Anne Finch, The Spleen

New Yorker in July 2016 described Donald Trump as staging a “splenetic display.” Our text is taken from the Text Creation Partnership’s digitization of Finch’s 1713 Miscellany Poems, on Several Occasions.


A Pindarick Poem.

What art thou, SPLEEN,which ev’ry thing dost ape?
Or fix thee to remain in one continued Shape.
Still varying thy perplexing Form,
A Calm of stupid Discontent,
Then, dashing on the Rocks wilt rage into a Storm.
Trembling sometimes thou dost appear,
On Sleep intruding dost thy Shadows spread,
Thy gloomy Terrours round the silent Bed,
And croud with boading Dreams the Melancholy Head:
Or, when the Midnight Hour is told,
And drooping Lids thou still dost waking hold,
Thy fond Delusions cheat the Eyes,
Before them antick Spectres dance,
Unusual Fires their pointed Heads advance,
And airy Phantoms rise.
Was vanquish’d by the Spleen.
 
Falsly, the Mortal Part we blame
Which, till the First degrading Sin
Let Thee, its dull Attendant, in,
Still with the Other did comply,
Nor, whilst in his own Heaven he dwelt,
Whilst Man his Paradice possest,
His fertile Garden in the fragrant East,
And all united Odours smelt,
No armed Sweets, until thy Reign,
A flusht, unhansom Colour place.
Jonquille o’ercomes the feeble Brain;
We faint beneath the Aromatick Pain,
And Pleasure we resign for short, and nauseous Ease.
 
New are thy Motions, and thy Dress:
Thy false Sugge┼┐tions must attend,
Whilst in the light, and vulgar Croud,
Thy Slaves, more clamorous and loud,
Vapours  art,
In Clouds to the attractive Brain,
Until descending thence again,
He the disputed Point must yield,
Compounds for Peace, to make that Right away,
Complains of thy pretended Fits,
Because, sometimes, thou dost presume
Into the ablest Heads to come:
Impatient of unequal Sence,
Such slow Returns, where they so much dispen┼┐e,
I feel my Verse decay, and my crampt Numbers fail.
As Dark, and Terrible as Thee,
An useless Folly, or presumptuous Fault:
Whilst in their Groves, and by their secret Springs
My Hand delights to trace unusual Things,
Nor will in fading Silks compose
When the ill Humour with his Wife he spends,
And bears recruited Wit, and Spirits to his Friends.
As to the Glass he still repairs,
Pretends but to remove thy Cares,
Snatch from thy Shades one gay, and smiling Hour,
Coquette, whom ev’ry Fool admires,
And, changing hastily the Scene
From Light, Impertinent, and Vain,
Assumes a soft, a melancholy Air,
The thoughtful, and composed Face,
Proclaiming the withdrawn, the absent Mind,
Fop more liberty to gaze,
The Cause, indeed, is a Defect in Sense,
But these are thy fantastick Harms,
The Tricks of thy pernicious Stage,
With anxious Doubts, with endless Scruples vext,
Vot’ries to the Pow’rs Divine,
Whilst they a purer Sacrifice design,
In vain all Remedies apply,
Indian Leaf  infuse,
Some pass, in vain, those Bounds, and nobler Liquors use.
Inspire the Flute, and touch the String.
And if too light, but turns thee gayly Mad.
Ladies Fees,
Yet dost thou baffle all his studious Pains.
Lower thy Source cou’d find,
The secret, the mysterious ways,
By which thou dost surprize, and prey upon the Mind.
With unsuccessful Toil he wrought,
And sunk beneath thy Chain to a lamented Grave.