To Mrs K____, On Her Sending Me an English Christmas Plum-Cake at Paris

By Helen Maria Williams 1761–1827
What crowding thoughts around me wake,
What marvels in a Christmas-cake!
Ah say, what strange enchantment dwells
Enclosed within its odorous cells?
Is there no small magician bound
Encrusted in its snowy round?
For magic surely lurks in this,
A cake that tells of vanished bliss;
A cake that conjures up to view
The early scenes, when life was new;
When memory knew no sorrows past,
And hope believed in joys that last! —
Mysterious cake, whose folds contain
Life’s calendar of bliss and pain;
That speaks of friends for ever fled,
And wakes the tears I love to shed.
Oft shall I breathe her cherished name
From whose fair hand the offering came:
For she recalls the artless smile
Of nymphs that deck my native isle;
Of beauty that we love to trace,
Allied with tender, modest grace;
Of those who, while abroad they roam,
Retain each charm that gladdens home,
And whose dear friendships can impart
A Christmas banquet for the heart!

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Poet Helen Maria Williams 1761–1827

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Subjects Friends & Enemies, Relationships, Eating & Drinking, Activities

Holidays Christmas

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Helen Maria Williams

Biography

Helen Maria Williams was a British poet, novelist, essayist, and translator known for her support of radical causes, such as abolitionism and the French Revolution. Born in London, Williams was educated by her mother and began publishing her poetry and essays with the help of her mentor, Dr. Andrew Kippis. Ardently political, one of Williams’s first works, An Ode on the Peace, celebrated the end of the American Revolution.

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Poems by Helen Maria Williams

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Friends & Enemies, Relationships, Eating & Drinking, Activities

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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