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Nil mortalibus ardui est
Caelum ipsum petimus stultitia
FROM Persian looms the silk he wove
No Weaver meant should trail above
The surface of the earth we tread,
To deck the matron or the maid.
But you ambitious, have design'd
With silk to soar above mankind:--
On silk you hang your splendid car
And mount towards the morning star.
How can you be so careless--gay:
Would you amidst red lightnings play;
Meet sulphurous blasts, and fear them not--
Is Phaeton's sad fate forgot?
Beyond our view you mean to rise--
And this Balloon, of mighty size,
Will to the astonish'd eye appear,
An atom wafted thro' the air.
Where would you rove? amidst the storms,
Departed Ghosts, and shadowy forms,
Vast tracks of aether, and, what's more,
A sea of space without a shore!--
Would you to Herschell find the way--
To Saturn's moons, undaunted stray;
Or, wafted on a silken wing,
Alight on Saturn's double ring?
Would you the lunar mountains trace,
Or in her flight fair Venus chase;
Would you, like her, perform the tour
Of sixty thousand miles an hour?--
To move at such a dreadful rate
He must propel, who did create--
By him, indeed, are wonders done
Who follows Venus round the sun.
At Mars arriv'd, what would you see!--
Strange forms, I guess--not such as we;
Alarming shapes, yet seen by none;
For every planet has its own.
If onward still, you urge your flight
You may approach some satellite,
Some of the shining train above
That circle round the orb of Jove.
Attracted by so huge a sphere
You might become a stranger here:
There you might be, if there you fly,
A giant sixty fathoms high.
May heaven preserve you from that fate!
Here, men are men of little weight:
There, Polypheme, it might be shown,
Is but a middle sized baboon.
This ramble through, the aether pass'd,
Pray tell us when you stop at last;
Would you with gods that aether share,
Or dine on atmospheric air?--
You have a longing for the skies,
To leave the fogs that round us rise,
To haste your flight and speed your wings
Beyond this world of little things.
Your silken project is too great;
Stay here, Blanchard, 'till death or fate
To which, yourself, like us, must bow,
Shall send you where you want to go.
Yes--wait, and let the heav'ns decide;--
Your wishes may be gratified,
And you shall go, as swift as thought,
Where nature has more finely wrought,
Her Chrystal spheres, her heavens serene;
A more sublime, enchanting scene
Than thought depicts or poets feign.
Top Philip Freneau Poems