A Poem

The following panegyric poem can also be found on pages 185 -192 in 'Rambles in the Isle of Wight' by John G William and was published in 1843. Its enthusiasm for St. John's was shared by many other Victorian writers. Owing to the length of the original the following is an abridged version.

St. John's! St. John's! thou art a lovely spot, When summer clothes thee with its sunny light;

Making the woodbine of the peasant's cot. As rich in fragrance as its blooms are bright.

How oft, unnotic'd, have I wander'd here - How oft reclin'd upon the new-mown hay,

And wish'd, however van it may appear, I'd learn'd discretion in an earlier day !

How often gaz'd on Simeon's princely seat, Where want forgets to murmur and complain,

And thought how much one rood of that retreat Would quell the fears I'm prone to entertain.

How should I revel if, amidst these trees, I had some pleasant cottage of my own,

With means sufficient for a poet's ease, And friends far diff'rent to the tribe I've known !

I'd rather live amodst these elms and oaks, In some small cottage, than in Portman Square,

For Nature here no jealousy provokes, Nor envies Art luxuriating there.

Hence, when I sit upon thy mossy grounds, Thou fairy spot ! and contemplate the sea,

My heart with secret ecstasy abounds - I feel as happy as a bard needs be !

Beneath me lay the pleasant town of Ryde, Whose terrac'd villas glitter'd through the trees -

Beyond them shone the undulating tide, Where yachts and barques were waiting for a breeze.

Running far out into the azure sea, The Pier display'd its fashionable throng,

Swells, dandies, nobles, sailors full of glee, And nymphs as happy as the days were long !

There were the tourists from the boats alighting, From Portsmouth some, and from Southampton others,

The ladies all so lovely and inviting, You scarcely knew the daughters from their mothers.

There were the fathers hauling up the boxes, All corded round and nicely canvass'd over -

There were the sailors chatting with their doxies, And all 'as happy as a cow in clover'.

There were the porters running up and down, Making the place all noise and hurly-burly -

There Mr Smith was ogling Mrs Brown, And Brown, her husband, looking rather surly.

But leaving these, and turning to thy groves, How many happy moments have I pass'd,

Thou pleasing spot ! where mem'ry often roves, And finds herself at liberty, at last !

Not Appley, famous for its classic shades, Can boast, St. John's ! more beautiful retreats

Than thy romantic and inspiring glades, Where nature revels in perpetual sweets !

Here trees, in summer's richest verdure dress'd, Protect us from the rigours of the sun -

Here all things, basking in Idalian rest, Distinctly shew what Providence has done.

The grounds, the lawn, the mansion, and the sea, All wear a charm no labour can increase -

All seem reposing, from intrusion free, In cloudless sunshine and unbroken peace!

Thrice happy Simeon! may these blessings long Surround thee and thy family - and when

Thou leavs't these beauties, to reside among Angels, instead of mercenary men -

May those who follow imitate thy ways, And still preserve this memorable spot

In all that beauty which it now displays, And, once beheld, can never be forgot !

Farewell St. John's ! I never shall recur To thee, unmindful of those sunny hours

When scarce a zephyr was allow'd to stir Thy aspen leaves and honeysuckle flow'rs -

St. John's ! St. John's ! there is a pleasing spell About thy grounds I never shall forget,

It seems to haunt me wheresoe'er I dwell, And all my paths incessantly beset !

And like the needle that, through ev'ry change, Keeps more or less directed to the pole,

This heart of mine, wherever I may range, Will turn to thee and yield to thy control !

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