1752
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Fancy.

London Magazine 21 (August 1752) 377-78.

Mr. H.


In this imitation of Milton a besotted lover implores Fancy to bestow a vision of his beloved Monimia: "Grant all to me this live-long night, | Let charms detain the rising light; | For this one night my liv'ries wear, | And I absolve you for the year." Distraught when his Hymeneal vision dissolves, he begs for the ability to win his lady through poetical powers: "Let the melodious numbers flow | Pow'rful of a lover's woe, | Till, by the tender Orphian art, | I through her ear shall gain her heart." The poem verges on burlesque. The poem is signed "Mr. H."



Fancy, bright and winged maid!
In thy night-drawn car convey'd,
O'er the green earth, and wide-spread main,
A thousand shadows in thy train,
A vary'd air-embody'd host,
To don what shapes thou pleasest most;
Brandish no more thy scorpion-stings
Around the destin'd couch of kings;
Nor in rebellion's ghastly size
A dire gigantic spectre rise:
Cease, for a while, in rooms of state
To damp the slumbers of the great;
In merit's lean-look'd form t' appear,
And hollow traitor in their ear:
Or freedom's holier garb bely,
While justice grinds her ax fast by:
Nor o'er the miser's eye-lids pour
The unrefreshing golden show'r;
Whilst, keen th' un-real bliss to feel,
His breast bedews the ruffian steel.

With these, (when next thou tak'st thy round)
The thoughts of guilty pride confound:
These swell the horrors and affright
Of conscience' keen-condemning night.
For this (nor, gracious pow'r! repine)
A gentler ministry be thine:
Whate'er inspires the poet's theme,
Or lover's hope-enliven'd dream.
Monimia's mildest form assume;
Spread o'er thy cheeks her youthful bloom;
Unfold her eyes unblemish'd rays,
That melt to virtue as we gaze;
That envy's guiltiest wish disarm,
And view benign a kindred-charm;
Call all the graces from thy store,
Till thy creative pow'r be o'er;
Bid her each breathing sweet dispense,
And robe in her own innocence.

My wish is giv'n: the spells begin;
Th' ideal world awakes within;
The lonely void of still repose
Pregnant with some new wonder grows;
See, by the twilight of the skies,
The beauteous apparition rise;
Slow, in Monimia's form, along
Glides to the harmony of song.

But who is he the virgin leads,
Whom high a flaming torch precedes,
In a gown of stainless lawn,
O'er each manly shoulder drawn?
Who, clad in robe of scarlet grain,
The boy that bears her flowing train?
Behind his back a quiver hung,
A bended bow across is flung;
His head and heels two wings unfold,
The azure feathers girt with gold.
Hymen! 'tis he who kind inspires
Joys unfeign'd and chaste desires.
And thou, of love deceitful child!
With tyger-heart, yet lamb-like mild,
Fantastic by thyself, and vain,
But seemly seen in Hymen's train;
If fate be to my wishes kind,
O! may I find ye ever join'd;
But if the fates my wish deny,
My humble roof come ye not nigh.

The spell works on: yet stop the day
While in the house of sleep I stay.
About me swells the sudden grove,
The wov'n arbourette of love;
Flow'rs spring unbidden o'er the ground,
And more than nature plants around.
Fancy, prolong the kind repose;
Still, still th' enchanting vision glows;
And now I gaze o'er all her charms,
Now sink transported in her arms.
Oh sacred energy divine!
All these enraptur'd scenes are thine.
Hail! copious source of pure delight;
All hail! thou heaven-revealed rite;
Endearing truth thy train attends,
And thou and meek-ey'd peace are friends:
Closer entwine the magic bow'r;
Thick rain the rose-empurpl'd show'r:
The mystic joy impatient flies
Th' unhallow'd gaze of vulgar eyes.
Unevy'd let the rich and great
Turmoil without, and parcel fate,
Indulging here, in bliss supreme,
Might I enjoy the golden dream:
But, ah! the rapture must not stay;
For see! she glides, she glides away.

Oh Fancy! why did'st thou decoy
My thoughts into this dream of joy,
Then to forsake me all alone,
To mourn the fond delusion gone?
O! back again, benign, restore
The pictur'd vision as before.
Yes, yes: once more I fold my eyes;
Arise, ye dear deceits, arise.
Ideas bland! where do ye rove?
Why fades my visionary grove?
Ye fickle troop of Morpheus' train,
Then will you, to the proud and vain,
From me, fantastic, wing your flight,
T' adorn the dream of false delight?
But now, seen in Monimia's air,
Can you assume a form less fair,
Some idle beauty's wish supply,
The mimic triumphs of her eye?
Grant all to me this live-long night,
Let charms detain the rising light;
For this one night my liv'ries wear,
And I absolve you for the year.

What time your poppy-crowned god
Sends his truth-telling scouts abroad,
Ere yet the cock to mattins rings,
And the lark, with mounting wings,
The simple village-swain has warn'd
To shake off sleep by labour earn'd;
Or on the rose's silken hem,
Aurora weeps her earliest gem;
Or, beneath the op'ning dawn,
Smiles the fair-extended lawn;
When in the soft-encircled shade
Ye find reclin'd the gentle maid,
Each busy motion laid to rest,
And all compos'd her peaceful breast:
Swift paint the fair internal scene,
The phantom-labours of your reign;
The living imag'ry adorn
With all the limnings of the morn,
With all the treasures nature keeps
Conceal'd below the foaming deeps;
Or dress'd in the rich waving pride,
That covers the green mountain's side,
Or blooms beneath the am'rous gale
In the wide-embosom'd vale.
Let pow'rful musick too essay
The magick of her hidden lay:
While each harsh thought away shall fly
Down the full stream of harmony,
Compassion mild shall fill their place,
Each gentle minister of grace,
Pity, that often melts to love
Let weeping pity, kind improve,
The soften'd heart, prepar'd to take
Whate'er impressions love shall make.
Oh! in that kind, that secret hour,
When hate, when anger have no pow'r;
When sighing love, mild simple boy,
Courtship sweet, and tender joy,
Alone possess the fair-one's heart;
Let me then, Fancy, bear my part.

Oh goddess! how I long t' appear;
The hour of dear success draws near:
See where the crouding shadows wait;
Haste and unfold the iv'ry gate:
Ye gracious forms, employ your aid,
Come in my anxious look array'd,
Come Love, come Hymen, at my pray'r,
Led by blyth hope, ye decent pair
By mutual confidence combin'd,
As erst in sleep I saw you join'd.
Fill my eyes with heart-swell'd tears,
Fill my breast with heart-born fears,
Half-utter'd, and only wish'd the rest;
Make sighs, and speaking sorrows prove,
Suffering much, how much I love;
Make the muses lyre complain,
Strung by me in warbled strain;
Let the melodious numbers flow
Pow'rful of a lover's woe,
Till, by the tender Orphian art,
I through her ear shall gain her heart.

Now, Fancy, now the fit is o'er;
I feel my sorrows vex no more:
But when condemn'd again to mourn,
Fancy, to my aid return.

[pp. 377-78]