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The Plea Of The Midsummer Fairies
by [?]


[Note: The opening Poem in the volume published by Hood in 1827, under the same title. The Poem was prefaced by the following letter to Charles Lamb:–


“My dear Friend, I thank my literary fortune that I am not reduced like many better wits to barter dedications, for the hope or promise of patronage, with some nominally great man; but that where true affection points, and honest respect, I am free to gratify my head and heart by a sincere inscription. An intimacy and dearness, worthy of a much earlier date than our acquaintance can refer to, direct me at once to your name; and with this acknowledgment of your ever kind feeling towards me, I desire to record a respect and admiration for you as a writer, which no one acquainted with our literature, save Elia himself, will think disproportionate or misplaced. If I had not these better reasons to govern me, I should be guided to the same selection by your intense yet critical relish for the works of the great Dramatist, and for that favorite play in particular which has furnished the subject of my verses.

It is my design in the following poem to celebrate by an allegory that immortality which Shakspeare has conferred on the fairy mythology by his Midsummer Night’s Dream. But for him, those pretty children of our childhood would leave barely their names to our maturer years; they belong, as the mites upon the plumb, to the bloom of fancy, a thing generally too frail and beautiful to withstand the rude handling of time: but the Poet has made this most perishable part of the mind’s creation equal to the most enduring; he has so intertwined the Elfins with human sympathies, and linked them by so many delightful associations with the productions of nature, that they are as real to the mind’s eye, as their green magical circles to the outer sense. It would have been a pity for such a race to go extinct, even though they were but as the butterflies that hover about the leaves and blossoms of the visible world. I am, my dear friend, yours most truly, T. HOOD.”]

I.

‘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,
Touch’d with the dewy sadness of the time,
To think how the bright months had spent their prime,

II.

So that, wherever I address’d my way,
I seem’d 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,
Charm’d with the light of summer and the heat,
And bade that bounteous season bloom again,
And sprout fresh flowers in mine own domain.

III.

It was a shady and sequester’d scene,
Like those famed gardens of Boccaccio,
Planted with his own laurels evergreen,
And roses that for endless summer blow;
And there were fountain springs to overflow
Their marble basins,–and cool green arcades
Of tall o’erarching sycamores, to throw
Athwart the dappled path their dancing shades,–
With timid coneys cropping the green blades.

IV.

And there were crystal pools, peopled with fish,
Argent and gold; and some of Tyrian skin,
Some crimson-barr’d;–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 row’d forth to win
My changeable regard,–for so we doom
Things born of thought to vanish or to bloom.