WHILE o'er the Alpine cliffs I musing stray'd,
And gaz'd on nature, in her charms severe,
The last soft beam of parting day display'd
The Glacier-Goddess, on her crystal sphere.

Her sledgy car, with sparkling frost-work bright,
O'er the pellucid ice her snow-birds drew,
And on her fleecy robe's refracted light
The full-blown rose's vermeil colours threw.

Slow as she graceful lifts her misty veil,
Indignant griefs her mournful glance exprest,
And thus, in falt'ring tones, the vestal pale
Breath'd the deep sorrows of her beating breast:

'Native of that green isle, where DARWIN waves
His magic wand o'er nature's vernal reign,
Her airy essence and her central caves,
Her fires electric, and her nereid train:

'Go, tell him, stranger, had his muse explor'd
My realms, new marvels had enchain'd her eye;
Go, tell him, in my sunless fanes are stor'd
Treasures no vulgar glance shall e'er descry.

'Ye nymphs of fire! around your glowing brows
What lavish wreaths your poet loves to twine;
Know, partial bard! philosophy allows
That one bright chaplet might belong to mine!

'Ah, why a vestal to a 'fiend' transform,
Bid to my steeps thy glitt'ring bands repair,
Direct with cruel aim their arrowy storm,
And chain a goddess to the 'northern bear?'

'Stay thy rash steps! my potent hand impels
The rushing avalanche to gulphs below!
I can transfix thee, numb'd, in icy cells,
Or shroud thee in unfathom'd folds of snow!

'Come not in hostile garb!--with softer art,
With dearer power, my yielding spirit seize;
Wake thy rich lyre, and melt my gelid heart
With incense sweeter than the western breeze.

'Thy muse shall mount my Lammer-Geyer's wing,
Pass o'er my untrod heights, with daring course,
While the cold genii of each new-born spring
For thee unlock the rivers' viewless source.

'For thee my sylphs, with tender care, shall mark
The pointless pathway of the secret rills,
And light with lambent ray the caverns dark,
Where chemic nature mystic wealth distils.

'For thee my sylphs in distant lands shall trace,
Where, far diffus'd, my vivifying powers
Awake, ungrateful bard, in blushing grace,
To life and love, awake thy wedded flowers.

'For thee--but ah, my pensive form he flies
For nymphs of golden locks and florid hue!
No charms have snow-white tints, or azure eyes--'
She wept, and, folded in a cloud, withdrew.

More verses by Helen Maria Williams