1804
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Reign of Fancy. Canto II.

The Reign of Fancy, a Poem, with Notes. Lyric Tales, &c. by the Author of the "Pleasures of Nature."

David Carey


In the second canto geographical associations predominate. Fancy renews her song: "O, happy ye, in green sequester'd vales | Which no rude blast of Misery assails" p. 62. The goddess bids the wicked passions fly, and resumes the series of narrative fragments at the end of the previous canto, now illustrating the power of contemplation to assist the virtuous: "Borne on light step their airy way they win, | Heaven's gates unclose! — the happy enter in" p. 72. The power of love is manifested in gentleness in a Thames landscape, and in sublimity in a Welsh landscape alluding to Gray's The Bard: "Mona! thy mystic rites the dead convoke | From hollow glade, brown heath, and rifted oak. | They come! they pass in slow procession by, | While on each lip unutter'd accents die" p. 76. The poem passes to the Switzerland of Tell, Gesner, and Lavater.

The mountain-scene shifts to Italy, bloodied by Napoleon's war, illustrated in the story of Alvarro and his daughter: "my child! this sabre then receive, | 'Tis all thy dying father has to give. | It slept not, O my Daughter! in the sheath | When Honour call'd to freedom or to death" p. 84. The effects of ambition are illustrated by the complicated miseries of war: "O stay, Barbarian! stay thy mad, career, | Hear, Son of Earth! and profit as you hear" p. 90. Amidst the carnage, however, Christians are fortified by the hope of life after death. Fancy condemns skepticism: "Dim-sighted Mortals, keep the onward road, | But one step farther, and you find a God!" p. 92. The goddess concludes her oration with a call to humanity to repent and "live for Virtue, Happiness, and Heaven!" p. 94. The poet is overwhelmed by his returning melancholia, but concludes bravely, "Blest Power! when sinks in night yon glorious Sun, | And Nature dies, thy reign is but begun" p. 101.



O softly from thy blossom-woven bower
Thou breath'st the notes of fascinating power,
Sweet Nightingale! when Evening veils the plains,
And Silence lists the music of thy strains.
But sweeter far the tuneful accents fell,
When thus the GODDESS woke the vocal shell.

"When all the bursts of passion are no more,
And all the vanities of life are o'er,
Love rears his home beneath the greenwood tree,
And sage Experience bears him company.
So pours the torrent, with resistless force,
O'er many a mountain-precipice its course,
To lose itself at last 'mid fields and flowers,
Beneath the shade of solitary bowers.

"O, happy ye, in green sequester'd vales
Which no rude blast of Misery assails,
Whose happy hours on silent pinions glide,
Soft as the stream that laves the valley's side,
Where nor Ambition's guileful toils enslave,
Nor War, nor Guilt polluted banners wave,
But all the emulation is to, prove,
Sincerity of Friendship or of Love.

"Unwise, Ambition's slippery height to gain,
Or toil 'mid War's dread thunder on the plain,
Who leave the warblings of the vernal grove,
And all the sweet obscurities of love!
There, while the youth and village maiden stray,
At the soft, silent hour of closing day,
When harebells wear their robe of loveliest blue,
And Venus from her bright locks shakes the dew,
What dreams of bliss the lover's mind employ,
What fairy visions of connubial joy,
When Hymen to his fond delighted arms
Shall give the blushing maid with all her charms!
What pleasure sparkles in the virgin's eyes,
What soft emotions in her bosom rise,
Whilst there, to braid her locks, with pleasing wile,
He weaves the primrose wreath, and sings the while!

Sweet elfin hermit of the bower,
That lov'st, amid these shades so holy,
To blossom at the ev'ning hour,
Far from the haunts of noise and folly!

Thus, let me pull thy paler rose,
To deck my blushing true-love's bosom,
And wave, around the virgin's brows,
Than thee a lovelier, fairer blossom!

While thou thy dewy folds shalt spread,
To the lone star of twilight shining,
I still will love the beauteous maid
Round Whom my raptur'd arms are twining.

And though with wealth nor titles crown'd,
So blest we'll live, in love excelling,
If Happiness on earth is found,
She'll chuse our mansion for her dwelling.

