new bodice and slip for the fête —
I’ll borrow some matronly weeds, and to-night
Two Hebes shall shine, one in black, one in white.”
How gay was that night! From fair Flora’s own bow’rs
Her bland sister Hebe brought thousands of flow’rs;
So sweetly she strew’d them around and above
That Venus to borrow some, sent her son Love.
Queen Venus herself was invited ’tis true,
But came not where so many rivals she knew;
Tho’ Pallas accepted a card and ’tis said
Was dancing when cynics suppos’d her in bed.
But Cupid disguis’d, to be lamplighter came
And sat on the brightest directing the flame;
The conscious glass shrunk at the touch of his torch
Let them who first finger’d it, fear lest it scorch!
The Fairy Queen came with her gay sister train
From Oberon’s empire, the feast to sustain;
One stole for her vesture the grey turtle’s wing,
The other, a leaf from the white rose of spring.
Apollo was minstrel, and Cynthia look’d in
To hear the gay harp of her brother begin:
Aurora came next with her dew-spangled feet
And pale azure scarf, the assembly to greet.
She thought all the nymphs of Olympus were there
With her gems in their shoes, and her flow’rs in her hair;
Old Time danc’d himself to the banqueting room
With joy’s peacock feathers spread over his plume.
Sage Jupiter’s self in a kind father’s form,
Sat high in the centre, the banquet to warm:
His mirth-breathing son in his own honest shape
Dealt round the rich juice of Olympus’s grape.
One Hebe, in sable, sat thron’d on his right,
One smil’d at his left in her pure maiden white:
And Night while she look’d on their feast, grew so gay
She cast off her weeds and soon wedded with Day.
Apollo then caught up his lyre and exclaim’d
My chariot awaits — I must go or be blam’d!
But tho’ I rise first, let not Hebe complain,
On Wednesday night I attend her again.