Let's Go Fly A Kite!

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Let's Go Fly A Kite!

Post by Grymm »

I was idley flicking through a book of 18thC poems, like y'do, when
this one from 1733 by Samuel Bowden caught my eye.It describes the
making and flying of a paper kite, including night flying with a
lantern hung from the tail. Sounds like a fun thing to do at a do when we're not shooting at each other so I though I'd share. Obviously the kites would have to be thoroughly tested for safty.....er....and stuff before I'd risk letting the kids have a go =o).

Sorry it's long but these 18thC poets do bang on a bit.
YMH&Ob Servt, Grymm.


Fertur in arva volans, plausumq; exterrita pennis,
Dat cœlo ingentem; mox aere lapsa quieto,
Radit iter liquidum, celeres neque commovet alas.
VIRG. Æn. L. V.

WHILE grov'ling Sports the humble Croud delight,
My Muse shall trace aloft the Paper-Kite,
Which on expanded Wings sublimely flies,
And with Dædalian Skill ascends the Skies.
Say then, how modell'd by mechanic Art,
She boasts true Symmetry in ev'ry Part.
And first two crossing Sticks you aptly join,
Then gird each Corner with surrounding Twine.
To make the arched Piece a Thorn you tie,
For light Materials are the best to fly.
Next let the Sides at equal Distance swing;
The least Excess retards her airy Wing.
So Cooks first poize the Spit, and oft essay,
Lest, dire Mishap! this Side should that outweigh.
In Form quadrangular the Fabric stands,
Erected Idol of laborious Hands.
Now round the wooden Frame the Youth rejoice,
And hail the half-form'd Kite with grateful Voice.
Not mathematic Sages triumph more,
Who figur'd Schemes and Orbs above explore.
The Grecians thus acclaim'd their Horse of Wood,
When fraught with Vengeance on the Shore it stood.
The Body next with Paper Sail they fill,
With Paste cemented by superior Skill.
To represent the Wings at either Side,
Two fringed Tufts like Pulpit Bobs are ty'd.
In equal Focus's then floats between,
The central String, which guides the whole Machine,
While, rudder-like, the Tail beneath is bound,
And sweeps its lengthen'd Train in State along the Ground.
You who new Pamphlets or old Folios prize,
Now guard your learned Shelves with watchful Eyes,
For oft unthinking Boys, on Plunder bent,
To form their Kite, have labour'd Volumes rent.
Oft the Concordance suffers for its Age,
Its blotted Lines, and dark, tremendous Page.
Here pond'rous Pool, with Scotus' empty Stuff,
In Ruins fall, their Bulk is Crime enough.
In the same Fate discordant Parties mix,
And great Le Clerc here joins with Dr. Hicks.
Here Hobbs with Hall, or Hammond, falls a Prey,
And rakish Rochester is tack'd to Ray.
Now Cowley's sacred Leaves with Ballads fly,
And Whigs with Tories friendly mount the Sky.
But oh, rash Youth! th'immortal Page forbear,
Nor Lock's, nor Cudworth's gen'rous Essays tear,
On Schoolmen waste your Rage, but not your Time,
And let the dark Imposer mount sublime.
The Kite, compleated thus, is born along,
By some blest Leaders of the shining Throng,
Who to the Fields elate with Joy repair,
And wait the Blast that wafts her in the Air.
So when some new-built Ship is launch'd for Sail,
And only tarries for the prosp'rous Gale,
Th'impatient Crew each rising Breeze explore,
And long to see her sail, and quit the Shore.
Now from the central String extends the Line,
And for the Flight lie harness'd Rolls of Twine.
This takes the String, remote his Partner stands,
And holds the Kite, impatient, in his Hands.
She tugs to go; he scarce without a Prayer,
Commits the struggling Engine to the Air.
But oh! what Passions fluctuate in his Mind,
To whom th'important Office is consign'd,
To whom 'tis giv'n to steer the rising Kite,
Pilot her Motions, and assist her Flight!
Soon as she mounts, he flying meets the Wind,
Oft chides his Mate, and often looks behind.
The trickling Twine glides thro' his glowing Hand,
And Joy transporting flushes all the Band,
Applauding Shouts pursue her as she flies,
And raise the Wind that bears her to the Skies.
So Larks on poised Pinions soar sublime,
In Ether lost, still singing as they climb.
The Paper Yatch high hovers with its Train,
While Birds affrighted leave th'ethereal Plain
All vacant to her Sweep, and wondring find
Their Empire lessen'd, and their Flight confin'd.
Oft when th'unballanc'd Kite requires more Sail,
Their Hats and Handkerchiefs assist the Tail.
Oh happy Boy! who now with Pleasure sees
His flying Glove mount on the airy Breeze,
How does he almost fly with rapt'rous Charms,
To meet the Bird descending to his Arms!
And how transported tell to listning Crouds,
This is the Glove which lately reach'd the Clouds!
Scarce are deluded Papists pleas'd so much,
When their blest Robes retain some Idol's Touch.
Not Seamen more, from Nile, or Ganges' Coast,
Or Plata's Shores, their sar-fetch'd Treasure boast.
But if the Line by some Misfortune breaks,
Her lofty Seat the prone Machine forsakes,
In many a giddy Vortex whirl'd around,
Like Icarus swift rushes to the Ground
All torn, the anxious Troop about her throng,
And weeping bear the shatter'd Frame along.
While all to view each gaping Breach are griev'd,
As if themselves had every Wound receiv'd.
And as their Hands the shipwreck'd Bird repair,
Some blame the Architect, and some the Air.
But if supported by a gentle Breeze,
She glides serene, and rises by Degrees,
Far as the Line permits, she still ascends,
Till in the Clouds her lofty Voyage ends:
Beyond our narrow Ken, will dare to soar,
Where never ventrous Bird has reach'd before.
Now swift on wavy Wings descending slow,
She's kept from headlong Flight by Guides below;
Then with a gentle Fall salutes the Earth,
Caress'd by puny Bands with shouting Mirth,
Their infant Accents ring from Field to Field,
As when glad Victors tatter'd Ensigns wield;
While fair their curled Locks in Breezes flow,
And smiling Blushes in each Aspect glow.
O happiest State of Life! bright Spring of Youth!
Fair Period, fraught with Innocence and Truth.
Of golden Æra's, and Saturnian Times,
Let Poets story in romantic Rhimes,
This Age, if any, is the Age of Gold,
Ere thrice five Winters have their Circles roll'd.
No Flames of Love, nor Wine their Breasts annoy.
No Cares of Business interrupt their Joy:
In soft Amusements, and the Sweets of Play,
The thoughtless Chorus spend the shining Day;
To grateful Sports, as grateful Books are join'd,
And Study's made a Plaything to the Mind.
Man's Life in its first Bud still fairest shews,
As Orchards in their Bloom most Sweets disclose.
Sometimes a Scene more wondrous feasts the Sight,
When the mechanic Bird is rais'd by Night.
For in a Paper Orb by Artists made,
With dextrous Skill a Candle is convey'd;
Tied to the Tail the pendant Lanthorn glows,
And, mounting, lights its Passage as it goes.
The Kite remote soars in a Path unseen,
While the bright Tail far-stretching hangs between.
Thus Jupiter we see in Light array'd,
While his attending Moons are hid in Shade.
Still Comet-like it sweeps, erratic Fire,
And Crouds beneath the floating Blaze admire.
The country Swains who at a Distance gaze,
Survey the painted Meteor with Amaze,
Quote from old Almanacs portentous Times,
Spell future Ills, and ponder former Crimes.
Partridge and mystic Moor are oft turn'd o'er,
And Bunyan brought to Light, ne'er seen before;
Some long ago these Wonders could foretel,
When Salt prophetic at the Table fell,
This Sight, blue Flame, and Hares which cross'd the Road,
This, Dreams presag'd, and Ravens us'd to bode.
But high the wavy Luminary shines,
Till the spent Taper droops, and sick'ning pines;
Thro' the dark Air the gilded Phantom flies,
And rustles like a Whirlwind down the Skies.
So with her Lamp the Muse ascends the Sphere,
Pleas'd in her little Orb to flutter there,
Till the dim Light expiring dies away,
Like the last Ruins of declining Day,
And thus descending with the Paper Kite,
With her alike concludes th'adventrous Flight.
Futuaris nisi irrisus ridebis.