"Yes! let them fly, the vicious and the vain,
Who scorn the pleasures of the lowly train.
Fly Sons of Riot! fly their humble pale,
Nor blast the fairest blossoms of the vale;
Join Folly's brood, and Pleasure's maudlin throng,
And hear and hang upon their syren song:
For well your natures, well your hearts agree,
Ye sons and daughters of impurity.
But when the soul shall quit this mortal part,
Hope not to mingle with the pure in heart:
Go and unite your bodies to the clod,
But hope not for a union with your God.

"'Leave not these shades, my child,' MATILDA cries,
While o'er her babe she bends with streaming eyes,
"Leave not these haunts of love and harmless glee,
For all beyond is guilt and misery.
For fairer scenes, when HENRY knelt and pray'd,
These bowers I left, an unsuspecting maid;
But soon he triumph'd in his guileful plan,
And I bewail'd the villany of Man.
And when the powerful hand of Death shall lay
This aching head beneath the cold, cold clay,
My spirit still shall haunt the well-known grove,
And fondly guard thee with a mother's love;
And arm with fortitude thy tender breast,
And sooth thee with the sweet song of the blest!

"'And pensive there should e'er thy father stray,
When the vain dreams of youth have pass'd away;
Hang mutely o'er thy lineaments so fair,
And think he spies MATILDA imag'd there,
While many a fond remembrance thou shalt wake,
And he shall love thee for thy mother's sake,
I'll glory in the reconciling kiss,
And smite the harp in ecstasy of bliss!"

"Thus gazes faithful Love, on foreign shores
When to his eye the pencil's aid restores
The form of her who charm'd his youthful years,
Whose rosy fetters still with pride he wears.
At every look new beauties still revive,
He gazes till the picture seems alive;
Dwells on the eyes that keen expression dart,
And closer clasps the semblance to his heart.
When the fair Sun of Joy has quench'd his beams,
Still o'er the mind what friendly lustre streams!
Still Recollection flashes on the soul,
As shoots the star light o'er the darken'd Pole;
And still sweet Mercy sheds a twilight ray,
To guide the weary wanderer on her way.

"Ah! who can tell what soothing hopes arose,
To point a period to LOUISA'S woes!
What pleasing, fond ideas of the past
Play'd round her brain, and linger'd to the last?
Whatever scenes, by Nature's hand array'd,
Lur'd the fair fugitive to seek a shade;
BOHEMIA'S wild-wood walks of deepest green
Were loveliest still of all the varied scene.
Now, while each object strange enchantment brings,
She sits her down by BRISTOL'S wizzard springs,
And weaves the royal robe at eve and morn,
And hangs the glittering trophy on the thorn,
And weeps with many a sadly-pleasing tear,
If chance her native accents meet her ear:
Spirits, that watch o'er beauty's fairest flower!
Ye snatch'd her from the tyrant grasp of Power;
Now round her tender limbs your mantles cast,
And shield her from the warring winter blast;
Drive from the lovely mourner's lowly haunt
Pale Poverty, and the dread spectre Want.
Spirits! is Pity's prayer preferr'd in vain?
A long delirium wanders o'er her brain.
Come from your clouds, on wings of mercy borne,
And snatch her from the world's ungenerous scorn!

"Mark where the weary Captive grinds his chain,
And asks relief of Heaven — nor asks in vain.
Is it a vision meets his tranced eye,
And bids the more than midnight darkness fly?
'Shake from thy tottering limbs these fetters vile,
And ope thy pond'rous jaws, O dark Bastile!'—
How glad he leaves behind his loathsome den,
And meets once more the looks of fellow men!
So, when the sacrilegious hand of Power
To Christian patience gave one torturing hour,
The prayer arose, breath'd ardent from the heart,
'Father of Mercies! yet thy aid impart
The work to perfect which thou hast begun,
For ah, not yet, Salvation's work is done!'
—Hush'd were the Day's tumultuous, loud alarms,
And the Centurion slept upon his arms,—
The massy portals hear his potent word,
They ope — he comes — the Angel of the Lord!
Pris'ner no more, — his bonds are burst in twain,
A miracle has broke the tenfold chain—
Follows the wondering saint his heavenly Guide,
And the broad gate, self-moving, opens wide:
'No vision this — no vain fantastic dream,—
Go forth — Salvation be thy glorious theme!'

