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Constantinople: To [William Feilding]1
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Give me, Great God (said I) a Little Farm
In Summer shady and in Winter warm,
Where a clear Spring gives birth to a cool brook
By nature sliding down a Mossy rock,
Not artfully in Leaden Pipes convey'd
Nor greatly falling in a forc'd Cascade,
Pure and unsulli'd winding through the Shade.
All-Bounteous Heaven has added to my Prayer
A softer Climat and a Purer air.
        Our frozen Isle now chilling winter binds,
Deform'd with rains and rough with blasting winds,
The wither'd woods grown white with hoary froast
By driving Storms their verdent Beauty's lost,
The trembling Birds their leafless coverts shun
And seek in Distant Climes a warmer Sun,
The water Nimphs their Silenc'd urns deplore,
Even Thames benum'd, a river now no more;
The barren meadows give no more delight,
By Glistening Snow made painfull to the Sight.
        Here Summer reigns with one Eternal Smile,
And Double Harvests bless the happy Soil.
Fair, fertile, fields! to whom indulgent Heaven
Has every charm of every Season given,
No killing Cold deforms the beauteous year,
The Springing flowers no comeing winter fear,
But as the Parent rose decayes and dyes
The infant buds with brighter collours rise
And with fresh Sweets the Mother's-Scent Supplies.
Near them the Vi'let glows with odours blest
And blooms in more than Tyrian Purple drest,
The rich Jonquills their golden gleem display
And shine in glory emulating day.
These chearfull groves their Living Leaves retain,
The streams still murmur undefil'd by rain,
And rising green adorns the fruitfull plain.
The warbling Kind uninterrupted Sing,
Warm'd with enjoyment of perpetual Spring.
        Here from my Window I at once survey
The crouded City, and Resounding Sea,
In Distant views see Asian Mountains rise
And lose their Snowy Summits in the Skies.
Above those Mountains high Olympus tow'rs
(The Parliamental seat of heavenly Pow'rs).
New to the sight, my ravish'd Eyes admire
Each gilded Crescent and each antique Spire,
The Marble Mosques beneath whose ample Domes
Fierce Warlike Sultans sleep in peacefull Tombs.
Those lofty Structures, once the Christian boast,
Their Names, their Glorys, and their Beautys lost,
Those Altars bright with Gold, with Sculpture grac'd,
By Barbarous Zeal of Savage Foes defac'd:
Sophia alone her Ancient Sound retains
Thô unbeleiving Vows her shrine prophanes.
Where Holy Saints have dy'd, in Sacred Cells
Where Monarchs pray'd, the Frantic Derviche dwells.
How art thou falln, Imperial City, low!
Where are thy Hopes of Roman Glory now?
Where are thy Palaces by Prelates rais'd;
Where preistly Pomp in Purple Lustre blaz'd?
Where Grecian Artists all their Skill display'd
Before the Happy Sciences decay'd,
So vast, that youthfull Kings might there reside,
So splendid, to content a Patriarch's pride,
Convents where Emperours profess'd of Old,
The Labour'd Pillars that their Triumphs told
(Vain Monuments of Men that once were great!)
Sunk undistinguish'd in one common Fate!
        One Little Spot the small Fenar contains,
Of Greek Nobillity, the poor remains,
Where other Helens show like powerfull Charms
As once engag'd the Warring World in Arms,
Those Names which Royal Auncestry can boast
In mean Mechanic arts obscurely lost,
Those Eyes a second Homer might inspire,
Fix'd at the loom, destroy their useless Fire.
        Greiv'd at a view which strikes upon my Mind
The short-liv'd Vanity of Humankind,
In Gaudy Objects I indulge my Sight
And turn where Eastern Pomp gives Gay Delight.
See; the vast Train in Various Habits drest,
By the bright Scimetar and sable vest,
The Vizier proud, distinguish'd o're the rest.
Six slaves in gay Attire his Bridle hold,
His Bridle rich with Gems, his stirrups Gold,
His snowy Steed adorn'd with Lavish Pride,
Whole troops of Soldiers mounted by his Side,
These toss the Plumy Crest, Arabian Coursers guide.
With awfull Duty, all decline their Eyes,
No Bellowing Shouts of noisie crouds arise,
Silence, in solemn state the March attends
Till at the Dread Divan the slow Procession ends.
        Yet not these prospects, all profusely Gay,
The gilded Navy that adorns the Sea,
The rising City in Confusion fair,
Magnificently form'd irregular,
Where Woods and Palaces at once surprise,
Gardens, on Gardens, Domes on Domes arise,
And endless Beauties tire the wandring Eyes,
So sooths my wishes or so charms my Mind
As this retreat, secure from Human kind,
No Knave's successfull craft does Spleen excite,
No Coxcomb's Tawdry Splendour shocks my Sight,
No Mob Alarm awakes my Female Fears,
No unrewarded Merit asks my Tears,
Nor Praise my Mind, nor Envy hurts my Ear,
Even Fame it selfe can hardly reach me here,
Impertinence with all her tattling train,
Fair sounding Flattery's declicious bane,
Censorious Folly, noisy Party rage,
The thousand Tongues with which she must engage
Who dare have Virtue in a vicious Age.

Source: Robert Halsband and Isobel Grundy, eds. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993), 206-210.


1.Also known as “Verses Written in the Chiask at Pera, overlooking Constantinople, December 26, 1718.”