1800 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Vision of Fancy.

The Harp of Erin, containing the Poetical Works of the Late Thomas Dermody. In Two Volumes. [James G. Raymond, ed.]

Thomas Dermody


Ten Spenserians: an imitation of Milton's L'Allegro in which Spenser, Otway, and Shakespeare appear in a catalogue of poets. Thomas Dermody's Irish fairies make one of their frequent appearances in this poem: "O! there, methought, with Spenser I convers'd, | Spenser who sung their rights with magic reed."

John Wilson: "It would seem, that so divine is the nature of the stanza, that even mediocre poets, with a fair or fine ear, become inspired beyond themselves, 'even by the sounds themselves have made;' and that almost any lyre sends pleasant music from its strings, however even unskilfully constructed on the model of Spenser's, and struck by no master's hand, but even the clumsy fingers of a journeyman, or the feeble ones of an apprentice" Blackwood's Magazine 36 (1834) 421.



Sir Chanticleer has thrust his red crest high
From vetchy bed, and wound his bugle shrill:
Night sinks her ebon chariot from the sky,
And infant morn peeps blushful o'er the hill.
The white-sleev'd mower sweeps with scythed skill,
The rosy-featur'd milkmaid loads her pail,
The twitt'ring swallow skims the vernal sill,
The herald blackbird bids Dan Phoebus hail,
And blue-ey'd Pleasure wakes her dryads in the dale.

To mellow flute by lively touch address'd,
And tinkling tabour trip the merry fays;
And wanton wile, shrewd wit, and jocund jest,
With revel quaint, disport ten thousand ways,
All by a stream whose crisped current plays
Melodiously the pebbles smooth among:
Perdye, not minstrelsye of Arthur's days,
Nor elfin tournament, Arcadian throng,
Could nearly vye with sports to this blythe troop belong.

There might the rainbow spread its dyes in vain,
And all-abash'd before their glories fade;
For Tyrian hue, or Melibean stain,
Could nought adorn. Bright Fancy, matchless maid,
In filmy pearls her helmet sheen array'd,
With lucid eyes of toad her shield emboss'd,
Her golden tresses gleaming o'er the shade,
Lo, lo! the Empress comes; in wonder lost,
My swimming eye-balls dance, and worldly care is lost.

Fast by her side, begirt with buskins green,
Her cheeks envermeil'd with the peach's bloom,
Hies heav'nly Health: around the luscious scene
She looks, and sweetly sprinkles wild perfume;
Towards the heath, towards the auburn broom,
She leads her well-breath'd terriers: hark! they tell
In tuneful notes the villain Reynard's doom;
Reynard, who bids his native haunts farewel,
While echoing Transport shouts and bursts the vocal dell.

"Hark, hark! to cover," the loud huntsman cries:
"Hark, hark! to cover," mimic echoes sound:
"Hark, hark!" the copse thro' all its branches sighs,
And "hark!" the distant vales with glad rebound.
Aerial music floats o'er all around:
The silver-sliding lapse of ling'ring wave,
The cheering shout, the serenading hound,
All, all, dispel the spleen, the vapours grave,
And rouse the hoary carle from his dismantled cave.

Here too, when Eve, in faery vestments clad,
Usurped the cloudless empire of the sky,
Weaving the blue serene with shadows sad,
Meanwhile the beams from Hesper's brilliant eye
Enamell'd the bright tapestry of the sky;
Ev'n here, where pointed lustres trembling play,
The chequer'd bosom of the lake heav'd high,
Would fairest Fancy close the sober day,
While night-flow'rs, mildly coy, their pensive sweets display.

How oft, when stretch'd all careless on some bank
Where the brisk stream forsook its flow'ry grave,
Dawning to life, with dews ambrosial dank,
I warbled numbers to each warbling wave,
Numbers that bounteous Nature artless gave!
I heard the silvery alders whisper low,
Poor Philomel in dying dirges rave;
I saw, majestic Queen, thy gorgeous show,
And moonlight silent sunk with an unusual glow.

Twinkling their light heels to the lunar ray,
In antic morrice danc'd thy tiny band,
Each crown'd with garlands from the jasmine spray,
And each a wreath of vi'let in his hand,
Varying each feature; while the yellow sand,
With little footsteps etch'd, breath'd odours round,
And springing amaranths flung incense bland!
Delicious mysteries of faery ground,
Myst'ries belov'd that erst my cradled visions crown'd!

O! there, methought, with Spenser I convers'd,
Spenser who sung their rights with magic reed;
And tender Otway, too untimely hers'd,
Wont with fond pangs to bid my soft heart bleed.
There Shakspeare, wond'rous seneschal decreed,
Who read each potent meaning of each spell,
In glory garb'd my willing foot would lead,
And in low gales his solemn genius tell.
Ah, dear delightful guests, ah, evermore farewel!

But now the busy village-hum is heard:
Shy Fancy frighted quits the noon-day crowd;
The chanting trav'ller scares the dappled herd,
And the shrill lark retires to verdant shroud.
This world, and all its creatures, are abroad:
Fancy's own fav'rite bird, the linnet, flies.
Then cease to tune thy lay, O muse! aloud,
Or spread thy tissued dreams to vulgar eyes;
None but the minstrel shares the minstrel's ecstasies.

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