Poems on Conchology and Botany (Sarah Hoare)

The following verses are representative of the 72 stanzas on shells in "Poems on Conchology and Botany" by Sarah Hoare (Simpkin & Marshall, London, 1831). I have been unable to ascertain any particulars about the poetess except that her name is on the title page of this slim volume, which deserves wider popularity. In my MS "Zoological Garden of Verses" is a note that her publishers were "bombed to blazes in 1941." In these unromantic days Sarah's pearls of poesy can still be appreciated, though perhaps not quite in the way she intended or would have approved.

To feed upon the peach's bloom
T' inhale Dianthus' sweet perfume,
     And rest upon the Rose;
To revel in the gay parterre,
So sweet, so costly, and so rare,
"From morn till dewy eve," and there
     To take the last repose,

Chiton! thou ne'er hadst cause to fear,
The warrior's lance, the warrior's spear,
    Though still in coat of mail;
Health to thy breast, and peace serene,
Enjoy thy pleasures submarine,
May no rude spoiler intervene,
    Thy safety to assail.

Not unattractive is thy mien,
Solen! though not in splendor* seen,
    With tempting charms to win;
'T is not the richly broider'd vest,
By fashion's fondest child possest,
Was ever yet esteem'd a test,
    Of genuine worth within.

Yet the soft-violet colour'd ray,
That paints thy robe, may well repay
    Thy want of glitt'ring store;
The Atlantic storm thou'rt wont to brave,
And in Pacific seas to lave,
To bask upon the Indian wave,
    That breaks on Java's shore.

Mactra! Though not advanc'd to wear
The palm of conquest, yet thine air
    Of pure simplicity,
Might charm the most fastidious eye,
That satiate with variety,
Turns from the glare of finery,
    To rest awhile on thee.

Spondilus! Those repulsive arms,
Believe me, ill secure thy charms,
    From man's all conquering hand;
He'd seek the distant barbarous clime,
Or Hymalayan* steep sublime;
Nay - sacrifice his health, his prime,
    To hold thee at command.

Thou Strombus! hast no fine array,
No physiognomical display,
    To seize upon the soul;
Sensations rise at sight of thee,
Far other than the ecstasy,
That beauty's winning sovereignty,
    Inspires from pole to pole.

Th' ambitious view in courts to shine,
The proud desire to charm mankind,
    To Turbo none impute;
And yet this dress of studied care,
Where emerald, azure, gold appear,
Implies no vast dislike to wear,
    A royal birth-day suit.

Helix! may suit thy taste and form,
And I like thee would shun the storm
    Of life, and live alone;
Like hermit in a safe retreat,
From scenes where false ones coldly greet,
And uncongenial tempers meet,
    Unknowing and unknown.

There's grace in thy unstudied dress,
Which adds to native loveliness,
    There's music in thy name;
Thy varied rays, and polish bright,
Charm the unwearied gazer's sight,
Then fair Tellina! claim thy right,
    And swell the breath of fame.

But not alike to all is bloom,
Or elegance, or gay costume,
    Or fair proportion given;
Yet still in all around we find,
Some good peculiar to its kind
Some useful power to each assign'd,
    The gift of fav'ring Heaven.

Oft times beneath a homely guise,
The real worth that secret lies,
    Most tenderly endears;
So Cardium! one of the fair host,
Though least in beauty, still can boast
Superior claims to reign the toast,
    Above her gay compeers.

We will not spurn thy simple guise
Dentalium! nor thy form despise,
    'T were thankless as 't were rude,
Giv'n by his power whose mighty hand,
Th' unlimited creation plann'd,
And made all good - thou must command
     Our praise and gratitude.

I would not doubt with impious mind,
Teredo! good in thee to find,
    Though navigators dread
Thy piercing power - and with dismay
Cast thee as direful foe away,
And, ah! for thee - profusely pray
    For curses on thy head.

Fair Argonauta! not a soil
Adown thy robe - thou wouldst recoil,
    From vulgar, mean, or course*;
Enough of elegance displays,
Thy form, to fix the admiring gaze,
And reverentially to raise
    The mind to Beauty's Source.

Alike to thee to float at ease,
Lepas! upon the summer seas,
    Or midst the tempest's foam;
Thine architecture firmly braves,
The lightning's glare, the infuriate waves,
And howsoe'er the ocean raves,
    Secures thee still a home.

(*Sarah's spelling)

Originally published by A. E. Ellis in The Conchologists' Newsletter, No. 23, p. 24, dated December 1967