1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Invocation to Fancy.

General Evening Post (12 September 1789).

William Hamilton Reid


An octosyllabic ode to Fancy in the manner of Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. William Hamilton Reid's Invocation takes a long excursion into Wales, notable for sublime landscapes and historical events: "Where erst, as ancient legends tell, | Glendower rais'd the Magic spell; | While storms and rifting thunders roar'd, | And on th' opposing legions pour'd." The poem terminates with a Spenserian alexandrine. In 1789 Reid was publishing verse in the General Evening Post on an almost weekly basis.



Oh Thou! whose daedal hand can chear,
Cimmerian vale, or cavern drear;
Or clothe the sandy desart wide
In all the gaudy summer's pride;
Or bid poetic shapes arise
Spontaneous to thy formful eyes;
Now let thy wonted influ'nce kind,
Fresh flowrets round my temples bind;
Obsequious then, the tuneful power
Shall ope thy consecrated bower;
And I with thee, all jocund, bound
By moon-light over Fairy ground,
Nor let me fail with Sol to climb
O'er Cambria's awful heights sublime,
Whence Nature strews, with fragments rude,
The ivy'd nooks of Solitude;
Where erst, as ancient legends tell,
Glendower rais'd the Magic spell;
While storms and rifting thunders roar'd,
And on th' opposing legions pour'd,
When Henry led his glittering rows,
With beamy spears, and auburn bows,
To crush, with unrelenting hand,
The Cambrian Chieftain's darling band;
That true to Freedom's guardian dear,
Bedew'd with large indignant tear
The slow-expiring beauteous child,
'Midst horrid rocks and fastness wild;
While high-born Hoel's lofty strain
Rang out to arms, to arms, in vain;
Till glory crown'd each parting shade,
That unsubmitting exit made;
Who, as the Heav'ns vindictive bow'd,
Soar'd upward on a dusky cloud.
Thus may each Muse's walk engage
The flush of youth, the frost of age;
Or those that heedless love to rove
Thro' winding vale or solemn grove;
Or listen to the hollow roar
Of winds, from wave-defying shore.
Oh Fancy! magic-breathing maid,
For this dispense thy richest aid;
Oh mingle with our mental rays
Thy vivid scene-exalting blaze;
And bind each Muse, whose ample wing
Drops odour on th' eternal spring;
Then shall the tuneful Artist reign
Supreme to vulgar joy or pain,
And call from latent cells around
Each passion to its kindred sound.
But when high themes his numbers swell,
With whirlwind force his living shell,
Shall prove its inspiration giv'n
To break the bands of Fate, and wing the soul to Heav'n.

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