What planetary form deceives my sight
Whence thro’ the East breaks forth unusual light?
Uranus cries “Saturn can’st thou unfold
Who moves beyond? The twinkling orb behold!
The lucid speck a planet’s aspect wears
And lo! a seventh satellite appears”
No planet ever in that region known
Or twinkling satellite thro’ ether shone”
Saturn replied, “Of this I’m sure
Yet optical deception may allure,
And oft mislead the learned — let’s refer
The subject to our Muse, who cannot err;
The great Urania, shall her science prove
And tell who dares presumptuously to rove.
Tonight the planets in assembled state,
Th’opinion of high Jove in counsel wait;
For each astonish’d has at eve perceiv’d
The luminary — and like us deceiv’d
Perhaps by false appearance tinsel hue
Almost believe the thing a planet true,
And different climes with veneration own,
A mighty world to Newton e’en unknown.
In such discourse th’ ethereal way they clear,
Till Hermes tells the court of Jove they’re near;
Dauntless they onward speed secure of fame,
At least thus great Alcides gives his name;
And now his satellites in homage wait
Their master’s exit from th’ Olympian gate;
The counsel meet when pure effulgent light
Illumes the sable drapery of the night.
Forth from Urania’s crest a radiant stream
Unites with Luna’s chaste and silv’ry beam;
That rest upon the stranger’s spangled vest
Whose splendor fades by genuine lustre pressed.
And as the circle the impostor eyes,
“What need we further proof?” Urania cries,
“Presumptuous meteor of electric flame
Dar’st thou assume our noble hero’s name,
Whose valiant deeds recorded in the sky,
In yonder starry constellation lie?
Deceive no more our truth enquiring eyes
As some new planet of th’ eastern skies —
Hence! Where imagination — fiction’s free —
Utopia’s isle is only worthy thee?
Thy punishment be just, altho’ severe,
Thro’ regions pass thou of the solar sphere;
There melt thy dross in elemental heat,
And learn that genuine worth is only great.”
Astonish’d — speechless — no excuse he found,
As hisses echoed thro’ the circle round;
The mimic planet glance indignant threw,
As he in lost resplendency withdrew.
Unwittingly the Muse must now relate,
The sequel of her hero’s direful fate;
As solar regions he was journeying fast,
A heated comet flew eccentric past;
With beaming tail the bold impostor hurl’d
A nebula henceforth in unform’d world
Of starry space unnotic’d ere to dwell,
And thus unpitied false Alcides fell.