"Lo! where the Lover, languishing, retires
To brood o'er unextinguishable fires,
Woos the still night, or distant lands explores,
Far from the Beauty that his soul adores;
In vain would Fortune keep her from his arms—
She rises glowing with celestial charms.
Gaze, eyes of love! with conscious triumph swim
O'er the warm cheek, projecting breast, and limb,
Till the faint spirit sink at last to rest,
And riot in the raptures of the blest.

"Vain pride of Rank! shalt thou attempt to bind
In Fashion's futile chains the subtle mind?
And, frowning Fortune! shall thy cold control
Bar the fleet passage of the kindred soul?
Congenial spirits! on impassive wing,
To fond Affection's willing arms ye spring,
Print on the lips Love's chaste connubial kiss,
Drink the warm sigh, and mingle into bliss.

"So, when Affection mourns the spirit fled,
Come, from the realms of joy, the fleeting shade;
Calls her sad sister from this transient scene,
And mingles many a fond caress between;
—Join their fair hands whose hearts before were join'd,
Rise on the viewless pinions of the wind,
While pealing from the clouds, full-ton'd and clear,
The song of Angels meets their ravish'd ear;
Borne on light step their airy way they win,
Heaven's gates unclose! — the happy enter in.

"Where, from her sea-girt throne, the Queen of Isles
Views in the wave her matchless form, and smiles;
When on the shore the setting splendors sleep,
And die along the Adriatic deep,
Why loves the youth, with streamers waving wide,
To catch the breeze and linger on the tide,
More than when on the bosom of the stream,
The star of day diffus'd his dazzling beam;
To beauty's ear those melting tones impart,
That banish sleep, and win the willing heart;
Like those aerial harpings from above,
That melt and mingle with the dreams of love?
Sure some kind Power, descending all serene,
Has breath'd a sweet enchantment o'er the scene;
Bade the winds sleep in silence on the main,
And bound the billows in her magic chain.
Sylphs, there exert your talismanic sway,
And breathe your souls into the votive lay.

"Thus oft, at the sweet hour of eventide,
Thames marks the dancing skiff, with conscious pride,
While Music quires the sweet symphonious strain,
Drop gently down to Richmond's hallow'd fane,
Where Echo bids her vocal glades prolong
The dulcet voice of lute, and lyre, and song;
While, haply, there some lovely village maid,
Who sings her sorrows to the secret shade,
Hangs with delight on every lengthening note
That floats on Ether's wave, or seems to float;
Sheds tears of tenderness, and sighs sincere,
Yet wonders whence the sigh, and whence the tear.
Angels of light, who linger from above,
Smile on their charge, and whisper — it is Love.

"To those that fain would fly the walks of strife,
Dear is the sweet simplicity of life:
The landscape rob'd in Nature's loveliest dress,
It speaks of quiet, and of happiness;
The wandering brook that bubbles from its source,
It talks of wisdom on its winding course.

"Such are the scenes the gentle mind approves,
When beauty smiles upon th' enchanted groves:
As each unfolds its robes of wavy light,
A new creation rises on the sight.
While the young Hours disclose, with baby hand,
Idalian sweets, to bless the happy land,
With plastic skill the fond ideas start,
And life and language to the scene impart.

"But loftier spirits loftier themes employ,
As kindred scenes inspire congenial joy.
Where SNOWDEN lifts to heaven his awful form,
And wraps him in the mantle of the Storm;
When the sad Genius, in his dusky car,
Shuts the red eye of each benignant star,
Or, to his chariot wheels the lightning binds,
Rides on the rack, and walks upon the winds;
What Druid-spells prevail? What daring hand
Awakes the magic harp of Mona's land?
'Tis he, the Bard, whose fascinating lay,
Sung to the Tempest, charms his wrath away.
Mona! thy mystic rites the dead convoke
From hollow glade, brown heath, and rifted oak.
They come! they pass in slow procession by,
While on each lip unutter'd accents die.
Son of the Lyre! revoke the powerful spell,
That each may slumber in his lowly cell!

"Thus, with firm step, confiding in his word,
Walk'd, undismay'd, the servant of the Lord,
Saw conscious terrors shake his holy hill,
And bow'd obedience to his sacred will.

