To Mr. Blanchard, the Celebrated Aeronaut
The Last Poems of Philip Freneau, ed. Louis Leary (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1945): 8-10. PS 755 A5L4 Robarts Library
1 From Persian looms the silk he wove
2 No Weaver meant should trail above
3 The surface of the earth we tread,
4 To deck the matron or the maid.
5 But you ambitious, have design'd
6 With silk to soar above mankind: --
7 On silk you hang your splendid car
8 And mount towards the morning star.
9 How can you be so careless -- gay:
10 Would you amidst red lightnings play;
11 Meet sulphurous blasts, and fear them not --
12 Is Phaeton's sad fate forgot?
13 Beyond our view you mean to rise --
14 And this Balloon, of mighty size,
15 Will to the astonish'd eye appear,
16 An atom wafted thro' the air.
17 Where would you rove? amidst the storms,
18 Departed Ghosts, and shadowy forms,
19 Vast tracts of aether, and, what's more,
20 A sea of space without a shore! --
21 Would you to Herschell find the way --
22 To Saturn's Moons, undaunted stray;
23 Or, wafted on a silken wing,
24 Alight on Saturn's double ring?
25 Would you the lunar mountains trace,
26 Or in her flight fair Venus chase;
27 Would you, like her, perform the tour
28 Of sixty thousand miles an hour? --
29 To move at such a dreadful rate
30 He must propel, who did create --
31 By him, indeed, are wonders done
32 Who follows Venus round the sun.
33 At Mars arriv'd, what would you see! --
34 Strange forms, I guess -- not such as we;
35 Alarming shapes, yet seen by none;
36 For every planet has its own.
37 If onward still, you urge your flight
38 You may approach some satellite,
39 Some of the shining train above
40 That circle round the orb of Jove.
41 Attracted by so huge a sphere
42 You might become a stranger here:
43 There you might be, if there you fly,
44 A giant sixty fathoms high.
45 May heaven preserve you from that fate!
46 Here, men are men of little weight:
47 There, Polypheme, it might be shown,
48 Is but a middle sized baboom. --
49 This ramble through, the æther pass'd,
50 Pray tell us when you stop at last;
51 Would you with gods that æther share,
52 Or dine on atmospheric air? --
53 You have a longing for the skies,
54 To leave the fogs that round us rise,
55 To haste your flight and speed your wings
56 Beyond this world of little things.
57 Your silken project is too great;
58 Stay here, Blanchard, 'till death or fate
59 To which, yourself, like us, must bow,
60 Shall send you where you want to go.
61 Yes -- wait, and let the heav'ns decide; --
62 Your wishes may be gratified,
63 And you shall go, as swift as thought,
64 Where nature has more finely wrought,
65 Her Chrystal spheres, her heavens serene;
66 A more sublime, enchanting scene
67 Than thought depicts or poets feign.
Publication Start Year:
"Stanzas Addressed several years ago to Mr. Blanchard, the celebrated Aeronaut in America," New-York Weekly Museum (September 21, 1816).
RPO poem Editors: