Amelia Opie

(12 November 1769 – 2 December 1853 / Norwich)

The Moon and the Comet


This fact is clear....Both man and woman
Prize not what's good, but what's uncommon ;
And most delighted still they are,
Not with the excellent, but rare,....
I could of this give proofs most stable,
But, par exemple , take a fable.

'T was night....but still a mimic day
Shone softly forth from milky way;
For now the bright unclouded moon
'Was riding in her highest noon....'
Who, as she slowly sailed along,
Beheld a most unusual throng
With eyes upraised devoutly gazing,
And heard, "Behold! see there! amazing!"
"What can this mean?" dame Cynthia said,
"Perhaps," and high she drew her head,
"Perhaps that I to earth tonight
Shine with unwonted beauty bright;
And therefore mortals in amaze
Come crowding forth on me to gaze;"
And then,....for heavenly beauties love,
Like earthly ones, applause to move,....
She stooped, within a lake below
To see how looked her sparkling brow:
And as her crescent she adjusted,
She thought, if mirrors might be trusted,
That night, so wondrous was her beauty,
To gaze on her was mortals' duty.
But O! sad fall to female pride!
She soon with wondering looks descried
'Twas not on her that eyes were turned;
For her no curious ardour burned;
At her no telescopes were aimed,
Nor wonder at her charms proclaimed;....
Some other idol now, she found,
Had fickle man in fetters bound;
And Cynthia was compelled to own,
Unseen her matchless beauty shone.
"But what," she cried, "thus rivals me?
I all the stars and planets see....
Orion has his belt in order;
Of Saturn's ring bright shines the border;
Mars sports his coat of reddest hue;
The Bear has put his horses to;....
But still, these sights so oft are seen,
There's nothing new in them I ween:
And after all I know the cry
Is, 'they are nought when I am by....'
'Tis strange; and I shall surely pout
Until I've found my rival out."

This said, she looked on every side
With eager looks of wounded pride,
And round with all the spite inspected
Of conscious beauty quite neglected;
When, lo! she saw with wondring breast,
Just twinkling in the northern west,
And dimly seen, since seen from far,
A rayless, misty, long-tailed star;
While homage from her charms was ravished,
To be on this poor Comet lavished!

W--k--e, beware! Though amateurs,
And nobles, artists, connoisseurs,
Thy works admire, thy skill commend,
And smiling o'er thy canvass bend,
Thy powers will be no more respected,
Thy crowded easel soon neglected,
If ever artist should appear
(The comet of dame fashion's sphere,)
Who works to wondering London shows
Not done with fingers, but with....toes.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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