"So oft, where, circl'd with his starry zone,
And seated on his adamantine throne,
The giant, ALPS, when roars the mountain storm,
Veils in the clouds the terrors of his form,
And rolls the shock of elemental war,
And shakes the trembling nations from afar.
He who, with flag of comet-blaze unfurl'd,
Waves his vast sceptre o'er a subject world;
Or lifts his diadem'd head and arm on high,
And hides the wan moon in the darken'd sky.
There, on the granite base of lasting fame,
Firm as thy soul, eternal as thy name,
To thee, immortal TELL! an altar stands,—
Rears its bold front, and looks o'er distant lands:
And there, to sooth thy shade, on heights sublime,
Swells in full peal the consecrated rhyme;
The breast of age forgotten ardour warms,
And infant bosoms thrill with wild alarms.
Hear from your tombs, ye brave! the son, the sire,
In Heaven's ear chaunt their mingled notes of fire.
The mountain strains of liberty resound,
And the loud voice of thunder peals around!

"In the still shade of academic bowers,
Where Gessner rov'd and twin'd unfading flowers,
Zurich's rapt sage with Virtue sits him down
To earn the holly wreath of true renown.
There, as he strives the lines of life to scan,
What wild associations crowd the plan!
Imagination there employs her art,
And reads the secret workings of the heart—
Sylphs! o'er Lavater's couch your pinions spread,
And bind the wreath of glory round his head.

"But lo! where boreal mountains cleave the skies,
What solemn scenes of shadowy grandeur rise!
Where the sad Seer shoots his prophetic eye
Through the dim embryos of futurity.
'Woe to the Nations of the peopled earth,
The Ministers of Vengeance are come forth:
Soon shall the demon, War, with flag unfurl'd,
Spread desolation o'er the subject world;
Murder shall lift her blood-polluted hand,
And Famine shall depopulate the land;
O'er fertile plains the gory tide shall run
Till mothers weep that e'er they bore a son.
The skies give tokens of the evils dire,
And shoot portentous, warning streams of fire;
On Heaven's wide plain the warrior host appears,
While corruscations lighten from their spears
Horsemen and horse are seen in armour bright,
That chace afar the raven-colour'd night;
They wheel — they meet — they close with arms that glow,
And dye with streams of blood th' eternal snow.'—

"So stood the Prophet, Messenger of God,
And warn'd thee, Zion, of th' avenging rod,
What time thy impious hands thou dar'dst to dye
In blood of followers of the Most High;
When swerving from the Lord, to luxury given,
Thy foul iniquities smell'd rank to heaven.
—'Twas then, with horrent brow and arms sublime,
He dar'd announce the forfeit of thy crime:
O see him stand! — his penetrating eyes
Mark the red delegates of wrath arise,
With them come War, and Pestilence, and Dearth,
And lay the Mighty level with the Earth.

"Yet, ere they wav'd their crimson ensigns high,
Their course was mark'd along the pathless sky:
The battle rag'd, — the heavens were flush'd with red,
Darkness beheld the sanguine toil, and fled;
The shooting stars were from their orbits hurl'd,
And lightnings seem'd to wrap inflames the world.

"They came. — But Zion where are now thy charms?
Fallen are the mighty and the great in arms!
Queen of the East! thy favour'd reign is o'er,
Jerusalem! thy glories are no more!

"Such ruin late in Ulva's vale was seen,
When gaunt Ambition show'd her hideous mien,
When War and Murder rul'd with baleful power,
Stain'd the pure stream and crimson'd every flower,
When all the rural Virtues sunk forlorn,
And meek-ey'd Pity mourn'd as Angels mourn.

"Thine was the loveliest of Italia's vales;
Sweet Ulva! where the modulated gales
Brought Health and Melody upon their wing,
And all the lavish incense of the Spring,
'Twas sweet to stray amid your blossom'd bowers
When Pleasure led the rosy-footed Hours,
And soft by sunny hill, or meadow gay,
The Shepherd's lute was heard, the Virgin's lay;—
'Twas sweet to stray, beneath the Moon's pale glance,
Amid the frolic mazes of the dance
When soft the Tabor's dulcet murmurs rose,
'Twas sweet! how sweet, the Lover only knows!
These, Ulva! whom the tears of love deplore,
These were thy charms, but these are thine no more.

