Sunday, 28 October 2012

Book of wonders

Monk Lewis the eighteenth century English gothic novelist also put together this book of fantastical ballads with help from his friends including Walter Scott, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (translated by Scott and Lewis)Robert Southey and yes, John Leyden in 1801.


Leyden's own contribution is The elfin king - an atmospheric more robust predecessor of Keat's La belle dame sans merci (1819).

lines from The elfin king


How swift they flew! no eye could view
Their track on heath or hill;
Yet swift across both moor and moss
St. Clair did follow still.

And soon was seen a circle green,  
Where a shadowy wassel crew
Amid the ring did dance and sing,
In weeds of watchet blue.

And the windlestrae, so limber and gray,
Did shiver beneath the tread  
Of the coursers’ feet, as they rushed to meet
The morrice of the dead.

Come here, come here, with thy green feere,
Before the bread be stale;
To roundel dance with speed advance,  
And taste our wassel ale.


You can find the full text of the poem here http://literaryballadarchive.com/PDF/Leyden_2_Elfin-King_f.pdf


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