Thomas Hood, 'To The Invisible Girl'

They try to persuade me, my dear little sprite,
That you are not a daughter of ether and light,
Nor have any concern with those fanciful forms
That dance upon rainbows and ride upon storms;
But I will not believe them - no, science! to you
I have long bid a last and a careless adieu:
Still flying from nature to study her laws.
And dulling delight by exploring its cause,
You forget how superior, for mortals below,
Is the fiction they dream to the truth that they know.
O! who, that has ever had rapture complete,
Would ask how we feel it, or why it is sweet;
How rays are confus'd, or how particles fly,
Through the medium refin'd of a glance or a sigh!
Is there one, who but once would not rather have known it,
Than written, with Harvey, whole volumes upon it?
No, no - but for you, my invisible love,
I will swear, you are one of the spirits, that rove
By the bank, where, at twilight, the poet reclines,
When the star of the west on his solitude shines,
And the magical fingers of fancy have hung
Every breeze with a sigh, every leaf with a tongue!
Oh! whisper him then, 'tis retirement alone
Can hallow his harp or ennoble his tone;
Like you, with a vale of seclusion between,
His song to the world let him utter unseen;
And like you, a legitimate child of the spheres,
Escape from the eye, to enrapture the ears!
Sweet spirit of mystery, how I should love,
In the wearisome days I am fated to rove,
To have you for ever invisibly nigh,
Inhaling for ever your song and your sigh!
'Mid the crowds of the world and the murmurs of care,
I might sometimes converse with the nymph of the air,
And turn with delight from the clamorous crew,
To steal in the pauses one whisper from you.
O! come and be near me, for ever be mine,
We shall hold in the air a communion divine,
As sweet as, of old, was imagin'd to dwell
In the grotto of Numa, or Socrates' cell.
And oft, at those lingering moments of night,
When the heart is weighed down, and the eyelid is light,
You shall come to my pillow and tell me of love,
Such as angel to angel might whisper above!
Of spirit! - and then, could you borrow the tone
Of that voice, to my ear so bewitchingly known,
The voice of the one upon earth, who has twin'd
With her essence for ever my heart and my mind!
Though lonely, and far from the light of her smile,
An exile and weary and hopeless the while,
Could you shed for a moment that voice on my ear,
I will think at that moment my Cara is near,
That she comes with consoling enchantment to speak,
And kisses my eyelid, and sighs on my cheek,
And tells me, the night shall go rapidly by,
For the dawn of our hope, of our heav'n is nigh!

Sweet spirit! if such be your magical power,
It will lighten the lapse of full many an hour;
And let fortune's realities form as they will,
Hope, Fancy, and Care may smile for me still!

The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood (London: Simpkins, Marshall and Co., 1867), pp. 253-4

Compiled by Steven Connor as part of The Dumbstruck Archive, a continuing, online supplement to Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).