[From Mona's Isle, 1844]


ERE all that was, and is below,
And all that may henceforth appear,
From heaven’s high Fount began to flow,
Or Time his course began to steer,
When Nature in her ernbrio lay,
And darkness o’er her realm did sway,—
Th’ Omnipotent, upon his throne,
Enrobed in bright celestial light,
Without beginning, reign’d alone
In endless majesty and might,
Omniscient, boundless, uncreate,
Eternally in heavenly state.

When, in his council,
God decreed To call forth nature into birth,
No sooner did the word proceed
Than sprung from chaos mother Earth,
With all the spangled universe,
His awful grandeur to rehearse.
Time came forth with steady wing,
Ready to take his circling flight
When the grand Master touch’d the spring,
In demonstration of his might,
To give projection to each sphere
Within their orbs with swift career.

Darkness no longer could maintain
Its ancient reign of gloomy night,
Nor could the fount of day refrain,
When said the Word, " Let there be light,"
From pouring forth life, light, and heat,
The glorious structure to complete.

Earth, sun, and moon, and stars were made
At great Jehovah’s high command,
And Nature’s vast foundation laid,
Firm fix’d by his Almighty hand;
And through his empire—boundless space—
Each planet’s orbit he did trace.

Enwrapp’d within her watery shroud
Our mother Earth at first did roll
Amongst the new-created crowd,
Deep deluged o’er from pole to pole,
Fraught with her new prolific seed,
Engendering the vital breed.

While thus the great aquatic ball
Around its axis spun with speed,
(Allowing not a drop to fall
Or from its surface to recede),
It moved along its aeriel course
Compactly bound by central force,

Until were summon’d to subside,
Unto their hollow beds below,
The mighty flood of watery tide,
To have their bounds to ebb and flow,
When as they to their caverns fled,
Each rugged mountain rear’d its head.

Thus were divided sea and land,
At the Creator’s mighty word,
Within their boundaries to stand,
Subservient to their sov’reign Lord
As long as Time his course should run,
And things exist beneath the sun.

When mother Earth, to stand the test
Of countless ages, thus began
To trundle eastward from the west,
To measure days and nights for man,
And round the genial sun to steer
Her annual course to mark the year,

Within her train, in due respect,
Appear’d the humble queen of night,
With varied aspect to reflect
The incidental rays of light,
And still to rule, as on she glides,
The flux and reflux of the tides:

Earth’s polar axis too was placed
Obliquely to th’ ecliptic plain,
And round her face each climate traced,
That all that sea and land contain
Might share the year’s vicissitude
Of seasons in each latitùde:

The great Colures’ 2 expansive stride
Extends across the hemisphere,
In equal quarters to divide
The passing seasons of the year,—
Two vast imaginary rounds,
Whose circ’lar limbs evade all bounds,

Or circles form’d within the mind
Of men whose thoughts extend on high,
Leaving earth’s minor scehes behind
To hold a converse with the sky,
Where countless worlds for ever there
Th’ existence of a God declare.

The Zodiac’s emblazon’d zone
Proclaims the silent strides of Time,
As Sol, upon his shining throne,
Appears th’ ecliptic road to climb,
Unchangeable in time and state,
Each passing month to indicate

By outlines of some earthly thing,
Drawn by the sages of the east,
(Ere Truth divine had ope’d her spring,)
When men mistook for God the beast,1
And placed its image in the sky,
In fancied immortality.

The Ram blows forth the boisterous blast
Of vernal equinoctial gales;
The Bull, when bleak March winds are past,
Is seen in April’s past’ral vales;
The Twins prolific emblem prove,
In May, their influence in the grove;

The emblematic Crabf is seen
When June’s in rosy wreaths array’d,
And fields are clad in emerald green
When Sol appears to retrograde;
The Lion’s 4 strength July proclaims,
When sultry heat the earth inflames;

The Virgin, 5 in her harvest weeds,
With future golden prospects rife,
In August to the fields proceeds,
To gather in the staff of life;
September in the Balance 6 weighs,
In equipoise, the nights and days;

The Scorpion’s 7 tail October stings,
As it recedes from summer’s heat,
And to the ground the foliage brings
In many a heap at its retreat;
The Archer’s 8 murderous shaft denotes
November’s overflowing moats;

Uncheering, gloomy, and remote,
The source of day December hails
From the cold regions of the Goat, 9
And storm the northern sky assails;
The Water-bearer, 10 with his urn,
Hails January’s bleak return;

The Fishes 11 now, strung back to back,
Again brings round the year to March,
And finishes the solar track
Around the great ecliptic arch,
Though in reality the Sun
Moves not, ‘tis Earth and Moon that run

Their unresisted acrid race
Around their gravitating source,
And in mid-air minutely trace
Their angular ecliptic course,
Still undiminisb’d in their speed
They onward in their path proceed.

