To "There's Such A Charm In Melancholy, I Would Not, If I Could, Be Gay"

Percy Bysshe Shelley

"There's Such A Charm In Melancholy, I Would Not, If I Could, Be Gay"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: An English banker, poet, and patron of the arts, Samuel Rogers was born in Stoke Newington, London. His tastes, formed by extensive travel and reading, were first reflected in his poem The Pleasures of Memory, published in 1792. His chief poem, Italy (1822), did not succeed until in 1830 he spent more than £7000 on an edition illustrated by Turner and others. Rogers' fame as a conversationalist equals his fame as a poet. A friend of many of the famous persons of his day–including Fox, Sheridan, Mrs. Siddons, Scott, Wordsworth, Byron, Wellington, and Talleyrand–he was noted for his table talk and his lavish hospitality. On the death of Wordsworth in 1850 he was offered the laureateship of England but modestly declined the honor later to be conferred upon Tennyson. Of his lyric power, an early editor commented: "He is remarkable principally for the elegance and grace of his compositions, which he polishes up and smooths off as if he valued only their brilliancy and finish, and forgot that strength and force are essential to poetic harmony and the perfection of the metrical style." One of his most memorable verses is a brief lyric in which the poet describes the exquisite pleasure of the melancholy mood. He writes:

Go–you may call it madness, folly;
You shall not chase my gloom away.
There's such a charm in melancholy,
I would not, if I could, be gay.