More strange than true. I never may believeThese antique fables nor these fairy toys.Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,Such shaping fantasies, that apprehendMore than cool reason ever comprehends.The lunatic, the lover, and the poetAre of imagination all compact.One sees more devils than vast hell can hold—That is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,Doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to heaven.
'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.
Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.—Joy, gentle friends! Joy and fresh days of loveAccompany your hearts!
And as imagination bodies forthThe forms of things unknown, the poet’s penTurns them to shapes and gives to airy nothingA local habitation and a name.Such tricks hath strong imagination,That if it would but apprehend some joy,It comprehends some bringer of that joy.Or in the night, imagining some fear,How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
But all the story of the night told over,And all their minds transfigured so together,More witnesseth than fancy’s imagesAnd grows to something of great constancy,But, howsoever, strange and admirable.
More than to usWait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!
Come now, what masques, what dances shall we haveTo wear away this long age of three hoursBetween our after-supper and bedtime?Where is our usual manager of mirth?What revels are in hand? Is there no play,To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?Call Philostrate.