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Sudden, the sombrous imagery is fled,
Which late my visionary rapture fed :
Thy powerful hand has broke the gothic chain,
And brought my bosom back to truth again;
To truth, by no peculiar taste confined,
Whose universal pattern strikes mankind;
To truth, whose bold and unresisted aim
Checks frail caprice, and fashion's fickle claim;
To truth, whose charms deception's magic quell,
And bind coy Fancy in a stronger spell.
Ye brawny Prophets, that in robes so rich,
At distance due, possess the crisped niche;
Ye rows of Patriarchs, that, sublimely rear'd,
Diffuse a proud primeval length of beard ;
Ye Saints, who, clad in crimson's bright array,
More pride than humble poverty display;
Ye Virgins meek, that wear the palmy crown
Of patient faith, and yet so fiercely frown ;
Ye Angels, that from clouds of gold recline,
But boast no semblance to a race divine ;
Ye Tragic Tales of legendary lore,
That draw devotion's ready tear no more ;
Ye Martyrdoms of unenlighten'd days;
Ye Miracles, that now no wonder raise;
Shapes, that with one broad glare the gazer strike,
Kings, Bishops, Nuns, Apostles, all alike !
Ye Colours, that the unwary sight amaze,
And only dazzle in the noontide blaze!
No more the sacred window's round disgrace,
But yield to Grecian groups the shining space.
Lo, from the canvass Beauty shifts her throne !
Lo, Picture's powers a new formation own!
Behold, she prints upon the crystal plain,
With her own energy, the expressive stain !
The mighty Master spreads his mimic toil
More wide, nor only blends the breathing oil ;
But calls the lineaments of life complete
From genial alchymy's creative heat ;
Obedient forms to the bright fusion gives,
While in the warm enamel Nature lives.
Reynolds, 'tis thine, from the broad window's
To add new lustre to religious light;
Not of its pomp to strip this ancient shrine,
But bid that pomp with purer radiance shine;
With arts unknown before, to reconcile
The willing Graces to the gothic pile,
THE PLEASURES OF MELANCHOLY. Mother of musings, Contemplation sage, Whose grotto stands upon the topmost rock Of Teneriffe ; 'mid the tempestuous night, On which, in calmest meditation held, Thou hear'st with howling winds the beating rain And drifting hail descend; or if the skies Unclouded shine, and through the blue serene Pale Cynthia rolls her silver-axled car, Whence gazing steadfast on the spangled vault Raptured thou sitt'st, while murmurs indistinct Of distant billows soothe thy pensive ear With hoarse and hollow sounds ; secure, self-blest, There oft thou listep'st to the wild uproar Of fleets encountering, that in whispers low
Ascends the rocky summit, where thou dwell'st
Remote from man, conversing with the spheres !
O lead me, queen sublime, to solemn glooms
Congenial with my soul ; to cheerless shades,
To ruin'd seats, to twilight cells and bowers,
Where thoughtful Melancholy loves to muse,
Her favourite midnight haunts. The laughing scenes
Of purple Spring, where all the wanton train
Of Smiles and Graces seem to lead the dance
In sportive round, while from their hands they shower
Ambrosial blooms and flowers, no longer charm.
Tempé, no more I court thy balmy breeze;
Adieu, green vales ! ye broider'd meads, adieu !
Beneath yon ruin'd abbey's moss-grown piles
Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of eve,
Where through some western window the pale moon
Pours her long-levell’d rule of streaming light;
While sullen sacred silence reigus around, [bower
Save the lone screech-owl's note, who builds his
Amid the mouldering caverns dark and damp,
Or the calm breeze, that rustles in the leaves
Of flaunting ivy, that with mantle green
Invests some wasted tower. Or let me tread
Its neighbouring walk of pines, where mused of old
The cloister'd brothers : through the gloomy void,
That far extends beneath their ample arch,
As on I pace, religious horror wraps
My soul in dread repose. But when the world
Is clad in Midnight's raven-colour'd robe,
'Mid hollow charnel let me watch the flame
Of taper dim, shedding a livid glare
O'er the wan heaps; while airy voices talk.
Along the glimmering walls ; or ghostly shape,
At distance seen, invites with beckoning hand
My lonesome steps, through the far-winding vaults.
Nor undelightful is the solemn noon
Of night, when haply wakeful from my couch
I start : lo, all is motionless around !
Roars not the rushing wind; the sons of men
And every beast in mute oblivion lie;
All nature 's hush'd in silence and in sleep.
O then how fearful is it to reflect,
That through the still globe's awful solitude,
No being wakes but me! till stealing sleep
My drooping temples bathes in opiate dews.
Nor then let dreams, of wanton folly born,
My senses lead through flowery paths of joy;
But let the sacred Genius of the night
Such mystic visions send as Spenser saw,
When through bewildering Fancy's magic maze,
To the fell house of Busyrane, he led
The unshaken Britomart; or Milton knew,
When in abstracted thought he first conceived
All heaven in tumult, and the seraphim
Come towering, arm'd in adamant and gold.
Let others love soft Summer's evening smiles,
As listening to the distant water-fall,
They mark the blushes of the streaky west :
I choose the pale December's foggy glooms.
Then, when the sullen shades of evening close,
Where through the room a blindly-glimmering gleam
The dying embers scatter, far remote [roof
From Mirth's mad shouts, that through theillumined
Resound with festive echo, let me sit,
Blest with the lowly cricket's drowsy dirge.
Then let my thought contemplative explore
This fleeting state of things, the vain delights,
The fruitless toils, that still our search elude,
As through the wilderness of life we rove.
This sober hour of silence will unmask
False Folly's smile, that, like the dazzling spells
Of wily Comus, cheat the unweeting eye
With blear illusion, and persuade to drink
That charmed cup, which Reason's mintage fair
Unmoulds, and stamps the monster on the man.
Eager we taste, but in the luscious draught
Forget the poisonous dregs that lurk beneath.
Few know that elegance of soul refined,
Whose soft sensation feels a quicker joy
From Melancholy's scenes, than the dull pride
Of tasteless splendour and magnificence
Can e'er afford. Thus Eloise, whose mind
Had languish'd to the pangs of melting love,
More genuine transports found, as on some tomb
Reclined, she watch'd the tapers of the dead ;
Or through the pillar'd aisles, amid pale shrines
Of imaged saints, and intermingled graves,
Mused a veil'd votaress; than Flavia feels,
As through the mazes of the festive ball,
Proud of her conquering charms, and beauty's blaze,
She floats amid the silken sons of dress,
And shines the fairest of the assembled fair.
When azure noontide cheers the dædal globe, And the blest regent of the golden day Rejoices in his bright meridian tower, How oft my wishes ask the night's return, That best befriends the melancholy mind! Hail, sacred Night! thou too shalt share my song: Sister of ebon-sceptred Hecate, hail ! Whether in congregated clouds thou wrapp'st Thy viewless chariot, or with silver crown Thy beaming head encirclest, ever hail !