Still may he glow, and love the sprightly scene,
Who ne'er has felt the iron hand of Care;
But what avails to me a sky serene,
Whose mind is torn with Anguish and Despair?
Give me the Winter's desolating reign,
The gloomy sky in which no star is found;
Howl, ye wild winds, across the desert plain;
Ye waters roar, ye falling woods resound!
Congenial horrors, hail! I love to see
All Nature mourn, and share my misery.
Ann Radcliffe was the best-selling British novelist of the 1790s and the cre-
ator of a highly influential school of gothic fiction. The Mysteries of Udolpho
(1794) was a sensation not only in Britain but on the continent. Radcliffe's
experimental poetry interspersed in her fiction helped to delay and give con-
text to the action and keep her readers in suspense. She wrote six novels al-
together, all with gutsy heroines subjected to extremes of terror, apparently
supernatural events given rational explanations in the end, and villains who
are the forerunners of the Byronic hero.
Dear, wild illusions of creative mind!
Whose varying hues arise to Fancy's art,
And by her magic force are swift combined
In forms that please, and scenes that touch the heart:
Oh! whether at her voice ye soft assume
The pensive grace of sorrow drooping low;
Or rise sublime on terror's lofty plume,
And shake the soul with wildly thrilling woe;
Or, sweetly bright, your gayer tints ye spread, —
Bid scenes of pleasure steal upon my view,
Love wave his purple pinions o'er my head,
And wake the tender thought to passion true;
O! still—ye shadowy forms! attend my lonely hours,
Still chase my real cares with your illusive powers!
Oft let me wander, at the break of day,
Through the cool vale o'erhung with waving woods,
Drink the rich fragrance of the budding May,