Archive for January 8th, 2019

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The Bat—A Simile by Elizabeth Knipe Cobbold (Carolina Petty Pasty)

Frail child of earth! to whom is given
To soar with habitants of heaven,
And court, in air, the still serene
Of twilight’s deep and soften’d scene;
When purple pomps the clouds invest,
From rays that linger in the west,
And massy shadows, dark and vast,
Their veil sublime, o’er nature cast;
What time, from pale and timid flow’rs,
Sabæan ordors scent the bow’rs,
O then ’tis thine, with rapid flight,
To mock the quick and anxious sight,
Whose speculation seeks to trace
Thy arrowy path, thy flitting grace,
That, like the meteor of the sky,
Scarce paints a form upon the eye;
Now seen, now lost, with magic pow’r,
The spirit of the mystic hour!
But placed with those of equal birth,
To walk the common track of earth,
Poor feeble thing of cumbrous form,
Thou crawlst more helpless than the worm,
The blisses thy congeners try,
Scarce given to taste, much less enjoy!
How oft has fancy smil’d to see,
Some son of genius shewn in thee!
His flight, unsearchable as thine,
Eludes the glance of vulgar eyne,
As rais’d from earth, on pinion sure
He cleaves the palpable obscure;
Or flitting through the dusky glade
Enjoys sublimity in shade;
Breathes odors richer far than those
That day elicits from the rose,
And peoples all the shadowy space
With visions of immortal grace.
But check his stretch’d and soaring wing;
His pow’rs to common habits bring;
Place him on earth, and bid him then
Associate with his fellow men;
You’ll find him, spite of all his boast,
So awkward, helpless, poor and lost,
That, if possest of mere good nature,
In pity to the dubious creature,
With flattery’s aid you’ll kindly try
To help him, once again, to fly.
Here let no scornful eagle cry,
“Avaunt! Intruder on the sky;”
Nor fellow quadruped, with spite,
Deride the short, and hasty flight;
Lest, driv’n from earth, expell’d from air,
Of mousing owl, with critic stare,
That shrinks from candor’s steady ray,
The BAT become the midnight prey.

From: Cobbold, Elizabeth, Poems: With a Memoir of the Author, 1825, J. Raw: Ipswich, UK, pp. 163-165.

Date: 1823

By: Elizabeth Knipe Cobbold (Carolina Petty Pasty) (1765-1824)