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IN THE ANCIENT ENGLISH STYLE.
IN Britain's isle, and Arthur's days,
When midnight fairies danced the maze,
Lived Edwin of the Green;
Edwin, I wis, a gentle youth,
Endow'd with courage, sense, and truth,
Though badly shaped he been.
His mountain back mote well be said
To measure height against his head,
And lift itself above;
Yet, spite of all that Nature did
To make his uncouth form forbid,
This creature dared to love.
He felt the charms of Edith's eyes,
Nor wanted hope to gain the prize,
Could ladies look within;
But one Sir Topaz dress'd with art,
And, if a shape could win a heart,
He had a shape to win.
Edwin, if right I read my song,
With slighted passion paced along
All in the moony light;
"Twas near an old enchanted court,
Where sportive fairies made resort,
To revel out the night.
His heart was drear, his hope was cross'd,
'Twas late, 'twas far, the path was lost
That reach'd the neighbour-town;
With weary steps he quits the shades,
Resolved, the darkling dome he treads,
And drops his limbs adown.
But scant he lays him on the floor,
When hollow winds remove the door,
And, trembling, rocks the ground:
And, well I ween to count aright,
At once a hundred tapers light
On all the walls around.
Now sounding tongues assail his ear,
Now sounding feet approachen near,
And now the sounds increase:
And from the corner where he lay
He sees a train profusely gay
Come pranking o'er the place.
But (trust me, gentles!) never yet
Was dight a masking half so neat,
Or half so rich before;
The country lent the sweet perfumes,
The sea the pearl, the sky the plumes,
The town its silken store.
Now whilst he gazed, a gallant dress'd
In flaunting robes above the rest,
With awful accent cried:
'What mortal of a wretched mind,
Whose sighs infect the balmy wind,
Has here presumed to hide?'
At this the swain, whose venturous soul
No fears of magic art control,
Advanced in open sight;
'Nor have I cause of dreed, (he said,)
Who view, by no presumption led,
Your revels of the night.
'Twas grief, for scorn of faithful love,
Which made my steps unweeting rove
Amid the nightly dew.'
"Tis well, (the gallant cries again)
We fairies never injure men
Who dare to tell us true.
'Exalt thy love-dejected heart,
Be mine the task, or ere we part,
To make thee grief resign;
Now take the pleasure of thy chaunce;
Whilst I with Mab, my partner, daunce,
Be little Mable thine.'
He spoke, and all a sudden there
Light music floats in wanton air;
The monarch leads the queen:
The rest their fairy partners found:
And Mable trimly tripp'd the ground
With Edwin of the Green.
The dauncing pass'd, the board was laid,
And siker such a feast was made
As heart and lip desire,
Withouten hands the dishes fly,
The glasses with a wish come nigh,
And with a wish retire.
But now to please the fairy king,
Full every deal they laugh and sing,
And antic feats devise;
Some wind and tumble like an ape,
And other some transmute their shape
In Edwin's wondering eyes.
Till one at last, that Robin hight,
Renown'd for pinching maids by night,
Has bent him up aloof;
And full against the beam he flung,
Where by the back the youth he hung
To spraul unneath the roof.
From thence, Reverse my charm, (he cries) And let it fairly now suffice
The gambol has been shown:' But Oberon answers, with a smile, 'Content thee, Edwin, for a while, The vantage is thine own.'
Here ended all the phantom play;
They smelt the fresh approach of day,
And heard a cock to crow;
The whirling wind that bore the crowd
Has clapp'd the door, and whistled loud,
To warn them all to go.
Then screaming all at once they fly,
And all at once the tapers die;
Poor Edwin falls to floor;
Forlorn his state, and dark the place,
Was never wight in sike a case
Through all the land before.
But soon as dan Apollo rose,
Full jolly creature home he goes,
He feels his back the less;
His honest tongue and steady mind
Had rid him of the lump behind,
Which made him want success.
With lusty livelyhed he talks,
He seems a dauncing as he walks,
His story soon took wind;
And beauteous Edith sees the youth
Endow'd with courage, sense, and truth,
Without a bunch behind.
The story told, Sir Topaz moved,
The youth of Edith erst approved,
To see the revel scene;
At close of eve he leaves his home,
And wends to find the ruin'd dome,
All on the gloomy plain.
As there he bides, it so befell,
The wind came rustling down a dell,
A shaking seized the wall;
Up spring the tapers as before,
The fairies bragly foot the floor,
And music fills the hall.
But, certes, sorely sunk with woe
Sir Topaz sees the elfin show,
His spirits in him die:
When Oberon cries, 'A man is near,
A mortal passion, ycleped fear,
Hangs flagging in the sky.'