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A FLIGHT OF FANCY, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: At the bar of judge conscience, stood reason
Last Line: The hole in the lock, which she could not undo.
Alternate Author Name(s): Vane, Violet
Subject(s): Judges; Law & Lawyers; Reason; Intellect; Rationalism; Brain; Mind; Intellectuals

At the bar of Judge Conscience stood Reason arraign'd,
The jury impannell'd -- the prisoner chain'd.
The judge was facetious at times, though severe,
Now waking a smile, and now drawing a tear;
An old-fashion'd, fidgety, queer-looking wight,
With a clerical air, and an eye quick as light.

"Here, Reason, you vagabond! look in my face;
I'm told you're becoming an idle scapegrace.
They say that young Fancy, that airy coquette,
Has dared to fling round you her luminous net;
That she ran away with you, in spite of yourself,
For pure love of frolic -- the mischievous elf.

"The scandal is whisper'd by friends and by foes,
And darkly they hint, too, that when they propose
Any question to your ear, so lightly you're led,
At once to gay Fancy you turn your wild head:
And she leads you off in some dangerous dance,
As wild as the Polka that gallop'd from France.

"Now up to the stars with you, laughing, she springs,
With a whirl and a whisk of her changeable wings;
Now dips in some fountain her sun-painted plume,
That gleams through the spray, like a rainbow in bloom;
Now floats in a cloud, while her tresses of light
Shine through the frail boat and illumine its flight;
Now glides through the woodland to gather its flowers;
Now darts like a flash to the sea's coral bowers;
In short -- cuts such capers, that with her, I ween,
It's a wonder you are not ashamed to be seen!

"Then she talks such a language! -- melodious enough,
To be sure, but a strange sort of outlandish stuff!
I'm told that it licenses many a whapper,
And when once she commences, no frowning can stop her;
Since it's new, I've no doubt it is very improper!
They say that she cares not for order or law;
That of you, you great dunce! she but makes a cat's-paw.
I've no sort of objection to fun in its season,
But it's plain that this Fancy is fooling you, Reason!"

Just then into court flew a strange little sprite,
With wings of all colours and ringlets of light!
She frolick'd round Reason, till Reason grew wild,
Defying the court and caressing the child.
The judge and the jury, the clerk and recorder,
In vain call'd this exquisite creature to order: --
"Unheard of intrusion!" -- They bustled about,
To seize her, but, wild with delight, at the rout,
She flew from their touch like a bird from a spray,
And went waltzing and whirling and singing away!

Now up to the ceiling, now down to the floor!
Were never such antics in courthouse before!
But a lawyer, well versed in the tricks of his trade,
A trap for the gay little innocent laid:
He held up a mirror, and Fancy was caught
By her image within it, -- so lovely, she thought.
What could the fair creature be! -- bending its eyes
On her own with so wistful a look of surprise!
She flew to embrace it. The lawyer was ready:
He closed round the spirit a grasp cool and steady,
And she sigh'd, while he tied her two luminous wings,
"Ah! Fancy and Falsehood are different things!"

The witnesses -- maidens of uncertain age,
With a critic, a publisher, lawyer, and sage --
All scandalized greatly at what they had heard
Of this poor little Fancy, (who flew like a bird!)
Were call'd to the stand, and their evidence gave.
The judge charged the jury, with countenance grave:
Their verdict was "Guilty," and Reason look'd down,
As his honour exhorted her thus, with a frown: --

"This Fancy, this vagrant, for life shall be chain'd
In your own little cell, where you should have remain'd;
And you -- for your punishment -- jailer shall be:
Don't let your accomplice come coaxing to me!
I'll none of her nonsense -- the little wild witch!
Nor her bribes -- although rumour does say she is rich.

"I've heard that all treasures and luxuries rare
Gather round at her bidding, from earth, sea, and air;
And some go so far as to hint, that the powers
Of darkness attend her more sorrowful hours.
But go!" and Judge Conscience, who never was bought,
Just bow'd the pale prisoner out of the court.

'Tis said, that poor Reason next morning was found,
At the door of her cell, fast asleep on the ground,
And nothing within but one plume rich and rare,
Just to show that young Fancy's wing once had been there.
She had dropp'd it, no doubt, while she strove to get through
The hole in the lock, which she could not undo.

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