1772
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Melanchollie.

Town and Country Magazine 4 (June 1772) 325-26.

Anonymous


A clever imitation of Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso that reads Milton back through his source in Francis Beaumont's "Address to Melancholy" and the reply by William Strode. The poet back-dates his imitation, creating, in effect, a new, pseudo-Elizabethan source for Milton, complete with what appears to be a reference to the Despair episode in the Faerie Queene in the last stanza. The Town and Country Magazine had recently printed a number of poems by Thomas Chatterton, which might have been the inspiration here. While Beaumont's poem was not unknown, this exercise is really quite remarkable as an early attempt to capture the flavor of renaissance poetry.

Walter Graham: "The Town and Country Magazine (January 1769-December 1796), a very pretentious and successful serial, printed no less than forty contributions from the pen of Chatterton in 1769 and 1770, and then distinguished itself by refusing his Balade of Charitie, just before the author's death. It contained much to justify its subtitle, 'a Universal Repository of Knowledge, Instruction and Entertainment.' Besides articles on the British theater and the department of poetry which attracted the youthful efforts of Chatterton, articles on Pope's pastorals, on Pope's 'dispute' with Wycherley, on drama in England, on Rousseau, and on the works of Shakespeare, recommend it to the student of literature" English Literary Periodicals (1930) 180.



When I goe musing all alone,
Thinking of divers things sure knowne:
When I builde castles in the air,
Void of sorrow, and void of care,
Pleasing myself with phantasmes sweet,
Methinks the time runs verie sweet;
All my joyes to this are folly
None soe sweet as melancholy.

When I lye waking all alone
Thinking of divers things ill done,
My thoughts o'er me then tyrannize,
Fear and sorrow me surprize,
Whether I tarry still or go,
Methinks the time moves very slow;
All my joyes to this are folly,
Nought so sad as melancholy.

When to myself I act and smile,
With pleasing thoughts the time beguile,
By a brook side, or wood soe green,
Unheard, unsought for, and unseen,
A thousand pleasures do me bless
And crowne my soul with happiness;
All my joyes to this are folly,
Nought so sweet as melancholy.

When I lie, sit, or walk alone,
I sigh, I grieve, I make great moan,
In a dark grove, or irksome denn,
With discontents and furies, then
A thousand miseries at once
Mine heavy heart and soul entrance;
All my griefs to this are folly,
None so sowre as melancholy.

Methinks I hear, methinks I see
Sweet music, wondrous melody;
Towns, palaces, and cities fine,
Here now, then there, the world is mine,
Rare beauties, gallant ladies fine,
What e'er is lovely or divine:
All other joyes to this are folly,
Nought so sweet as melancholy.

Methinks I hear, methinks I see,
Ghosts, goblins, fiends, my phantasie
Presents a thousand ugly shapes,
Headless bears, black men, and apes,
Doleful outcries and fearful sight
My sad and dismal soul affright;
All my griefs to this are folly,
Nought so bad as melancholy.

Methinks I court, methinks I kiss,
Methinks I now embrace my mistress;
Ah! blessed dayes, ah! sweet content,
In Paradise my time is spent;
Let such thoughts still my fancie move,
So I may ever be in love:
All my joyes to this are folly,
Nought so sweet as melancholy.

When I recount love's many frights,
My sighs and tears, my waking nights,
My jealous fits, and mine hard fate,
I now repent, but 'tis too late;
No torment is so hard as love,
So bitter to my soul can prove:
All my griefs to this are folly,
None so harsh as melancholy.

Friends and companions get you gone,
'Tis my desire to be alone:
Ne'er well but when my thoughts and I
Do domineer in privacy;
No gem, no treasure like to this,
'Tis my delight, my crowne, my blisse:
All my joyes to this are folly,
Nought so sweet as melancholy.

'Tis my sole plague to be alone,
I am a beast, a monster grown,
I will nor light nor company,
I find it now my misery;
The scene is turn'd, my joyes are done,
Fear, discontent, and sorrows come;
Ah my griefs to this are folly,
None so fierce as melancholy.

I'll not change life with any king,
I ravish'd am, can the world bring
More joy than still to laugh and smile
In pleasant toyes time to beguile;
Doe not, ah! do not trouble me,
So sweet content I feel, I see:
All my joyes to this are folly,
None so divine as melancholy.

I'll change my life with any wretch
Thou can'st from jayle or dunghill fetch;
My paine past cure, another hell,
I may not in this torment dwell;
Now, desparate I hate my life,
Lend me an halter, or a knife:
All my griefs to this are folly,
Nought so bad as melancholy.

[pp. 325-26]