The Chaldean sages long of yore
Astronomical questions solved,
Taught by old traditional lore,
In fabulous mystery involved,
That sun and stars, since Nature’s birth,
Revolved around quiescent earth,

And the result being still the same,
In calculating either’s case,
Brought great Copernicus to shame,
Who died beneath the sad disgrace,
That :he his powers did exert
The laws of nature to subvert:

But when great Newton’s piercing eye
The distance, bulk, and number saw
Of the bright tenants of the sky,
He stamp’d the universal law
Of gravitating influence,
As the material consequence -

Of matter, motion,—nay, the whole
Of wondrous nature down to man
is subject to its stern control,
As far as boundless space -can span,—
it doth the universe constrain
In one harmonious, endless chain.

Behold the glorious orb of light
Resting amid the blue immense,
With all the planetary weight
-Supported by its influence,
In equilibrium so fine
That it depends upon a line,

Or point, or even less than this,
The true adjustment to maintain
Within the vast obscure abyss,
Whose space withholds within its reign
System on system without bound,
Moving majestically around

The common centre of their spheres,
Silently in their obscure state,
Whose endless distance countless years
Would be too short to calculate,
Whose height, whose depth,Whose ’ra~0~d5
The searching mind of Man confounds!

Though far his natural eye can glance,
And farther his gigantic mind
Can soar amid the vast expanse,
While yet to parent earth confined,
Their boundaries like awful space
Evade his mental power to trace..—
Mysterious delegate, divine,
Of godlike essence from above,
‘Mongst nature’s whole ‘tis only thine
To know and feel Jehovah’s love !—
Suns only shine, and worlds move round
To perish at the trumpet’s sound!
But thou, when thy probation’s o’er,
Shalt fly to endless realms of light,
Where shall mortality no more
Obstruct thy free expansive flight
Through one eternal heavenly sphere,
Where sin and death shall ne’er appear!






1 Two great circles passing through the poles of the world. One of them passes through the equinoxial points Aries and Libra, the other through the solstitial points, Cancer and Capricorn. Hence they are called the equinoxial and solstitial colures ; they divide the ecliptic into four equal parts, and mark the four seasons of the year.

2 The Spring signs of the Zodiac were distinguished by the Chaldeans for the production of those animals held sacred by them, viz., the sheep, the black cattle, and the goats ; the latter, being the most prolific, were represented by the figure of Gemini, or Twins.

3 When the sun enters Cancer he discontinues his progress towards the north pole, and begins to return towards the south pole This retrograde motion is represented by a Crab, which is said to go backwards.

4 The heat that usually follows in the next month is represented by the Lion, an animal remarkable for his fierceness, and which at this season was frequently impelled, through thirst, to leave the sandy desert and make his appearance on the banks of the Nile.

5 The sun enters the sixth sign about the time of harvest, which is represented by a Virgin, or female reaper, decked with ears of corn.

6 When the sun enters Libra, the days and nights are equal all over the wocid, and seem to observe an equilibrium like abalance.

7 Autumn, which produces fruits in great abundance, and brings with it a variety of diseases, is represented by that venomous animal, the Scorpion, which wounds with a sting in its tail as it recedes.

8 The fall of the leaf was the season for hunting, and the stars which marked the sun’s path at this time were represented by a huntsrnan, or Archer, with his weapons of destruction.

9 The Goat, which delights in climbing the rugged rock and mountainous precipice, is the emblem of the Winter Solstice, when the sun begins to ascend from the southern tropic, and gradually to increase in altitude for the ensuing half year.

10 Aquarius, or the Water Bearer, is represented by the figure of a man pouring out water from an urn, an emblem of the dreary and uncomfortable season of the year.

11 The last of the zodiacal constellations is Pisces, or two fishes tied back to back, representing the fishing season. The severity of the winter is now over, and little sustenance to be derived from the flocks, but the seas and rivers re open and abound with fish.


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2000