Thomas Hood

Here you will find the Long Poem Ode to Captain Paery of poet Thomas Hood

Ode to Captain Paery

'By the North Pole, I do challenge thee!' 
From 'Love's Labour's Lost.' 


Paery, my man! has thy brave leg 
Yet struck its foot against the peg 
On which the world is spun? 
Or hast thou found No Thoroughfare 
Writ by the hand of Nature there 
Where man has never run!


Hast thou yet traced the Great Unknown 
Of channels in the Frozen Zone, 
Or held at Icy Bay, 
Hast thou still miss'd the proper track 
For homeward Indian men that lack 
A bracing by the way?


Still hast thou wasted toil and trouble 
On nothing but the North-Sea Bubble 
Of geographic scholar? 
Or found new ways for ships to shape, 
Instead of winding round the Cape, 
A short cut thro' the collar?


Hast found the way that sighs were sent to 
The Pole?tho' God knows whom they went to! 
That track reveal'd to Pope? 
Or if the Arctic waters sally, 
Or terminate in some blind alley, 
A chilly path to grope?


Alas! tho' Ross, in love with snows, 
Has painted them couleur de rose, 
It is a dismal doom, 
As Clauclio saith, to Winter thrice, 
'In regions of thick-ribbed ice'? 
All bright,?and yet all gloom!


'Tis well for Gheber souls that sit 
Before the fire and worship it 
With pecks of Wallsend coals, 
With feet upon the fender's front, 
Roasting their corns?like Mr. Hunt? 
To speculate on poles.


'Tis easy for our Naval Board? 
'Tis easy for our Civic Lord 
Of London and of ease, 
That lies in ninety feet of down, 
With fur on his nocturnal gown, 
To talk of Frozen Seas!


'Tis fine for Monsieur Ude to sit, 
And prate about the mundane spit, 
And babble of Cook's track? 
He'd roast the leather off his toes, 
Ere he would trudge thro' polar snows, 
To plant a British Jack! 


Oh, not the proud licentious great, 
That travel on a carpet skate, 
Can value toils like thine! 
What 'tis to take a Hecla range, 
Through ice unknown to Mrs. Grange, 
And alpine lumps of brine? 


But we, that mount the Hill o' Rhyme, 
Can tell how hard it is to climb 
The lofty slippery steep, 
Ah! there are more Snow Hills than that 
Which doth black Newgate, like a hat, 
Upon its forehead, keep.


Perchance thou'rt now?while I am writing? 
Feeling a bear's wet grinder biting 
About thy frozen spine! 
Or thou thyself art eating whale, 
Oily, and underdone, and stale, 
That, haply, cross'd thy line!


But I'll not dream such dreams of ill? 
Rather will I believe thee still 
Safe cellar'd in the snow,? 
Reciting many a gallant story, 
Of British kings and British glory, 
To crony Esquimaux?


Cheering that dismal game where Night 
Makes one slow move from black to white 
Thro' all the tedious year,? 
Or smitten by some fond frost fair, 
That comb'd out crystals from her hair, 
Wooing a seal-skin dear!


So much a long communion tends, 
As Byron says, to make us friends 
With what we daily view? 
God knows the daintiest taste may come 
To love a nose that's like a plum 
In marble, cold and blue!


To dote on hair, an oily fleece! 
As tho' it hung from Helen o' Greece? 
They say that love prevails 
Ev'n in the veriest polar land? 
And surely she may steal thy hand 
That used to steal thy nails! 


But ah, ere thou art fixed to marry, 
And take a polar Mrs. Parry, 
Think of a six months' gloom? 
Think of the wintry waste, and hers, 
Each furnish'd with a dozen furs, 
Think of thine icy dome!


Think of the children born to blubber! 
Ah me! hast thou an Indian rubber 
Inside!?to hold a meal 
For months,?about a stone and half 
Of whale, and part of a sea calf? 
A fillet of salt veal!? 


Some walrus ham?no trifle but 
A decent steak?a solid cut 
Of seal?no wafer slice! 
A reindeer's tongue and drink beside! 
Gallons of sperm?not rectified! 
And pails of water-ice!


Oh, canst thou fast and then feast thus? 
Still come away, and teach to us 
Those blessed alternations? 
To-day to run our dinners fine, 
To feed on air and then to dine 
With Civic Corporations?


To save th' Old Bailey daily shilling, 
And then to take a half-year's filling 
In P.N.'s pious Row? 
When ask'd to Hock and haunch o' ven'son, 
Thro' something we have worn our pens on 
For Longman and his Co.


O come and tell us what the Pole is? 
Whether it singular and sole is,? 
Or straight, or crooked bent,? 
If very thick or very thin,? 
Made of what wood?and if akin 
To those there be in K