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Post by Scottish Lady »

You're right - it did go on a bit, but sounds like a fun thing to do. We did something like that at an event on Mull this 'summer', during the middle of the night. The kite(s), consisting of 3 tents and a canvas shelter, which we were trying to hold down in the middle of a gale. No lights on them either!
Scottish Lady/The 'Meenister'

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Post by lidimy »

Lol - I love 18th C writing style! So extravagant, flourishing and confident...
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Post by Tod »

Obviously written by a bloke who didn't own a gun or have a mistress.

I say let the kids have a go. Not sure about the adults though.

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Post by Mark P. »

Perhaps there was a way to rig the kites to drop granades?
You could even do night time missions.
Range dependant on length of string.
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Post by Redders »

O.o Someone mention Grenades??? :shock:
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Post by Tod »

I'll siad to Richard that we COULD use grenades. Maybe we (you lot as in Redcoats) need to practice a bit first, under arm throwing hmmmm.

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Post by Matt_D »

I can distinctly remember doing grenade drill as part of the display a few times.

The nice thing with under arm throwing is you can get the bounce just right :shock:

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Post by steve stanley »

And if we built REALLY big kites,they could carry people who could drop grenades...But then the other side could build kites to intercept ours..But then we could come up with some sort of engine for ours...and maybe some type of musket that worked like a machine...and we'd have to wear goggles and scarves and..........
"Give me a tent and a kettle
Snowshoes and axe and gun
Send me up in Grand River
Steering by star and sun".
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Post by Lochinvar »

....it doesn't matter how many times they say 'Up, tiddly-up-pup!', they're still gits!

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Post by Andysmith »

Wot? The delicious Mairee Pawpins and Dick 'Mr Cockerney' Van Dyke?

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Post by peter large »

Wow Steve what are you on and can you bring smr to the next muster???[quote][/quote]
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