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With stories told of many a feat, :
How fairy Mab the junkets eat,
She was pinched, and pulled, she said,
And he by friars' lanthorn led,
Tells how the drudging goblin sweat,
To earn his cream bowl duly set,”
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn,
That ten day-labourers could not end;
Then lies him down the lubbar fiend, in
And stretched out all the chimney's length,
Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
And crop-full out of doors he flings,
Ere the first cock his matin rings.
Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
By whispering winds soon lulled asleep.
Towered cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold
In weeds of peace high triumphs hold,
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes!'
Rain influence, and judge the prize.
Of wit, or arms, while both contend
To win her grace, whom all commend.
There let Hymen oft appear,
In saffron robe, with taper clear,
And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
With mask, and antique pageantry;
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.
Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Jonson's learned sock be on,
Or sweetest Shakspeare, fancy's child,
Warble his native wood-notes wild.
1 These stories, it is almost unnecessary to say, formed a favourite amusement of the country people. Shakspeare has introduced several such folk-lore legends into his“ Midsummer Night's Dream."
2 Reginald Scott gives a brief account of this imaginary spirit much in the same manner with this of our author. “Your grand-dames
, maids, were wont to set a bowl of milk for him, for his pains in grinding of malt or mustard, and sweeping the house at midnight-his white bread and milk was his standing fee.” Discovery of Witchcraft; London: 4to. p. 66, Peck. See Keightley's Fairy Mythology, Art. Kobold.
And ever against eating cares,
Lap me in 'soft Lydian airs,
Married to immortal verse,
Such as the meeting soul may pierce
In notes, with many a winding bout
Of linkéd sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed, and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony;
That Orpheus' self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heaped Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto, to have quite set free
His half regained Eurydice.
These delights, if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.?
HENCE, vain deluding joys,
The brood of folly without father bred!
How little you bested,
Or fill the fixéd mind with all your toys !
Dwell in some idle brain,
And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess,
As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the sunbeams,* 1 The Lydian measure was very soft and sweet. So Dryden, Olo on St. Cecilia's Day:
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures,
Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures.". ? A charming adaptation from Shakspeare's “Nymph's Reply to the passionate Shepherd ":
“ If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my
love." 3 See note at the beginning of the last poem. The model of a great portion of this poem is a song in praise of melancboly, in Fletcher's Comedy of "The Nice Valour, or Passionate Madman."
4 Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale, ver. 868.
Or likest hovering dreams,
The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train.
But hail thou goddess, sage and holy,
Hail, divinest Melancholy,
Whose saintly visage is too bright
To hit the sense of human sight,
And therefore to our weaker view,
O'erlaid with black, staid wisdom's hue;
Black, but such as in esteem
Prince Memnon's sister might beseem,
Or that starred Ethiop queen” that strove
To set her beauty's praise above
The sea-nymphs, and their powers offended:
Yet thou art higher far descended;
Thee, bright-haired Vesta long of yore
To solitary Saturn3 bore ;
His daughter she (in Saturn's reign,
Such mixture was not held a stain).
Oft in glimmering bowers and glades
He met her, and in secret shades
Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
While yet there was no fear of Jove.
Come, pensive nun, devout and
Sober, stedfast, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Flowing with majestic train,
And sable stole of Cyprus lawn,
Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
Come, but keep thy wonted state,
With even step, and musiug gait,
And looks commercing with the skies,
Thy rapt soul sitting in thine
There, held in holy passion still,
Forget thyself to marble, till
i Son of Tithonus, by Aurora, and king of Ethiopia. He was slain by Achilles when coming to the assistance of Priam, at the siege of Troy.
Cassiopeia, wife of Cepheus, who, having dared to compare herself with the Nereids for beauty, was by them exposed to be devoured by a monster. Perseus, however, slew the creature, and obtained a place for Cassiopeia among the constellations.
3 The planet Saturn was supposed to exert much influence over persons of a gloomy and thoughtful temperament.
With a sad leadend downward cast
Thou fix them on the earth as fast:
And join with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,
Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet,
And hear the Muses in a ring
Aye round about Jove's altar sing ;
And add to these retiréd Leisure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure;
But first, and chiefest, with thee bring
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The cherub Contemplation;
And the mute Silence hist along,
'Less Philomel will deign a song,
In her sweetest, saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of night,
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke,
Gently o'er the accustomed oak;
Sweet bird that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!
Thee, chantress, oft the woods among
I woo to hear thy even-song ;
And missing thee, I walk unseen
On the dry smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wandering moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray
Through the Heaven's wide pathless way,
And oft, as if her head she bowed,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
Oft on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off curfew sound,
Over some wide-watered shore,
Swinging slow with sullen roar;
Or if the air will not permit,
Some still removed place will fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom;
Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the cricket on the hearth,
Or the bellman's drowsy charm,
To bless the doors from nightly harm :
1 So "leaden contemplation," in Shakspeare's Love's Labour Lost.
Or let my lamp at midnight hour,
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft outwatch the Bear,
With thrice great Hermes, or unsphere
The spirit of Plato to unfold
What worlds, or what vast regions hold
The immortal mind that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook :
And of those demons that are found
In fire, air, flood, or under ground,
Whose power hath a true consent
With planet or with element.
Sometime let gorgeous tragedy
In sceptred palli come sweeping by,
Presenting. Thebes, or Pelops' line,
Or the tale of Troy divine;
Or what (though rare) of later age
Ennobled hath the buskined stage.
But oh, sad virgin, that thy power
Might raise Musæus from his bower!
Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
Such notes as warbled to the string
Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek,
And made Hell grant what love did seek.
Or call up him that left half told
The story of Cambuscan bold,
Of Camball, and of Algarsife,
And who had Canace to wife,
That owned the virtuous ring and glass,
And of the wondrous horse of brass,
On which the Tartar king did ride;
And if aught else great bards beside
In sage and solemn tunes have sung,
Of turneys and of trophies hung,
Of forests and enchantments drear,
Where more is meant than meets the ear.
1 A constellation which never sets. Virg. Georg. i. 246.
2 ;. e. Mercurius Trismegistus.
3 Plato believed that every part of this universe was peopled with spirits, exereising medial functions between gods and men.
4 The long robe worn by distinguished persons in tragedy. Cf. Hor. Art. poet. 278.
5 i.e. representing. The subjects hero enumerated were favourite topics with the Greek tragedians.
See Chaucer's Squire's Tale, and Spenser's Faërie Queen, iv. 232.