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THE PL E A () F

THE MIII) SUMIME R F AIR, IES.

"TWAS in that mellow season of the year
When the hot Sun singes the yellow leaves
Till they be gold, and with a broader sphere
The Moon looks down on Ceres and her sheaves;
When more abundantly the spider weaves,
And the cold wind breathes from a chillier clime;
That forth I fared, on one of those still eves,
Touched with the dewy sadness of the time,
To think how the bright months had spent their prime.

So that, wherever I addressed my way,
I seemed to track the melancholy feet
Of him that is the Father of Decay,
And spoils at once the sour weed and the sweet; –
Wherefore regretfully I made retreat
To some unwasted regions of my brain,
Charmed with the light of summer and the heat,
And bade that bounteous season bloom again,
And sprout fresh flowers in mine own domain.

It was a shady and sequestered scene,
Like those famed gardens of Boccaccio,
Planted with his own laurels ever green,

And roses that for endless summer blow ;
And there were fountain springs to overflow
Their marble basins; and cool green arcades
0f tall o'erarching sycamores, to throw
Athwart the dappled path their dancing shades;
With timid conies cropping the green blades.

And there were crystal pools, peopled with fish,
Argent and gold; and some of Tyrian skin,
Some crimson-barred ; — and ever at a wish
They rose obsequious till the wave grew thin
As glass upon their backs, and then dived in,
Quenching their ardent scales in watery gloom ;
Whilst others with fresh hues rowed forth to win
My changeable regard, – for so we doom
Things born of thought to vanish or to bloom.

And there were many birds of many dyes,
From tree to tree still faring to and fro,
And stately peacocks with their splendid eyes,
And gorgeous pheasants with their golden glow,
Like Iris just bedabbled in her bow,
Besides some vocalists, without a name,
That oft on fairy errands come and go,
With accents magical; — and all were tame,
And peckéd at my hand where’er I came.

And for my sylvan company, in lieu
Of Pampinea with her lively peers,
Sate Queen Titania with her pretty crew,
All in their liveries quaint, with elfin gears;
For she was gracious to my childish years,
And made me free of her enchanted round;
Wherefore this dreamy scene she still endears,

And plants her court upon a verdant mound,
Fenced with umbrageous woods and groves profound.

“Ah, me,” she cries, “was ever moonlight seen
So clear and tender for our midnight trips ?
Go some one forth, and with a trump convene
My lieges all !”— Away the goblin skips
A pace or two apart, and deftly strips
The ruddy skin from a sweet rose's cheek,
Then blows the shuddering leaf between his lips,
Making it utter forth a shrill small shriek,
Like a frayed bird in the gray owlet's beak.

And, lo! upon my fixed delighted ken
Appeared the loyal Fays. Some by degrees
Crept from the primrose buds that opened then,
And some from bell-shaped blossoms like the bees,
Some from the dewy meads, and rushy leas,
Flew up like chafers when the rustics pass;
Some from the rivers, others from tall trees
Dropped, like shed blossoms, silent to the grass,
Spirits and elfins small, of every class.

Peri and Pixy, and quaint Puck the Antic,
Brought Robin Goodfellow, that merry swain;
And stealthy Mab, queen of old realms romantic,
Came too, from distance, in her tiny wain,
Fresh dripping from a cloud—some bloomy rain,
Then circling the bright Moon, had washed her car,
And still bedeved it with a various stain :
Lastly came Ariel, shooting from a star,
Who bears all fairy embassies afar.

But Oberon, that night elsewhere exiled,
Was absent, whether some distempered spleen

Kept him and his fair mate unreconciled,
Or warfare with the Gnome (whose race had been
Sometimes obnoxious) kept him from his queen,
And made her now peruse the starry skies
Prophetical with such an absent mien ;
Howbeit, the tears stole often to her eyes,
And oft the Moon was incensed with her sighs—

Which made the elves sport drearily, and soon
Their hushing dances languished to a stand,
Like midnight leaves when, as the Zephyrs swoon,
All on their drooping stems they sink unfanned, -
So into silence drooped the fairy band,
To see their empress dear so pale and still,
Crowding her softly round on either hand,
As pale as frosty snowdrops, and as chill,
To whom the sceptred dame reveals her ill.

“Alas!” quoth she, “ ye know our fairy lives
Are leased upon the fickle faith of men;
Not measured out against fate’s mortal knives
Tike human gossamers, we perish when
We fade, and are forgot in worldly ken, –
Though poesy has thus prolonged our date,
Thanks be to the sweet Bard's auspicious pen.
That rescued us so long !—howbeit of late
I feel some dark misgivings of our fate.

“And this dull day my melancholy sleep
Hath been so thronged with images of woe,
That even now I cannot choose but weep
To think this was some sad prophetic show
Of future horror to befall us so, -
Of mortal wreck and uttermost distress, --

Yea, our poor empire's fall and overthrow, -
For this was my long vision's dreadful stress,
And when I waked my trouble was not less.

“Whenever to the clouds I tried to seek,
Such leaden weight dragged these Icarian wings,
My faithless wand was wavering and weak,
And slimy toads had trespassed in our rings —
The birds refused to sing for me — all things
Disowned their old allegiance to our spells;
The rude bees pricked me with their rebel stings;
And, when I passed, the valley-lily's bells
Rang out, methought, most melancholy knells.

“And ever on the faint and flagging air
A doleful spirit with a dreary note
Cried in my fearful ear, ‘Prepare prepare l’
Which soon I knew came from a raven's throat,
Perched on a cypress bough not far remote, –
A curséd bird, too crafty to be shot,
That alway cometh with his soot-black coat
To make hearts dreary: for he is a blot
Upon the book of life, as well ye wot? —

“Wherefore some while I bribed him to be mute,
With bitter acorns stuffing his foul maw,
Which barely I appeased, when some fresh bruit
Startled me all aheap !—and soon I saw
The horridest shape that ever raised my awe, –
A monstrous giant, very huge and tall,
Such as in elder times, devoid of law,
With wicked might grieved the primeval ball,
And this was sure the deadliest of them all !

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