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Poem by Margaret Chalmers

Verses on the Jubilee Night at Lerwick

WHEN public occasions of general joy
    Give patriots a jovial night;
When loyalty reigns, and "Illumine's" the word,
    And Lerwick, all sparkling, shines bright,
Our good friend and neighbour, old Neptune, keeps watch,
    To see how we mean to behave;
Keeps his mind to himself, never saying a word,
    But peeps out now and then through a wave.
Then pleas'd to see Britons with true British hearts,
    And determin'd he'll not be behind;
For each taper we light, lights a thousand with speed,
    Is not Neptune, our friend, very kind?
But on the late ev'ning devoted to joy,
    Which yet animates every heart;
And to young and to old, to rich and to poor,
    Did true loyal pleasure impart,
He some how or other had pick'd up a hint,
    That Queen Cynthia intended to pay
Congratulings , and in regalia so bright,
    As would teach night to vie with the day.
Neptune said, with the gallantry of a true tar,
    He was glad she intended to grace
The joyous occasion, and with a low bow,
    To the lady politely gave place.
To politeness, frugality quickly succeeds,
    That Virtue he also must show;
"Sure, you good folks of Lerwick can never expect
    "Help both from above and below.
" 'Twere lighting the candle at both ends," he said,
    "And I no such example will give;
"Besides, with the lady who means to display,
    "I no interference will have."
So reserving his tapers till next happy time,
    If Cynthia no help should afford;
Said, on his assistance we then might depend,
    And he'll prove nothing worse than his word.
Then to Sea-Nymphs and Nereids, and that sort of folk,
    He gave orders, that close they should keep
Each billow and wave; nay, that not a stray breeze
    Should ruffle the face of the deep.
For he said, he was eager this mark of respect
    To great George and Britannia to pay;
And hop'd, they'd depend he would favour their right,
    Whenever it fell in his way.
Then said, he'd a mirror to Cynthia present,
    In which she might view her fair face;
For ladies to see themselves love, when they're dress'd
    And adorn'd with every grace.
And, lo! all in silver she made her entrée,
    I own she assisted the show;
Yet something self-confident hung on her mien,
    As she laugh'd at our twinkling below.
Which I thought very hard, we were joyful as she,
    And though not so splendidly drest;
Yet, with tapers and rockets and bonfires around,
    I'm sure we were doing our best.
For Neptune, good fellow, though blust'ring he's kind,
    And at heart he our welfare doth wish;
He favours our vessels, and give him his due,
    No ****rd is he of his fish.
Though, when in bad humour, he gives us a growl,
    We should study his temper to hit;
And being near neighbours, we therefore should stoop,
    The buffet to take with the bit .
I dont much approve of Queen Cynthia's plan,
    At one time she's showing away;
At another, and often when needed the most,
    Quite sullen withdraws ev'ry ray.
If she take it in head, she deserts on a night
    When a bright illumination's decreed;
Then to work goes friend Neptune, quick trimming his lamps,
    And proves himself friend in our need.

Margaret Chalmers

Margaret Chalmers's other poems:
  1. The Rose of the Rock
  2. Address to the Evening Star
  3. The Author's Address to the Critics
  4. Verses: In Humble Imitation of Burns
  5. On the Banks of the Esk

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