1794
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Visionary.

Gentleman's Magazine 64 (January 1794) 67-68.

Mary Locke


An imitation of Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso signed "Miss Lock, Steeple Aston, Jan. 7, 1794." This is presumably Mary Locke, author of Eugenius, or Virtue in Retirement (1791) about whom nothing appears to be known. The Visionary is in three parts, with a long prologue in the then-fashionable gothic manner, followed by imitations of L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, concluding with the resolve to dwell with "Sacred, musing, Melancholy."

The prologue, with its fantastic ruin, contains an imitation of the Despair episode from the Faerie Queene; the poet wanders "Where the green pool, begirt with reeds, | Half choak'd with matted grass and weeds, | Loads the thick air with vapours foul, | Where flits the bat, where shrieks the owl, | There Suicide, in grim despair, | With hurried hand, and frantic air, | Grasps first the steel, then poison's bowl, | Wildly his fiery eye-balls roll | And now he tears, and bites the ground, | While hell-born Furies dance around" p. 67.



Away ye gayer scenes, away,
The smiling morn, the garish day;
Vanish, thou blazing lamp of light,
And bring me black congenial Night.
Envelop'd in her gloom, I love
Through long resounding ailes to rove:
Beneath the dome then lie reclin'd,
And feel it tremble to the wind;
Hear the wide scatter'd fragments fall
From rifted arch, or crumbling wall;
While Madness, in fantastic state,
Unconscious of impending fate,
Beneath the tott'ring ruin sits,
And laughs, and weeps, and sings, by fits;
Bares to the winds his ghastly form,
And courts the horrors of the storm.
Ah! while with devious steps I tread
These awful mansions of the dead,
What hideous shapes arrest my feet,
What beck'ning ghosts my name repeat?
They cease; a death-like silence reigns,
Freezing the blood within my veins.
In this great world am I alone?
O! for some sigh, some dying groan!
Ye thunders, roll! thou firm earth, shake,
With any sound this silence break.
Hence let me haste: ah! whither fly!
Horror, Despair, and Death, are nigh,
For in yon vale, where baleful yews
Drink and retain Night's sickly dews,
Where the green pool, begirt with reeds,
Half choak'd with matted grass and weeds,
Loads the thick air with vapours foul,
Where flits the bat, where shrieks the owl,
There Suicide, in grim despair,
With hurried hand, and frantic air,
Grasps first the steel, then poison's bowl,
Wildly his fiery eye-balls roll;
And now he tears, and bites the ground,
While hell-born Furies dance around,
His agonies with joy descry,
Anxious to hear his parting sigh;
Then hurry him to shades below,
To unquench'd fire and endless woe.
While in yon cavern's depth profound,
Whose vaults with clanking chains resound,
Of things unclean the dark abode
The curling snake, the loathsome toad,
Dwells Horror, with a ruffian brood:
Lust, Rapine, Murder, drench'd in blood.
In heaps the mangled corses lie,
The fume of gore ascends on high,
The raven pauses on his way,
And scents with joy his destin'd prey.
What sounds terrific strike mine ear!
What shrieks, what dying groans I hear!
O! bear me from such scenes away,
And bring me bright congenial day.

Come then, thou nymph of sprightly mien,
More beauteous than the Paphian queen,
In all thy animated glee,
Come blooming, young, Euphrosyne.
While Exercise, with sun-burnt face,
With nervous limbs, and manly grace,
Rous'd by the joy-inspiring hounds,
Fearlessly o'er each barrier bounds,
Stranger to Discord, Care, and Pain,
The happy son of Dian's train,
Come, jolly Bacchus, ivy crown'd,
And let the sparkling glass go round;
With festive dance, and joyous song,
Waft the swift-footed hours along.
By the dim taper's sickly light,
Let the Sage waste the tedious night;
And, turning o'er th' historic page,
The wisdom glean of ev'ry age:
But you, who bask in Pleasure's ray,
Live to enjoy the present day;
Let dull mortals fear to-morrow,
You have nought to do with sorrow,
Then let me share your jollity,
And follow gay Eurphrosyne.
But, ah! when rosy youth is fled,
And Time has silver'd o'er my head,
Say, will she then her pow'r display,
And gild with joy life's closing day!
Ah! no, she like the world will prove,
And shun, when most I need her love.
Adieu to all her fleeting charms,
A nobler theme my bosom warms.

Come, sober Eve, in meekness drest,
Parent of silence, peace, and rest:
And then, with eyes uprais'd to Heav'n,
With stately pace, sedate and even,
Pride of Wisdom, scorn of Folly,
Sacred, musing, Melancholy:
And thou, sweet songstress of the night,
Who shun'st the busy glare of light,
O Philomel, thy strains prolong,
And calm my sorrows with thy song,
For thou, sweet bird, perhaps, like me,
Hast felt the pangs of misery;
Perhaps, unfriended an forlorn,
Hast sigh'd through life's disastrous morn;
Mine wore the garb that April wears,
A little sunshine, many tears.
Here safe within this hallow'd shade,
Which forward Guilt dares not invade,
With Melancholy let me dwell,
And bid the busy world farewell.
What though, within this calm retreat,
The heart with joy no more may beat,
Yet treach'rous Scandal comes not hear,
To draw from Beauty's eye the tear,
To rend that heart with throbbing woes,
Where Truth and Innocence repose.
Let the presumptuous sons of Pride
My unambitious choice deride;
Their gilded domes, that tow'ring rise,
I never view with envious eyes.
Alone, unseen, I love to rove
Through this retir'd umbrageous grove,
Where scarcely breathes the whisp'ring wind,
And all conspires to fill my mind
With meditations calm and holy,
Becoming thee, O Melancholy.
To thoughts that harrow up the soul,
To mirth, impatient of controul,
Gladly I bid a last farewell,
With thee alone I mean to dwell.
Pride of Wisdom, scorn of Folly,
Sacred, musing, Melancholy.

[pp. 67-68]