"'Twas there, when the rude din of battle roar'd,
The good ALVARRO grasp'd the threat'ning sword,
— That oft in war, and flaming in the van,
Bore terror to the foes of God and Man—
Wip'd from his JULIA'S eyes the tears that fell,
Paus'd ere he took a sad farewell;
'Then dry these tears, my child, that fall in vain,
My JULIA, for we soon shall meet again:
Farewell, and when the Warrior's fire shall burn,
Prepare with smiles to greet our safe return!
Around him throng the youth of Ulva's side
With arms as yet in mortal fight untried,
But firm the inroads of the foe to bar,
Awe the proud heart, and stem the tide of war:
'No banner'd hosts have bow'd beneath this hand,
But, father, it is nerv'd to wield the brand!'
'These arms are yet unskill'd the lance to break,
But, father, we will die for Ulva's sake!'

"'Tis night, — the wild winds whistle o'er the heath,
And conscious darkness veils the field of death;
No more is heard the thunder's awful roar,
And the loud clang of arms is heard no more.
'Blazes the Warrior's fire along the hill?
Or was it but the shot-star's radiance chill?'—
She seeks the tented field, by phrenzy driven,
'Where art thou, Moon! and ye fair host of heaven?
Ah! who is he, in gory vest array'd,
Low on the funeral bed of honour laid?'
'And who is she who braves the nightly storm,
To balm with tears a father's bleeding form?
In vain, — my child! this sabre then receive,
'Tis all thy dying father has to give.
It slept not, O my Daughter! in the sheath
When Honour call'd to freedom or to death;
In the red field of fight it knew no pause
When Liberty and Virtue were the cause.'

'Give me,' she cried, 'the weapon of the brave,
The Virtuous see no terrors in the Grave;
Give me the brand that burning blaz'd on high,
ALVARRO'S child will like ALVARRO die.
'Tis mine! 'tis mine! this, Tyrants, sets me free,
And thus I purchase Heaven and Victory!—
I come,' she cried, and press'd his lifeless clay,
And their freed spirits sought the realms of day.

"Scenes of ideal Joy! to you we owe
The cup of bliss, the balm of many a woe—
From you the fond Enthusiast hopes to gain
That happiness he seeks on earth in vain:
But ah! the lightnings of the truth intrude,
And flash upon his holy solitude:—
Sad sight! he strives with hermit steps to shun
The haunts of Guilt, where millions are undone.
Shall he 'mid northern snows fix his abode?
The northern snows are sullied o'er with blood!
Or to the gloom of Indian woods repair?
The hand of Desolation has been there;
There Nature has no barrier that can stay
The human Monster, lusting for his prey.
The native cries, as striving to escape,
'No brother he, but Demon in that shape!'
The Alpine wilds afford no spot to live;
The rocks of URI can no shelter give.
Where are they now, HELVETIA! where are they,
The wreaths you gain'd in SEMPACH'S glorious day?
—The arm of Tyranny was rais'd on high,
And sad, O Freedom! was thy bitter cry,
'Where are the terrible, the strong, the brave?
Is there no ear to hear, no arm to save?'—
The bold asserters of the rights of man,
Arm in her injur'd cause and lead the van,
—Darkens the dreadful front of awful war—
Rolls on Oppression's desolating car
Full on the bulwark of the frowning few—
—Gleams the dread sabre — twangs the bow of yew!
Shall Valour at a Despot's frown retire,
Life cease to warm, and Liberty expire?
No! — foes of Virtue, from each VITAL URN
Ye roll the stream that never shall return!
'They yield!' re-echoes thro' each rank, they yield!'
And Freedom's altars smoke on Slaughter's field!
Where are they now, HELVETIA! where are they—
The Wreaths you gain'd in SEMPACH'S glorious day?
Fallen is the column — fallen thy proudest boast,
Thy honour stain'd — thy independence lost!

"Perhaps e'en now some saddening son of thine,
Lone lingering near some cliff where torrents shine,
Laments the hopes that led his steps to roam
Far from the joys that bless his social home,
And haply too those strains are heard to flow,
That told of pleasures ere he shar'd of woe,
Fair as the opening promise of his youth,
But, ah! they vanish'd at the voice of Truth.
Sweet sounds! your magic melody disarms
Fate of its darts, and War of its alarms.
He seems to tread those well-known haunts anew
Where first the buds of expectation blew;
Where yet he hopes, when all his toils are past,
His little family to join at last,—
But finds, returning to his native shore,
His home profan'd, his family no more—
And every joy that bless'd life's happier day,
Swept by the Spoiler's lawless hand away.
O'er these shall Pity shed Compassion's tear,
—The pulse of Indignation throb to hear—
But will not Policy like Conscience blame?
And will not the Philosopher exclaim
'O! fond to mingle in the bloody toil,
Fool, fool, to leave untill'd thy native soil,
Where, though but scanty be her simple store
Nature has given enough, but given no more,
—To chace the fleeting phantom of renown,—
Fight all the wars of Europe but your own,
Be hardy, active, vigilant, and brave,
Set nations free, and be yourself a slave?'

