As, musing, late I sat reclin’d,
And waking dreams absorb’d my mind,
A damsel came, of various dyes,
Like painted Iris from the skies;
A purfled saffron was her vest,
And sweet gum-cistus form’d her crest;
In many a playful ring, her hair
Flew light and flossy in the air;
The mantle, blue and gold, she wore,
A rose of opals held before,
While, graceful in her fairy hand,
Appear’d a crimson-tufted wand,
Whose shade on every object threw
A glowing tint of roseate hue.
“Whence art thou, blooming nymph?” I cried,
And thus a tuneful voice replied:
“Men call me Fancy; at my shrine
Myriads confess my power divine;
There painters bend the willing knee,
And laurell’d poets sue to me:
For mine is every vivid ray,
Which partial Nature gave the day;
And, to the music of my song,
A thousand nameless charms belong.
“The friend of Happiness, I dwell
Belov’d alike in court or cell;
Where Glory lifts her ardent eye,
With hasty, kindred zeal I fly,
In sun-beams place the hero’s form,
And bid his arm command the storm;
On swelling clouds an altar raise,
And fan the tow’ring flame of praise.
“Oft, from the lorn enthusiast’s lyre,
My fingers strike etherial fire,
And give to sounds of piercing woe,
Extatic rapture’s fervent glow.
Oft sooth the maniac’s throbbing vein,
And grace her simple, wilder’d strain;
The tribe of Pain in fetters keep,
Lull wounded Memory to sleep,
And, in the mind of gloomy Care,
Bid Thought an angel’s semblance wear.
“Dear to each blest aerial pow’r,
E’en Wisdom calls me to her bow’r;
My songs her leisure hours beguile,
And teach her holy lip to smile.
And, when the Muse, with thoughtful care,
Has woven chaplets for her hair,
I let her, with her myrtles, twine,
Full many a fragrant rose of mine.
“Then why, since all the wise and gay,
To me a grateful homage pay,
Since I to all my hand extend,
And, liberal, every heart befriend,
Does Nancy from the croud retire,
And rend my blossoms from her lyre?
Though every string the loss bewail,
And tones of mellow sweetness fail,
Which us’d to charm the pensive ear,
When list’ning Friendship bent to hear.
“Tell her I wish not to intrude
Upon her sacred solitude,
Nor cast my undulating chain,
Around her glowing heart again;
No! every claim I now resign,
Yet let some small regard be mine;
Let one, who nurs’d her infant years,
And wip’d away some bitter tears,
Still animate the scenes around,
And make her tread on fairy ground;
Give playful sweetness to each lay,
And decorate the passing day.
“Tell her, if now she scorns my strain,
She may invoke my name in vain;
In vain my proffered aid implore,
Contemn’d, I hardly pardon more.”
She said, and springing from the earth,
Attending found her suitor Mirth,
Who caught her hand, with lively air,
And plac’d her in his silver chair,
Which through the yielding ether flew,
And quickly bore them from my view.