by Helen Maria Williams
ON SAINT HELEN'S DAY, 1809.
DEAR Boys!--dismiss'd awhile from school,
From sober learning's thorny rule,--
The annual race of glory run,
The prize bestow'd, the laurels won,--
Ye leave the scientific dome,
While noisy rapture hails your home:
Home--cherish'd spot! whose magic power
Can charm with hope the studious hour;
And where the heart--however far--
Points, like the needle to its star!
And now, with many a fond oration,
Ye ask, to crown this dear vacation,
Saturnian time of sport and play,
A FÊTE !--to grace SAINT HELEN'S DAY !
But will the Saint propitious see
A Fête dear Boys! prepar'd for me?
I!--who her altar never sought,
An heretic! who idly thought
She liv'd alone in pagan fame,
And half forgot her sainted name!
But--since that name, entwin'd with palms,
The legend's deathless page embalms,
And since historic truth must own
Her crested votary fill'd a throne--
We'll lay our offerings at her shrine,
And call her, as she is, divine!
Then haste, dear Boys! and deck the bowers,
This chosen day, with festive flowers!
The votive bouquet joyful bring;
And bid your muse, on lofty wing,
The steep Parnassian summits climb,
And weave the tributary rhyme.
The soothing song which ye rehearse--
Though form'd of perishable verse,
And, like the bouquet , born to die--
Shall fill with tears affection's eye;
Shall touch, with eloquence confest,
The chords which vibrate in her breast!
Then hither bring the early friend,
With whom your bounding hearts unbend;
Till then, in vain the Fête prepared--
What Fête, unless by friendship shar'd?
Together, happy band! advance;
Together frame the sportive dance;
Together tread the mimic stage,
The TALMAS of another age;
And then, to crown this favor'd night,
Unquestion'd symbol of delight,
The soaring rocket swift shall rise,
And, sweeping, gild the midnight skies;
Bright wheels of fire shall rapid turn;
And suns, that soon must set, shall burn;
SAINT HELEN , with a smile, shall view
Her rites all paid in order due.
The Saint, become my patron now,
To her and you I breathe my vow:
Listen, dear Boys! nor take amiss
A lesson, with a parting kiss--
Your life has clos'd its baby span,
And childhood ripens into man:
On youth's gay threshold now ye tread;
The path unfolds, with roses spread,
That leads the unsuspecting guest
Where Pleasure holds her Circean feast;
With bosoms yet from evil free,
Now promise to the Saint and me,
Oft as the years, on circling wing,
This fond returning day shall bring,
While o'er the world ye lightly roam,
Far from the long-lost scene of home,
This day in Pleasure's course to pause,
This day let Reason plead her cause!
When come the years--for come they must--
When her ye love is laid in dust;
Her who for you has learn'd to prove
A mother's care--a mother's love!
From you all ill has sought to chase,
And fill a mother's vacant place:
Still on this day, to duty true,
Remember that she liv'd for you!
Ah! give her one recording sigh,
Nor pass this day with tearless eye!
Still may its chosen hours impart
The throb of virtue to the heart,
And be the talisman whose spell
Shall Passion's wild delirium quell;
Controul, with some good angel's power,
Seduction in her smiling hour.
This day, from all her wiles secure,
With nobler hopes, with purpose pure,
Resolve to feel that best delight
Reserv'd for those who live aright:
And thus, dear Boys! your tribute pay;
Thus consecrate SAINT HELEN'S DAY!
Last updated August 25, 2022