"The laurel wreath Ambition views from far,
Waves baleful o'er the bleeding ranks of war,
The sword Ambition draws, the prize to gain,
Is crimson'd with the life-blood of the slain:
The damned spots that stain the sword, the bay,
Hands shall not cleanse, nor tears shall wipe away.
Man! in thy search for fortune or for fame,
These but the means, is happiness thy aim?
O stay, Barbarian! stay thy mad, career,
Hear, Son of Earth! and profit as you hear:
Tear from thy guilty brow the baneful wreath,
Won by Deceit, or reap'd in fields of death.
Dash from thy hand the sword that thirsts for gore,
With the heart's blood of millions crusted o'er,
And learn the sickle or the prong to wield,
And plough your Saban, your paternal field;
And there, O Liberty! beneath thy shade,
While far around thy fostering branches spread,
Live wisely, happy, independent, free,
And guard, with Dragon eye, th' Hesperian tree.

"When realms with realms unhallow'd warfare wage,
Why should the virtuous dread their hostile rage?
Or trembling sit, the ills of life to rate,
And bow beneath the tyranny of fate?
Let fortune frown! let rankling cares annoy,
And vainly strive to mar the springs of joy!
'Tis theirs to trace, what Memory endears,
A fairer Chronicle of happier years!
Nature shall slumber on the lap of rest,
And Hope shall shed the visions of the blest—
Hark! 'tis the animating voice of Faith,
The Christian's hope, that triumphs over Death:
'O, tell me not that, when this breath is o'er,
The spirit sleeps in death, to wake no more;
That this fair frame Corruption shall destroy,
And never, never wake to life and joy:
Nor love's, nor friendship's holy fires relume,—
They died long ere the slumber of the tomb;
That hope was but a phantom of the brain,
And all the yearnings of the heart were vain.
'Tis false! the sophist dreads his gloomy lore,
And dies a convert when he can no more.
This form, which lives to triumph o'er the grave,
Some Power intelligent existence gave.
Who bade yon glorious orbs through ether roll,
Gave light, and heat, and still supports the whole?
They rose — they shine, — they own some potent word—
Why not the voice and right hand of the Lord?
Dim-sighted Mortals, keep the onward road,
But one step farther, and you find a God!

"O, Heavens! what glories on my vision stream,
Of dazzling brightness and eternal beam;
Can this be he, on Calvary's hill who bled,
Who had no where on earth to lay his head;
Wept tears of blood that I might never weep,
And slept in death that I might never sleep?
I hear the halo'd saint's triumphant strain,
That tells that 'he who dies shall live again.'
Transporting thought! and shall such joys be mine?
And, O! shall I with such perfection shine?
Who sees and sighs for sublunary bliss,
Who would not die ten thousand deaths for this;
Souls of the just! who at his footstool meet,
Cast, cast your crowns of glory at his feet.
My soul, long harass'd in this mortal strife,
Pants like the hart to taste the streams of life:
When shall I pass the barrier of the tomb?
Father of Light! when shall thy kingdom come?
Away! why should the good man fear to die!
His witness is in heaven, his record is on high.

"Vengeance is mine. — Behold where, sad and slow,
Stung by Remorse with pangs of hopeless woe,
Guilt wanders on, to brood in pale dismay
'Mid kindred glooms, and shuns the eye of day.—
Who bids the ghastly spectre-train arise
In pomp of shade, and swim before his eyes?
Or if he courts thee, Sleep, with poppies crown'd,
Who wakes him with Archangel's pealing sound?
'O hide me, Earth, in thy sepulchral womb!
Ye Mountains, shield me from the wrath to come!'
O Man! can years of guilty joy bestow
Aught to atone for such an hour of woe?
In vain are Being, Reason, Conscience, given,
Then live for Virtue, Happiness, and Heaven!"—

The Goddess ceas'd, — and, soaring, took her way
To azure fields of empyrean day;
No more the warbling lyre, or choral swell,
Awoke the echoes of the list'ning dell;
Yet, still Attention hung upon the strain,
And the sad spirit mourn'd her flight in vain.

