Rosamond’s Chest

Communicated by Miss Vardill

The annexed description (selected from a work which will soon meet the public eye) of a Chest once sacred to Beauty, cannot be more honourably deposited than in the Chest now consecrated to Genius.


March 20th

A wondrous chest it was of fashion fair,
Rare the materials, but the work more rare:
The body of some unknown metal seem’d
And o’er its dusky hue a lustre gleam’d:
A silver moulding bent the base around
Enamel’d o’er to imitate the ground —
Figures it bore with habit, form and face
Of every clime that bears a human race
And towers of men were there, and mimic seas
And ships that seem’d to wait the slumbering breeze.
Before the whole transpicuous crystal rose
At once to guard the wonders and disclose.
In front the roof of blue and shining steel
Bore with strange characters emboss’d, a seal;
Beneath its broad projecting edge to hold
Four damsels stood of pure and massive gold;
Stern beauty and severe each face express’d
And every hand was cross’d on ev’ry breast:
Above of fretted gold a hollow cone
Rose from the centre of the cover thrown;
Of gold a gryphon stood on either side
With threat’ning beak and wings extended wide —

Far in the wilds of Afric died the sage
Who risk’d for this his being’s heritage.
No mortal hands e’er labour’d in the mine
That furnish’d forth these metals’ azure shine;
Strange fuel gave the stubborn mass the heat
That brought it ductile to the forge’s beat
And the parch’d rocks, from haunts of man remote,
Groan’d as cursed hands upon the anvil smote.
Man may not hear (and live) the words of pow’r
That bound the workers in that fearful hour
And when their task was done arose a spell
About the work, that mortal may not tell —
A sweet yet pungent fume diffus’d around
The senses with its powerful odour drown’d
Thrill’d thro’ the brain, o’er ev’ry fibre spread,
And o’er the soul a soft delirium shed.
Now mimic lightnings flash’d and from the cone
With meteor brightness rosy globes were thrown
And brilliant stars and flames of scarlet hue
That chang’d to purple, violet and blue
Then cours’d the bright prismatic order thro’
At length came forth a pale and steady light
Soft as the moon and as serenely bright.
Next rose and seem’d to swim in air around
A low and sweetly undulating sound,
Far off now floating, now returning near
And gently swelling on the charmed ear;
Then melodies ascended, varying oft
Plaintive, and low, and sweet, and wild and soft
Plaintive as requiems chanted o’er the dead
Or songs of breasts that every hope has fled:
Soft as the sigh coy Beauty breathes aside
When melting love contends with maiden pride
Or the bland airs, that thick with sweets of spring,
Scarce wake the sensitive Eolian string:
Sweet as the soft, half-smother’d, gurgling note
Heard when the nightingale prepares her throat:
When ere she puts forth all her strength again
She modulates a low prelusive strain:
Wild as the wildest ditty mermaids sing
When on a rock their sea-green hair they wring;
Now one by one their souls in music spending
Now in full harmony their voices blending
In ev’ry skirmish of sweet sound contending —

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