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THE hint of the following piece was taken from
Chaucer's House of Fame. The design is in a manner entirely altered, the descriptions and most of the particular thoughts my own; yet I could not suffer it to be printed without this acknowledgment. The reader who would compare this with Chaucer, may begin with his third book of Fame, there being nothing in the two first books that answers to their title : wherever any hint is taken from him, the passage itself is fet down in the marginal notes.
The Poem is introduced in the manner of the Provençal Poets, whose works were for the most part Vifions, or pieces of imagination, and constantly descriptive. From these, Petrarch and Chaucer frequently borrowed the idea of their poems. See the Trionfi of the former, and the Dream, Flower and the Leaf, &c. of the latter. The Author of this there. fore chose the same fort of Exordium.
N that soft season, when descending showers
Call forth the greens, and wake the rising flowers ;
When opening buds salute the welcome day,
And earth relenting feels the genial ray;
As balmy sleep had charm’d my cares to rest,
And love itself was banish'd from my breast,
(What time the morn mysterious visions brings,
While purer flumbers spread their golden wings)
A train of phantoms in wild order rose,
And, join'd, this intellectual scene compose. To
I stood, methought, betwixt earth, feas, and skies; The whole creation open to my eyes :
Ver. 11, &c.] These verses are hinted from the fol-
lowing of Chaucer, Book ü.
Though beheld I fields and plains,
Now hills, and now mountains,
Now valeis, and now forestes,
And now unneth great beltes,
Now rivers, now citees,
Now towns, now great trees,
Now shippes sayling in the fee.
In air self-balanc'd hung the globe below,
Where mountains rise, and circling oceans flow;
Here naked rocks, and empty wastes were seen 15
There towery cities, and the forests green :
Here failing ships delight the wandering eyes;
There trees and intermingled temples rise;
Now a cle sun the shining scene displays,
The transient landscape now in clouds decays.
O’er the wide prospect as I gaz’d around,
Sudden I heard a wild promiscuous sound,
Like broken thunders that at distance roar,
Or billows murmuring on the hollow shore :
Then gazing up, a glorious pile beheld,
25 Whose towering summit ambient clouds conceal'd. High on a rock of Ice the structure lay, Steep its ascent, and Nippery was the way; The wonderous rock like Parian marble shone, And seem'd, to distant fight, of solid stone.
Inscriptions ; IMITATION. Ver. 27. High on a rock of ice, &c.] Chaucer's third book of Fame.
It stood upon so high a rock,
Higher standeth none in Spayne
What manner stone this rock was,
For it was like a lymed glass,
But that it shone full more clere;.
But of what congeled matere
It was, I niste redily;
But at the last espied I,
And found that it was every dele,
A rock of ice, and not of itele.
Inscriptions here of various Names I view'd,
The greater part by hostile time subdued ;
Yet wide was spread their fame in ages past,
And Poets once had promis’d they should last.
Some fresh engrav'd appear'd of Wits renown'd;
I look'd again, nor could their trace be found.
Critics I saw, that other names deface,
And fix their own, with labour, in their place :
Their own, like others, soon their place resign'd,
Or disappear'd, and left the first behind,
Nor was the work impair'd by storms alone,
But felt th' approaches of too warm a sun;
For Fame, impatient of extremes, decays.
Not more by Envy, than excess of Praise,
Ver. 31. Inscriptions here, &c.]
Tho' saw I all the hill y-grave
With famous folkes names fele,
That had been in much wele
And her fames wide y-blow;
But well unneth might I know,
Any letters for to rede
Their names by, for out of drede
They weren almost off-thawen fo,
That of the letters one or two
Were molte away of every name,
So unfamous was woxe her fame;
But men said, what may ever last ?
Ver. 41. Nor was the work impair’d, &c.]
gan I in myne harte cast,
That they were molte away for heate,
And not away with stormes beate.
Yet part no injuries of heaven could feel,
Like crystal faithful to the graving steel :
The rock's high fummit, in the temple's shade,
Nor heat could melt, nor beating storm invade.
Their names infcrib'd unnumber'd ages paft
From time's first birth, with time itfelf fhall last;
These ever new, nor fubjeét to decays,
Spread, and grow brighter with the length of days.
So Zembla's rocks (the beauteous work of frost)
Rise white in air, and glitter o’er the coast ;
Pale suns, unfelt, at distance roll away,
And on th' impaffive ice the lightnings play;
Eternal snows the growing mass fupply,
Till the bright mountains prop th' incumbent sky;
'As Atlas fix’d, each hoary pile appears,
The gather'd winter of a thousand years,
Ver. 45. Yet part no injuries, &c.]
For on that other side I fey
Of that hill which northward ley,
How it was written full of names
Of folke, that had afore great fames,
Of old time, and yet they were
As fresh as men had written hem there
That self day, or that houre
That I on hem gan to poure:
But well I wiste what it made;
It was conserved with the shade
(All the writing that I fye)
of the castle that foode on high,
And food eke in fo cold a place,
That heat might it not deface,