Such are the dreams that youthful fancy sees,
When nought but Virtue has the power to please,
When every plain the robe of beauty wears,
And clad with down the path of life appears:
Ere yet Experience has dissolv'd the charm,
And all the heart's best energies are warm.
—Then on the young Imagination press
Visions of Glory and of Happiness!
But ah! the dear delusions will not stay
To bless, with lingering light the closing of the day.

Thus, when Thalia's mirror holds to view
The magic scenes a Shakespear's pencil drew;
Whether Ophelia finds a watry bier,
Or mourns an outcast sad, complaining Lear;
Or hapless Desdemona draws the sigh;
Or Banquo stalks in gloomy grandeur by;
The captive soul with generous sorrow mourns.
Fear thrills the breast, or Indignation burns;
We melt with love, or pity's sacred dew,
Live o'er each line, and think the vision true:
But forc'd, Reality, thy frowns to meet,
We sigh, — and ask why Truth is not so sweet.

How dark, how wild, the way of life appears!
A vale of tears! O, a sad vale of tears!
Were not thy soft, thy soothing influence given,
O thou, the keeper of the dreams of heaven!
But shed thy light, O Fancy! on the scene,—
And Pleasure, Love, and Joy shall gambol o'er the green.

Blest Power! though Misery dash the cup of Joy,
And sad Reality our bliss destroy,
Triumph inhuman War, with flag unfurl'd,
Leave not the world! leave not th' ungrateful world!
Leave not the world! for O, from thee must flow
The balm of bliss that heals the wounds of woe!

O! not with terrors of avenging ire,
And wrapt in gloom, my dreamy mood inspire:
But, Goddess, still such blissful visions pour,
Soft on my slumb'ring and my waking hour,
As taught the pulses of my heart to play,
When dawn'd, O life! the morning of thy day,
'Mid scenes remember'd with sensations dear—
With Mem'ry's sigh, or Mem'ry's gushing tear;
When Friendship bound me to my native plain,
And thou, Amelia, riveted'st the chain.

Led by thy fairy footsteps, o'er the green,
I yet shall visit every pleasing scene,
The well-remember'd scenes of infant play,
That oft have witness'd many a happier day:
Where, stretch'd upon the bosom of Repose,
My matin peal, my vesper anthem rose;
Where, while my breast no common transports prov'd,
I pour'd the lay that Nature's children lov'd;
Or, fond to trace the accustom'd circuit o'er,
By sunny dale, green glade, and sounding shore
Where, from the clif that beetles o'er the load,
The sea-pie screams in melancholy mood;
And where the mermaid loves her limbs to lave,
And from, her tresses wrings the salt-sea wave;
Or sings the melting notes so soft and sweet,
That sportive dolphins come to lick her feet;
Where rapt, inspir'd, I wave the song the while,
That gain'd Amelia's love, Amelia's smile:
Fancy! if thou a partial ear incline,
Though distant far, these joys shall yet be mine.
—O! if to meet no wore 'twas ours to part,
Come to my dreams, ye partners of my heart!
Visit my slumbers till the veil is drawn,
And thy long day, Eternity, shall dawn!

O, thou! at whose command I wake the lyre,
That glows with numbers of eternal fire,
Whose image flits, by day before my sight,
And in the silent watches of the night;
'Tis then that I shall clasp thee to my breast,
Amid the happy mansions of the blest,—
When wondering Nature feels the film decay
That clogg'd the sense, and dimm'd the visual ray;
And Truth, still prompt her influence to impart,
Confirms what FANCY promis'd to the heart.

With loveliest beams Night's sapphire arch adorn,
And ray your lustre round the throne of Morn,
Ye stars! that journey on the ethereal way
For ye are but the children of a day,—
Fair flowers that blossom on the plains of heaven,
Ope with the dawn, and fade at close of even;—
Squander your arrowy light a few short years,
And peal the mingled music of the spheres,
Ye planets! for ye soon must cease to roll,—
But thou art everlasting, O my Soul!
Life without end, — the spirit's last abode,—
Home of the just, — the bosom of its God,
This is thy portion, native of the sky!
Spread thy triumphant wings and mount on high.—
Blest Power! when sinks in night yon glorious Sun,
And Nature dies, thy reign is but begun.

[pp. 61-101]