John Gardiner Calkins Brainard

(1796-1828 / the United States)

The Two Comets - Poem by John Gardiner Calkins Brainard

There once dwelt in Olympus some notable oddities,
For their wild singularities call'd Gods and Goddesses.-
But one in particular beat'em all hollow,
Whose name, style, and title was Phoebus Apollo.
Now Phoeb. was a genius-his hand he could turn
To anything, everything genius can learn:
Bright, sensible, graceful, cute, spirited, handy,
Well bred, well behaved-a celestial Dandy!
An eloquent god, though he didn't say much;
But he drew a long bow, spoke Greek, Latin and Dutch;
A doctor, a poet, a soarer, a diver,
And of horses in harness an excellent driver.
He would tackle his steeds to the wheels of the sun,
And he drove up the east every morning, but one;
When young Phaeton begg'd of his daddy at five,
To stay with Aurora a day, and he'd drive.
So good natured Phoebus gave Phaey the seat,
With his mittens, change, waybill, and stage horn complete;
To the breeze of the morning he shook his bright locks,
Blew the lamps of the night out, and mounted the box.
The crack of his whip, like the breaking of day,
Warm'd the wax in the ears of the leaders, and they
With a snort, like the fog of the morning, clear'd out
For the west, as young Phaey meant to get there about
Two hours before sunset. He look'd at his 'turnip,'
And to make the delay of the old line concern up,
He gave'em the reins; and from Aries to Cancer,
The style of his drive on the road seem'd to answer;
But at Leo, the ears of the near wheel-horse prick'd.
And at Virgo the heels of the off leader kick'd;
Over Libra the whiffle-tree broke in the middle,
And the traces snapp'd short, like the strings of a fiddle.
One wheel stuck near Scorpio, who gave it a roll,
And sent it to buzz, like a top, round the pole;
While the other whizz'd back with its linchpin and hub,
Or, more learnedly speaking, its nucleus or nub;
And, whether in earnest, or whether in fun,
He carried away a few locks of the sun.
The state of poor Phaeton's coach was a blue one,
And Jupiter order'd Apollo a new one;
But our driver felt rather too proud to say 'Whoa,'
Letting horses, and harness, and everything go
At their terrified pleasure abroad; and the muse
Says, they cut to this day just what capers they choose;
That the eyes of the chargers as meteors shine forth;
That their manes stream along in the lights of the north;
That the wheels which are missing are comets, that run
As fast as they did when they carried the sun;
And still pushing forward, though never arriving,
Think the west is before them, and Phaeton driving.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 18, 2010

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