The Fête in the Sun

Miss Porden

That this poor globe degenerates, who doubts
That views this age of masquerades and routs,
That marked how sober brutes and birds began
To rival their great type of folly, man
Till emulous of peacocks and of asses
The rage for dissipation reached Parnassus.

Phœbus (for strange events to Gods befall!)
Caught a sad cold at Lady Juno’s ball,
And in a cap of clouds with golden lace,
Sat snug at home, to hide his spotted face.
Thalia by his side, in friendly chat
Of the new pantomimes, of this and that
Since this for gambols was the season due
Thought that the Gods might have their gambols too.
Phœbus approved the plan and fixed Twelfth Night
To be at home, and all his friends invite.
“What all!” — “Yes, child, besides some hundred dozens
Olympian brothers, sisters, sires, and cousins.
There’s all the deities of North and East
I can’t do less than ask them once at least.

Since British poets took them by the hand
They’re rising in the world — you understand.
Nor are they newly in our circle thrust
Our friends the Romans introduced us first,
The Ethiopians too, so oft invite us,
They’re blameless, though their sable skins may fright us
And modern practice puts it past a doubt
That every class may mingle at a rout.”

The day arrived buy how shall I unfold
The beamy splendours of that hall of gold.
Bright as gas light, with flickering, living blaze
Flamed the vast dome, an aggregate of rays.
The pavement glittered, and a dazzling zone
Of gilded pillars circumscribed the throne
Around the frieze, in emblematic pride
The Colchian Ram displays his glittering hide
(Like many a gay coquette, which those who win
Find fair without, but emptiness within — )
And near Europa’s lordly savage, move,
The brethren, patterns of fraternal love,
While backward from the scene the crab withdraws
And shuns by timely flight the lion’s paws
That lion crouching at the virgin’s feet
The arm of justice scarcely dreads to meet.
The spiteful scorpion seeks the splendid row
But hides, smooth hippocrite! his sting below
Nor wounds the Centaur, who with fury hot
Darts his keen shaft at Amalthia’s goat.
Like fools that harm their friends, or him, we’re told
Who killed his goose, and lost the eggs of gold — 
There soft Aquarius limpid stream distills
And golden fishes wanton in his rills.
The same clear stream, the same delighted fishes
That sported once amid the royal dishes
Till Phœbus leaning from the envious skies,
Charm’d with the bold conception, bade them rise.

Not Odin’s halls such splendors could unfold,
Nor India’s sultry gods could fear the cold,
Great was the throng, the whole assemblage gay
Tho’, strange to tell! the party met by day
In robes with heaven’s etherial lustre bright
Immortal beauties bear the test of light
Nor find their hair assume a greener hue
Their white turn yellow, or their rouge look blue
First Venus came, still radiant beauty’s queen
Yet not as once on fountful Ida seen
Not trusting now to native charms alone
Her gold tiara, or attractive zone
But in a cashmere shawl her form she muffles
Her robe in flounces, her fair neck in ruffles.
Deigns o’er her face a close-tied hat to wear
Time said, to hide the wrinkles springing there.
While with a mincing gait around the belle
Tripped each pert Grace, a smirking demoiselle
The muses too were changed, the Highland Plaid
Veils heaven born Poesy’s majestic maid
And in the robes of some barbaric nation
Each tuneful sister suffers transmigration.
Soft sentiment from Eratos distils
Terpsichore studies waltzes and quadrilles
While Mars his cuirass and his shield discards
Yet keeps his helm a Colonel of the Guards
But should I speak of every beau and belle
My columns would the Morning Post excel,
And boast, tho’ with some hundreds of omissions
More names than one of loyal Hunts petitions.
I leave the Ocean race, the Olympian fey
They’re old acquaintance so I pass them by
And turn to those of foreign birth who play’d
A striking part, in seeming masquerade.

From Egypt, gentle Iris first was seen
A milk white bow, with such a graceful mien
That Jove half-deem’d he Jo’s self descried
And envied Apis, lowing by her side
A giant beetle now the ladies vex’d
Graceful and tall the slender Ibis next
Placed daintily her rosy feet and eyed
The ring with blended modesty and pride
And neck o’er-arch’d and pretty head aside
Anubis, barking, led a crowd of shapes
Half serpents some, half men, half birds, half apes
And near them with the Gods of Hindostan
Came their half-brother, monkey Hanuman
Next mighty Siva with his crescent eye
More bright than Luna in a midnight sky
While with his quizzing glass, in modern taste
A chain of skulls depended to his waist.
Oh who that breathes, so tasteless but would barter
For this rich wreath, the collar of the garter
Or who by envy undisturbed can view
His three broad eyes, his neck’s celestial blue
Nor jealous Parvati’s emotion share
As Ganges sports and wanders in his hair

