1787
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Invocation to Melancholy.

European Magazine 11 (June 1787) 452.

Nerva


An imitation of Il Penseroso signed "Nerva." The poet proposes to Melancholy that "With thee I'll stray in musings slow, | Still moralizing as I go"; in the event the poem, after a conventional enough catalogue of rural sights, drifts towards a ruined castle and a lonely grave "Where never comes the trembling hand, | But phantoms rush upon his mind | Of goblins drear, and direful forms, | Or yelling ghosts that rule in storms."

Eleanor M. Sickels: "The haunts of melancholy seem to be of three sorts: mildly Miltonic, picturesquely romantic, and 'horrifically' Gothic. Of course all three types frequently occur in the same poem; nor am I able to seen any clear change of habit in this matter between the time when the Miltonic odes to melancholy became popular in the 1750's, and the time of Keats" Sickels, Gloomy Egoist (1932) 47.

Henry Headley had published a poem by this title in 1785.



Come, sober Melancholy, come,
Lead me to some religious gloom,
I love thy tresses black and brown,
That flow thy ivory neck adown,
Far more than her's whose flying foot
Wantons to the silver lute.
With thee I'll stray in musings slow,
Still moralizing as I go,
Thro' forest brown, or desart wild,
Where never wanton beauty smil'd;
Or where, from cloud-incumber'd steep,
A cataract pours with sounding sweep,
To swell some antient river's pride,
That spreads its crystal bosom wide;
Upon whose mossy margin green
The pensive Pleasures oft are seen,
In their silent devious way,
At early dawn, or twilight grey;
But most at eve, when just descry'd
Across the green the shadows glide;
When busy crowds their clamours cease,
And silence seeks the grot of peace;
While dew-drops fill the king-cup bell,
And in the copse soft breezes swell,
That never told a blushing tale
To pansie sweet or primrose pale.
From scenes of hurry let me steal,
Sublimer joys with thee to feel;
Where hinds, contented with their lot,
Raise here and there the lowly cot;
Where cares that vex the vaulted dome
With sleepless nights can never come.
Here graceful nymph, Simplicity,
Let me lov'd converse hold with thee;
As all dissolv'd in bliss I seem,
"Rapt in some wild poetic dream,"
Till in this flow'r-embroider'd bound,
I'm rous'd by distant sheep-bells sound;
Or voices which the echo mocks,
While culling simples from the rocks;
Or where yon elmy row embow'rs
That ruin'd castle's mouldering tow'rs;
Where many a gloomy dungeon drear
Has witness'd to the hopeless tear;
Or where that lonely turf-clad tomb
O'er worth was rais'd in early bloom;
Where Sorrow, ever-bending, wears
A crown of congelated tears;
A genius he, whose stubborn woe
At length impell'd the mortal blow;
Where never comes the trembling hand,
But phantoms rush upon his mind
Of goblins drear, and direful forms,
Or yelling ghosts that rule in storms.
There let me meditate — there stray,
Till the dawn wakes the cares of day.

[p. 452]