Ode to Fancy

Original Text: 
Joseph Warton, Odes on Various Subjects (London: R. Dodsley, 1746); facs. edn., intro. by Joan Pittock (Delmar, N.Y.: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1977). PR 3759 .W3O7 1977 Robarts Library
2Thy spirit o'er my soul diffuse,
3O'er all my artless songs preside,
4My footsteps to thy temple guide.
5To offer at thy turf-built shrine,
6In golden cups no costly wine,
7No murder'd fatling of the flock,
8But flowers and honey from the rock.
9O Nymph with loosely-flowing hair,
10With buskin'd leg, and bosom bare,
11Thy waist with myrtle-girdle bound,
12Thy brows with Indian feathers crown'd,
13Waving in thy snowy hand
14An all-commanding magic wand,
15Of pow'r to bid fresh gardens blow,
16'Mid cheerless Lapland's barren snow,
17Whose rapid wings thy flight convey
18Through air, and over earth and sea,
19While the vast various landscape lies
20Conspicuous to thy piercing eyes.
21O lover of the desert, hail!
22Say, in what deep and pathless vale,
23Or on what hoary mountain's side,
24'Mid fall of waters, you reside,
25'Mid broken rocks, a rugged scene,
26With green and grassy dales between,
27'Mid forests dark of aged oak,
28Ne'er echoing with the woodman's stroke,
29Where never human art appear'd,
30Nor ev'n one straw-roof'd cot was rear'd,
31Where Nature seems to sit alone,
32Majestic on a craggy throne;
33Tell me the path, sweet wand'rer, tell,
34To thy unknown sequester'd cell,
35Where woodbines cluster round the door,
36Where shells and moss o'erlay the floor,
37And on whose top an hawthorn blows,
38Amid whose thickly-woven boughs
39Some nightingale still builds her nest,
40Each evening warbling thee to rest:
41There lay me by the haunted stream,
42Rapt in some wild, poetic dream,
43In converse while methinks I rove
44With Spenser through a fairy grove;
45'Till suddenly awoke, I hear
46Strange whisper'd music in my ear,
47And my glad soul in bliss is drown'd
48By the sweetly-soothing sound!
49Me, Goddess, by the right-hand lead,
50Sometimes through the yellow mead,
51Where Joy and white-rob'd Peace resort,
52And Venus keeps her festive court,
53Where Mirth and Youth each evening meet,
54And lightly trip with nimble feet,
55Nodding their lily-crowned heads,
56Where Laughter rose-lipp'd Hebe leads;
57Where Echo walks steep hills among,
58List'ning to the shepherd's song:
59Yet not those flowery fields of joy
60Can long my pensive mind employ,
61Haste, Fancy, from these scenes of folly,
63Goddess of the tearful eye,
64That loves to fold her arms, and sigh!
66To charnels and the house of woe,
67To Gothic churches, vaults, and tombs,
68Where each sad night some virgin comes,
69With throbbing breast, and faded cheek,
70Her promis'd bridegroom's urn to seek;
71Or to some abbey's mould'ring tow'rs,
72Where, to avoid cold wintry show'rs,
73The naked beggar shivering lies,
74While whistling tempests round her rise,
75And trembles lest the tottering wall
76Should on her sleeping infants fall.
77     Now let us louder strike the lyre,
78For my heart glows with martial fire,
79I feel, I feel, with sudden heat,
80My big tumultuous bosom beat,
81The trumpet's clangours pierce my ear,
82A thousand widows' shrieks I hear,
83Give me another horse, I cry,
84Lo! the base Gallic squadrons fly;
85Whence is this rage?--what spirit, say,
86To battle hurries me away?
87'Tis Fancy, in her fiery car,
88Transports me to the thickest war,
89There whirls me o'er the hills of slain,
90Where Tumult and Destruction reign;
91Where, mad with pain, the wounded steed
92Tramples the dying and the dead;
93Where giant Terror stalks around,
94With sullen joy surveys the ground,
95And, pointing to th' ensanguin'd field,
96Shakes his dreadful Gorgon-shield!
97     O guide me from this horrid scene
98To high-arch'd walks and alleys green,
99Which lovely Laura seeks, to shun
100The fervours of the mid-day sun;
101The pangs of absence, O remove!
102For thou canst place me near my love,
103Canst fold in visionary bliss,
104And let me think I steal a kiss,
105While her ruby lips dispense
106Luscious nectar's quintessence!
108From her green lap the pink and rose,
109When the soft turtle of the dale
110To Summer tells her tender tale,
111When Autumn cooling caverns seeks,
112And stains with wine his jolly cheeks;
113When Winter, like poor pilgrim old,
114Shakes his silver beard with cold;
115At every season let my ear
116Thy solemn whispers, Fancy, hear.
117O warm, enthusiastic maid,
118Without thy powerful, vital aid,
119That breathes an energy divine,
120That gives a soul to every line,
121Ne'er may I strive with lips profane
122To utter an unhallow'd strain,
123Nor dare to touch the sacred string,
124Save when with smiles thou bid'st me sing.
125O hear our prayer, O hither come
126From thy lamented Shakespear's tomb,
127On which thou lov'st to sit at eve,
128Musing o'er thy darling's grave;
129O queen of numbers, once again
130Animate some chosen swain,
131Who, fill'd with unexhausted fire,
132May boldly smite the sounding lyre,
133Who with some new, unequall'd song,
134May rise above the rhyming throng,
135O'er all our list'ning passions reign,
136O'erwhelm our souls with joy and pain;
137With terror shake, with pity move,
138Rouse with revenge, or melt with love.
139O deign t' attend his evening walk,
140With him in groves and grottoes talk;
141Teach him to scorn with frigid art
142Feebly to touch th' unraptur'd heart;
143Like lightning, let his mighty verse
144The bosom's inmost foldings pierce;
145With native beauties win applause,
146Beyond cold critics' studied laws;
147O let each Muse's fame increase,
148O bid Britannia rival Greece!


1] See introductory note on Collins' Ode on the Poetical Character. Back to Line
62] Melancholy: Cf. Milton's Il Penseroso, 11 ff. Back to Line
65] Cf. Thomas Warton, Pleasures of Melancholy, 44. Back to Line
107] Cf. Collins, Ode to Evening, 41 ff. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Joseph Warton, The Enthusiast (London: R. Dodsley, sold by M. Cooper, 1744).
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.682; RPO 1996-2000.