The Complaint of the Sylphs

Miss Porden


How fast the illusions of happiness fly
 Like the bubbles that rise on the breast of the Lake
Like the lightnings in summer that flash tho’ the sky —
 How pleasing the dream, but how soon we awake.


Ah fondly we hoped when Grim Umber we viewed
 That the gnome but appeared our endeavours to aid
Ah little we thought that the veil he pursued
 When obtained would secure him the charms of the maid.


Yet surely affection had blinded our eyes
 Or a sylph in a gnome would have never put trust
Since we know, thought to mortals the truth they disguise
 That their race are all treacherous false and unjust.


Too late of our confidence now we repent
 In vain we our loves, our misfortunes bewail [prevail]
For too well we know a gnome ne’er can relent
 And by theft we can never recover the veil


In an adamant casket the prize he conceals
 While sleepless he watches his treasure with care
And a magical mirror before him reveals
 To his cavern should spirits to seize it repair


He has tortures for those that awaken his ire
 All dreadful for mortals, but worst for the sprite
Our thin, airy forms he distends with his fire
 Or compresses with cold to the size of a mite.


We know that by poets, (and truly) ’tis said
 That inconstant from fair one to fair one we range
But who that had seen such a beautiful maid
 Who would or who could ever wish for a change


She is fair as Aurora, her eyes are as bright
 As the stars that in winter illumine the sky
And oh when she dances her step is so light
 No sylph o’er the ground can so gracefully fly


Though fair as the fairest, less lovely than wise
 Her manners are polished, and polished her mind
While mirth and good-humour still beam in her eyes
 And archness and satyr, by mildness refined


Oh then how inconstant that Sylphid must be
 More inconstant than poets have fabled the fair
Who his heart form the chains of Maria would free
 And to one far less worthy the tribute would bear


Ah would that we had less inquisitive been
 Then our fondness had not plunged the damsel in grief
Or her face by his aid if we never had seen
 Our despair might have found in her absence relief


By why do we all this inactive lament
 While the sword of stern far o’er the maiden impends
Let us fly (or we soon our delay may repent)
 And arrest the dread blow ere on her it descends


Grim Umber has threaten’d a twelvemonth gone o’er
 That he the sad maid to his cavern will bear
The sight of the sun to revisit no more
 No more the delights of society share


But if on that day we prevent his return
 The veil to Maria he renders again
And however with rage and resentment he burn
 To espouse her hereafter his arts will be vain


Oh then let us fly with all speed to prepare
 Some plot that our wisdom may aid and approve
To keep him that day from the regions of air
 We are called to the task both by vengeance and love

exit omnes