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They, rich in pilfer'd spoils, indulg'd their mirth,
And pity'd the huge wretched fons of earth.
Even now, 'tis said, the hinds o'erheard their strain,
And strive to view their airy forms in vain :
They to their cells at man's approach repair,
Like the shy leveret, or the mother hare,
The whilst poor mortals startle at the found
Of unseen footsteps on the haunted ground.
Amid this garden, then with woods o’ergrown,
Stood the lov’d seat of royal Oberon.
From every region to his palace gate
Came peers and princes of the fairy state,
Who, rank'd in council round the sacred shade,
Their monarch's will and great behests obey'd.
From Thame's fair banks, by lofty tow’rs adorn'd,
With loads of plunder oft his chiefs return'd:
Hence in proud robes, and colours bright and gay,
Shone every knight and every lovely fay.
Whoe'er on Powell's dazzling stage display'd
Hath fam'd king Pepin and his court survey'd,
May guess, if old by modern things we trace,
The pomp and splendor of the fairy race.
By magic fenc’d, by spells encompass’d round, No mortal touch'd this interdicted ground;
No mortal enter'd, those alone who came
Stolen from the couch of some terrestrial dame :
For oft of babes they robb’d the matron's bed,
And left some sickly changeling in their stead.
It chanc'd a youth of Albion's royal blood
Was foster'd here, the wonder of the wood;
Milkah, for wiles above her peers renown'd,
Deep-skill'd in charms and many a mystic sound,
As through the regal dome she fought for prey,
Observ'd the infant Albion where he lay
In mantles broider'd o'er with gorgeous pride,
And stole him from the sleeping mother's side.
Who now but Milkah triumphs in her mind!
Ah wretched nymph, to future evils blind!
The time shall come when thou shalt dearly pay
The theft, hard-hearted ! of that guilty day:
Thou in thy turn shalt like the queen repine,
And all her sorrows doubled shall be thine :
He who adorns thy house, the lovely boy
Who now adorns it, shall at length destroy.
Two hundred moons in their pale course had seen
The gay-rob’d fairies glimmer on the green,
And Albion now had reach'd in youthful prime
To nineteen years, as mortals measure time.
Flush'd with resistless charms he fir’d to love
Each nymph and little Dryad of the grove;
For skilful Milkah spar'd not to employ
Her utmost art to rear the princely boy:
Each supple limb she swaith'd, and tender bone,
And to the Elfin standard kept him down :
She robb’d dwarf-elders of their fragrant fruit,
And fed him early with the daisy's root,
Whence through his veins the powerful juices ran,
And form'd in beauteous miniature the Man,
Yet still, two inches taller than the rest,
His lofty port his human birth confess’d;
A foot in height, how stately did he show!
How look superior on the crowd below!
What knight like him could toss the rushy launce !.
Who move fo graceful in the mazy dance !
A shape so nice, or features half so fair,
What elf could boast ! or such a flow of hair !
Bright Kenna faw, a princess born to reign,
And felt the charmer burn in every vein.
She, heiress to this empire's potent lord,
Prais'd like the stars, and next the moon ador'd.
She, whom at distance thrones and princedoms viewd,
To whom proud Oriel and Azuriel su’d,
In her high palace languish’d, void of joy,
And pin'd in secret for a mortal boy.
He too was smitten, and discreetly strove
By courtly deeds to gain the virgin's love; .
For her he culld the fairest flowers that grew,
Ere morning suns had drain’d their fragrant dew;
He chasid the hornet in his mid-day flight,
And brought her glow-worms in the noon of night;
When on ripe fruits she cast a wishing eye,
Did ever Albion think the tree too high!
He show'd her where the pregnant goldfinch hung,
And the wren-mọther brooding o'er her young;
To her th' inscription on their eggs he read,
(Admire, ye clerks, the youth whom Milkah bred)
To her he show'd each herb of virtuous juice,
Their powers distinguish’d, and describ’d their use:
All vain their powers, alas ! to Kenna prove,
And well sung Ovid, There's no herb for love.
As when a ghost, enlarg’d from realms below, Seeks its old friend to tell some secret woe, The poor shade shivering stands, and must not break His painful silence, till the mortal speak; So far'd it with the little love-sick maid, Forbid to utter what her eyes betray'd.
He saw her anguish, and reveald his flame,
And spar'd the blushes of the tongue-ty'd dame.
The day would fail me, should I reckon o'er
The sighs they lavish’d, and the oaths they swore ;
In words so melting, that, compar'd with those,
The nicest courtship of terrestrial beaus
Would sound like compliments from country-clowns
To red-cheek'd sweet-hearts in their home-spun gowns.
All in a lawn of many a various hue,
A bed of flowers (a fairy forest) grew;
'Twas here one noon, the gaudiest of the May,
The still, the secret, silent hour of day,
Beneath a lofty tulip's ample shade
Sate the young lover and th' immortal maid.
They thought all fairies Nept, ah luckless pair !
Hid, but in vain, in the sun's noon-tide glare !
When Albion leaning on his Kenna's breast, ..
Thus all the softness of his soul express'd.
* All things are hush'd. The sun's meridian rays • Veil the horizon in one mighty blaze;
Nor moon nor star in heav'n's blue arch is seen • With kindly rays to silver o'er the green. * Grateful to fairy eyes ; they secret take. Their rest, and only wretched mortals wake.