But Rama most each heaven-born beauty charms
Now here, now there, he wears a thousand forms.
Now in a fish his greatness deigns to hide
Now deems a dwarf but takes a giant’s stride
And now at once in every place appears
Her whisper’d praise each raptured Goddess hears
Now on a hundred well turned legs he stands
Now like Briareus waves an hundred hands
While fairest Sita, smiling by his side
Varies with every change, his fitting bride.
Cavera hideous, far from sight retires
And joins at whist the Lemnian god of fires
Plutus, pursuing still his golden dream
And raging at his cards, great Polypheme,
 In robes that glitter bright with gems of gold
Where diamonds lurk unseen in every fold
With eyes, like violets dropping fragrant dew
With hair that Sabo’s richest scents imbue
With cheeks whose bloom outvies the opening rose
With vermil lips whence softest music flows
That charm by eloquence, by beauty win
A coral casket to the gems within.
From Persia’s shadowy groves the Peries fly
By all beloved, and sought by every eye
Enamour’d Genii of gigantic stature
Of mien unpolished and ingraceful feature
Toil for their smiles, and richer presents bring
Than those commanded by the lamp and ring.

Behold from Kap’s eternal ices rise
The Bird of Ages in the future wise
The Simnaugh who till this auspicious day
Still shunn’d communion with the young and gay
Near him, that sacred tree where old and young
Raffle for prizes to its branches hung
Diamonds more lucid than the Evening Star
And virgins than those diamonds brighter far
Wines, turbans, robes of every hue and size
Birds ready cook’d and fruits of Paradise
 On wings of butterflies from fragrant bowers
And clothed in petals of the richest flowers
With thistle down in many a waving crest
And diamond dew drops from the rosebud’s breast
The fairies come, their moonlight haunts forsake
By grove, or winding vale, or silver lake.
Some light and graceful as the snowdrops bloom
Some wrapt in silence and unsocial gloom — 
And some with air malign and antic tricks
Amid the graver powers unbidden mix
A wee brown man his satin pipe resigns
To seize a horn that bright with silver shines
Whose lively measurs, sounding soft and sweet
To quickest motives lures the unwilling feet
This erst the gift of friendly Oberon
From her proud sire the lovely Beria won

In vain the Sultan cursed the knight abhorr’d
In vain his warriors grasp the shining sword
Still Heron breathes the dance-inspiring air
Maid, youth, and bearded priest, the frenzy share
And the mad Sultan capers high and wild
Tho’ stolen at once his grinders and his child
 But never, never till this merry hour
Immortals felt its spirit-stirring power
E’en scornful Juno, tho’ she view’d with spleen
Her favorite bird caressed by India’s Queen
Bear smiling Scanda’s weight, or joyful spread
Its rainbow glories round bright Krishna’s head
Seized a gay Yaksha’s hand, no, German girl
Treads with more rapture the delightful whirl
E’en Pallas from her seat impatient vaults
And wheels with Bacchus in the hopping waltz.
 Then ghastly goblets in their hands appear
The guests of Odin, but the ladies fear
Not less those dreadful implements of war
The sword of Skirner and the mace of Thor
Which when the Jotni chief for Frega sighed
Cleft his thick forehead, and redeemed the bride
Next came in place, the Ash of Yggrdasil
While from its boughs the honied streams distil
Its growth from wisdom’s sacred fountains fed
By two fair Nymphs that wait beneath its shade
The serpent next his mighty coil unfurl’d
Those folds whose awful circle girds the world
And that fierce wolf, which when our race is run
Shall swallow Odin, and devour the Sun
Rejoice to see the hostile gods expire
And [???] wrap the darkened world in fire
 Two Dwarfs to great Apollo’s throne repair — 
Of Kausers blood two ample vases bear
’Tis said incensed the giant chief they slew
Then mixed his blood with honey and with dew
This fluid more of tuneful rage inspires
Than Pindas’ fountains, or th’ electric fires
And oft the Nine the powerful beverage claim
When toil impairs, or dampness chills the flame.
 This precious liquor to Gunloda’s care
Her sire consigned but Odin enter’d there
Her love he gain’d, her leave his thirst to tame
With three full draughts of the inspiring stream
Deep, deep he quaffed, the wondrous vase he drain’d
Then, as a raven, Asgard’s towers attain’d
There Asi sons their lord impatient wait
And spread the ready vessels at the gate
Slow from his beak distills th’ invalued dew
While made with rage the Jotni race pursue
The monarch fears, and of the sacred wave
A copious stream inferior sources gave
One warms with Genius, with that fire sublime
That thrills the heart, and triumphs over time
And one that strains of meaner bards inspires
Whose light a moment glimmers and expires.
 Spirits of earth, of fire, of sea and air
At Phœbus call four numerous bands repair
But who shall count the various tribes that wait
In motley groups amid his halls of state
Can tell what muses sung, who danced, who played
Where charms were brightest, who the best arrayed
Theirs was the joy insatiate, undefined
The cloudless pleasure of celestial mind
Swift flew the hours, till Hermes forward pressed
And charm’d to slumber each celestial guest
And in a comely cloud the god of light
Kerchief’d his head and bade his guests goodnight.