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An ODE to FANCY.

1 FANCY, whose delusions vain
2 Sport themselves with human brain;
3 Rival thou of Nature's pow'r,
4 Can'st, from thy exhaustless store,
5 Bid a tide of sorrow flow,
6 And whelm the soul in deepest woe:
7 Or in the twinkling of an eye,
8 Raise it to mirth and jollity.
9 Dreams and shadows by thee stand,
10 Taught to run at thy command,
11 And along the wanton air,
12 Flit like empty Gossimer.
13 Thee, black Melancholy of yore
14 To the swift-wing'd Hermes bore:
15 From the mixture of thy line,
16 Different natures in thee join,
17 Which thou chusest to express
18 By the variance of thy dress.
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19 Now like thy sire thou lov'st to seem
20 Light and gay with pinions trim,
21 Dipt in all the dyes that glow
22 In the bend of Iris' bow:
23 Now like thy mother drear and sad,
24 (All in mournful vestments clad,
25 Cypress weeds and sable stole,)
26 Thou rushest on th' affrighted soul.
27 Oft I feel thee coming on,
28 When the night hath reach'd her noon,
29 And darkness, partner of her reign,
30 Round the world hath bound her chain,
31 Then with measur'd step and slow,
32 In the church-yard path I go,
33 And while my outward senses sleep,
34 Lost in contemplation deep,
35 Sudden I stop, and turn my ear,
36 And list'ning hear, or think I hear.
37 First a dead and sullen sound
38 Walks along the holy ground;
39 Then thro' the gloom alternate break
40 Groans, and the shrill screech-owl's shriek.
41 Lo! the moon hath hid her head,
42 And the graves give up their dead:
43 By me pass the ghastly crowds,
44 Wrapt in visionary shrouds;
45 Maids, who died with love forlorn,
46 Youths, who fell by maidens' scorn,
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47 Helpless sires and matrons old
48 Slain for sordid thirst of gold,
49 And babes who owe their shorten'd date
50 To cruel step-dames ruthless hate;
51 Each their sev'ral errands go,
52 To haunt the wretch that wrought their woe:
53 From their sight the caitiff flies,
54 And his heart within him dies;
55 While a horror damp and chill
56 Thro' his frozen blood doth thrill,
57 And his hair for very dread
58 Bears itself upon his head.
59 When the early breath of day
60 Hath made the shadows flee away;
61 Still possess'd by thee I rove
62 Bosom'd in the shelt'ring grove,
63 There, with heart and lyre new strung,
64 Meditate the lofty song.
65 And if thou my voice inspire,
66 And with wonted frenzy fire,
67 Aided by thee I build the rhyme
68 Such, as nor the flight of time,
69 Nor wasting flame, nor eating show'r,
70 Nor lightning's blast can e'er devour.
71 Or if chance some moral page
72 My attentive thoughts engage,
73 On I walk, with silent tread,
74 Under the thick-woven shade,
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75 While the thrush, unheeded by,
76 Tunes her artless minstrelsy.
77 List'ning to their sacred lore,
78 I think on ages long past o'er,
79 When Truth and Virtue hand in hand
80 Walk'd upon the smiling land.
81 Thence my eyes on Britain glance,
82 And, awaken'd from my trance,
83 While my busy thoughts I rear,
84 Oft I wipe the falling tear.
85 When the night again descends
86 And her shadowy cone extends,
87 O'er the fields I walk alone,
88 By the silence of the moon.
89 Hark! upon my left I hear
90 Wild musick wand'ring in the air;
91 Led by the sound I onward creep,
92 And thro' the neighb'ring hedge I peep;
93 There I spy the Fairy band
94 Dancing on the level land,
95 Now with step alternate bound,
96 Join'd in one continu'd round,
97 Now their plighted hands unbind,
98 And such tangled mazes wind
99 As the quick eye can scarce pursue,
100 And wou'd have puzzled that fam'd clue,
101 Which led th' Athenian's unskill'd feet
102 Thro' the Labyrinth of Crete.
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103 At the near approach of day,
104 Sudden the musick dies away,
105 Wasting in the sea of air,
106 And the phantoms disappear,
107 All (as the glow-worm waxes dim)
108 Vanish like a morning dream,
109 And of their revels leave no trace,
110 Save the ring upon the grass.
111 When the elphin show is fled,
112 Home I haste me to my bed;
113 There if thou with magick wand
114 On my temples take thy stand,
115 I see in mix'd disorder rise
116 All that struck my waking eyes:
117 So when I stand, and round me gaze,
118 Where the fam'd Lodona strays;
119 On the woods and thickets brown,
120 That its sedgy margin crown,
121 And watch the vagrant clouds that fly
122 Thro' the vast desart of the sky,
123 When adown I cast my look
124 On the smooth unruffled brook,
125 (While its current clear doth run,
126 And holds its mirrour to the sun,)
127 There I see th' inverted scene
128 Fall, and meet the eye again.

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    About this text

    Title (in Source Edition): An ODE to FANCY.
    Author: James Merrick
    Themes: imagination; poetry; literature; writing
    Genres: ode
    References: DMI 25732

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    A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. IV. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 181-185. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.004)

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    The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.