1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Invocation to Madness.

Poetry, by Camisis.

Camisis


An imitation of Milton's Il Penseroso that emulates some of the effects in Collins's Ode to Fear: "I cannot play the weeping Man, | And truly pity those who can. | Come then and clad in Charms like these | MADNESS! thou shalt for ever please" p. 8. Thomas Penrose's popular Madness, in Flights of Fancy (1775) — itself an imitation of Collins — is likely also a source. The Invocation to Madness is the first of a sequence of allegorical odes in various measures composed in Collins's manner. It is followed by an Ode to Indifference: "INDIFFERENCE hence! I loathe thy listless Reign; | I loathe that torpid Power which lulls thy Soul" p. 8.

European Magazine: "The readers of the European Magazine will recollect some of the pieces contained in the present collectin to have originally appeared in this Miscellany. The entertainment they may have derived from the perusal of those which have been already published will not be diminished by those which now make their first appearance. They are poetical and pleasing; and exhibit the Author as a man of sensibility and observation. The Invocation to Madness, the first piece in the collection, may be compared with Mr. Warton's fine Ode on the same subject" 16 (September 1789) 172.



Far from my Sight ye Syren Train
That lull the Soul to sweet Repose;
Tis not for Me the Zephyr blows!
Tis not for Me Elysiums bloom!
To this cold Breast — a Breast that feels
The Anguish which it ne'er reveals—
To this cold Breast all Comfort's vain,
Save that which glows beyond the Tomb.
Can Friendship from my stubborn Heart
One Pang Extract, expel one Sigh;
Can tenderest Love one Hope impart,
Or draw one Tear adown mine Eye.
No — neither Pang, nor Sigh, nor Tear
(With me Life's Tragic Farce is o'er!)
Shall shame this Bosom with a Care,
I have felt once — I'll feel no more.

Oh Thou! whose potent Rage can bind
In torpid Chains the sensate Mind!
Whose wildly-penetrating Glance
Can Apathy itself entrance!
MADNESS! — I call thee from thy morbid Cell
Where thou delight'st to dwell,
Listening the fancied Sounds of hostile Feet
Invading thy Retreat;
Or if, more pleased, along the lonely Heath,
Whilst livid Lightnenings thro' the Gloom of Night
Flash horribly — an awful Sight!
Thou frantic wanderest in Pursuit of Death—
Leave for awhile those Scenes of Woe,
Awhile attend a Suppliant's Prayer,
And back retrace the flinty Road
That points out thy Abode,
There go—
And Lyssa! thou shalt find — yes, thou shalt find Me there.

Ha! what are these! the Victims of Despair!
Nature's sad Wreck! ye touch indeed my Soul!
Lo how they frightful rend their Hair!
Lo how their threatening Eye-balls roll!
And now the Flesh from off their Bones they tear,
Now Heaven itself blaspheme — now melt in fervent Prayer!
Say ye strange Forms that burst thus on my Sight,
Are yet the fleeting Shadows of a Dream?
Or are ye really what ye seem,
Ghastly Visions of the Night!
If such ye be avaunt! — Ah no!
For from your pale Lips trembling flow
Sounds which arrest the listening Ear
And stiffen every joint with Fear.
"We are no Visions of the Night,
Nor dost thou wondering Mortal dream,
For we are really what we seem.
Deep-pen't within this hollow Cave,
What Time infernal Darkness walks the Earth,
(To us forbid the Day's pure Light)
Compel'd we rise to second Birth;
Some to weep, and some to rave.
Some the galling Chain to wear.
Some to shed the burning Tear.
Some to lament a Lover lost.
And some — most piteous those — a first Affection cross'd."

Oh Thou! supreme of Earth and Skies!
Whose devious Orb of Thought to Scan
Is far beyond the Power of Man;
Oh say from whence those cruel Transports rise!
Say from what Source that Something flows
Which thus commixing Joys and Woes,
Instills into the maniac Breast
The eternal Pang of Laethean Rest.
For trust me, tis a fearful Sight
To see discordant Passions thus unite!
Pleasure and Pain alternate reign,
And each by Turns possess the maddening Brain.
Quick from m' averted View begone!
Or thou will glare my very Soul to Stone!
Yet come! ah come! in milder Garb array'd,
Such as — when at Death's pale Behest
The Lover of some hapless Maid
'Mid fondest Wishes sinks to Rest—
Such as befits the widdow'd Mate to wear;
Who pensive o'er the moon-light Plains
What time the Evening Silence reigns,
Wanders forsaken, dropping many a Tear
For Him — the chosen of her Heart!
Oh then! in bitterest Agony of Thought,
Of visionary Love she feels the Smart,
And the surrounding World to her forlorn! is Naught!

Yes — in this sacred Garb array'd
Come, and I'll clasp thee to my Heart.
In thy calm Sufferings bear my Part,
Till Life and all its Vanities shall fade!
Thy devious Steps my devious Steps shall trace,
Thy troubled Soul my troubled Soul embrace;
For ah! to Me, nor yet has Peace
Dispens'd a Moment's inward Ease!
Nor yet has flown to my Relief
The Tear that drinks up every Grief!
But stamp'd by Nature with a Mind
To selfish Sorrow all resign'd,
And scarcely daring to repose
Ev'n in ELIZA'S Breast my Woes,
Though well that Breast has learnt to join
Its softer Sympathy with mine—
I cannot play the weeping Man,
And truly pity those who can.
Come then and clad in Charms like these
MADNESS! thou shalt for ever please.

[pp. 3-8]