Sunday, September 11, 2011

Busy Phantasies, Boding Fears

Sonnet XIX. October 1792
by William Lisle Bowles


Go then, and join the distant city’s throng!
Me thou dost leave to solitude and tears,
To busy phantasies, and boding fears,
Lest ill betide thee: but ’twill not be long,
And the hard season shall be past: adieu!
Till then;—yet sometimes this forsaken shade
Rememb’ring, and these trees now left to fade;
Mayst thou, amidst the scenes of pleasure new,
Think on thy absent friend: in heaviness
To me the hours shall roll, weary and slow,
Till mournful autumn past, and all the snow
Of winter pale! the glad hour I shall bless,
That shall restore thee from the crowd again,
To the green hamlet in the peaceful plain.

The 'the scenes of pleasure new' and 'the snow / of winter pale' are quite well done, I think; the adjective distributes across the phrase: new scenes, new pleasure; pale snow, pale winter. John Thelwall, a poet who despised Bowles's whole approach, called these inversions to break the neck of sense, but the sense survives the athletic feat just fine.

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