Seven Spenserians (the second irregular). In a brief fairy allegory the poet imagines her good Genius appearing at birth to ask her mother what boon she desires — beauty, wealth, fame? The mother asks instead that her child be led to the realms of Fancy, and so she goes, to return with the poetic wreath she now presents to her parent. Margaret Holford's mother (who shared the same name) was also a writer.
Scourge and Satirist: "Such verses as these are worthy of the best days of English poetry. To compare them with any stanzas in Gertrude of Wyoming, a poem which the combined puffing of the Quarterly and Edinburgh Reviews could not force into public favour is worse than affectation. Should Miss Holford 'write often thus, it would be vain to blame and useless to praise her'" 1 (April 1811) 332.
My Mother, thou hast not forgot the hour,
Tho' Time since then is far upon his way,
When youth and beauty crown'd thy bridal bow'r,
And on thy lap thy first-born infant lay
Catching the parting breath of lingering May,
Which, as it whisper'd o'er thy green alcove,
Gave life and freshness to the fervid day;
O'er thee the woodbine's flexile tendrils wove,
And wafted on thine ear the woodland song of love;—
Nor did the sportive zephyr, as it flew
Through vales where Flora's modest train repose,
Or the bright meadow spangled o'er with dew,
From Morn's first blush to Evening's fragrant close,
Fan with its wing, than thee, a fairer rose!
Such wert thou, when the natal Genius stood
Beside thy couch, and wav'd his wand, and smil'd;
His bright eye shed of light a glittering flood,
Half didst thou fear that aspect strange and wild,
As with immortal hand he touch'd th' unconscious child!
"Fear not," he cried, "my office is to bless!
Which of the toys, that mortals blessings name,
Shall deck thy babe? be thou the arbitress!
The gift be thine, of Beauty, Wealth, or Fame—
Mine be the task to grant, and thine to claim!"
Just then a crystal mirror on thine eye
Reflects a pallid cheek, a languid frame—
"See! Beauty flies the transient agony!—
I ask not for my babe what blooms so soon to die!
"And, Genius, well I know, that gold in vain
Swells the clos'd coffer, and encrusts the heart;
But, the sad vigil kept thro' nights of pain,
Grief's throbbing ulcer, Envy's rankling smart,
To lull and to appease, has Wealth the art?—
No; I would lead my child, where lurking care
Ne'er whets the sting, or brandishes the dart,
Would lead it to yon fairy region, where
No cloud obscures the day, no vapour loads the air!
"Where on the vivid flower no canker preys,
That decks the bank of glancing Hippocrene,
Where Fancy's rule the laughing realm obeys,—
Obedience mild, a willing meed I ween;
For who would rebel prove to such a queen!—
Be this the boon!" — The natal Genius smil'd,
Auspicious shone the guardian's brow serene,
"Go range," he cried, "the visionary wild,
Where fickle Fancy reigns, a wayward, wandering child!"
Since then, thro' every mountain, dell, or grove,
Wherever fountain gush'd, or murmur'd rill,
Fancy beheld her fondest votary rove
Her grassy glens, and climb each mist-crown'd hill;
And thus the 'tranced pilgrim wanders still;
And who would rudely break the enthusiast's dream,
Or vex with worldly cares that bosom's thrill,
As bending pensive o'er some wizard stream,
It ponders silently, the sweet, yet lofty theme?
Mother, how oft the lucre-loving sire
Commits his offspring to ungenial skies,
Sends him to burn beneath the tropic fire,
And waste far off his native energies,
To glad, with foreign gold, a parent's eyes!—
And has thy child a thriftless wanderer stray'd,
Bringing for thee no tributary prize?
Lo! at thy feet, a varied garland laid,
Of blossoms pluck'd for thee, from Fancy's flowery glade!