December 19, 1874


The Transit of Venus is over:
A spot on the Sun for four hours,
The radiant aërial-rover
Now sparkles the chief of star-flowers,
Home troop the astronomers various,
And bring their celestial log,
Some rendered by sunshine hilarious,
Some damped by inopportune fog.
They went forth in peaceful battalions,
The secrets of Science to clutch,
Americans, Germans, Italians,
With Frenchmen and English and Dutch:
Where the hardness of ice defies granite's
Where lizards the noon-day warmth ahun,
They watched the most brilliant of planets
turn sable in crossing the Sun.
"Alma Venus," exclaimeth LUCRETIUS;
Fair Goddess, the player of many tricks,
Of doings fantastic, facetious,
The quite inexhaustible genetrix!
Now binding all nations together
In a scheme tele-plus-spectroscopie,
Star-goddess, you bring us fair weather,
And we hail you as most philantropic.
When, braving sub-tropie malaria,
And noses and fingers that freeze,
From Kerguelen to dismal Siberia
Astronomers sail o'er the seas,
Fair Venus, our beautiful neighbour,
Throws down her distinguishing light,
'Twixt the armies for Science who labour,
And the armies for conquest who fight.
Punch with patience waits tidings of Science,
But waits, with a thirty impatience,
For the time when all warlike defiance
Will cease among civilised nations.
From quarreling canst thou not screen us,
O brightest and clearest of stars,
And let the last Transit of Venus
Be crowned by the Exit of Mars?