UD‘s mother used to quote the end of these lines a lot – every prospect pleases, / And only man is vile – because she thought the sentiment was funny, and because it seemed to apply to a lot of the places she found herself (UD recalls her reciting it one summer on a crowded Ocean City Maryland beach). UD finally checked the source of the lines – the notorious From Greenland’s Icy Mountains – and now sees that for Reginald Heber “vile” simply meant heathen…

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2 Responses to “‘What tho’ the spicy breezes / Blow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle; / Though every prospect pleases, / And only man is vile?’”

  1. JND Says:

    That was in our church hymnal when I was a child, although I don’t remember ever singing it.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    JND: It was for some time one of his most popular hymns, but eventually the hymn’s content began to scandalize people.

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