Phantasm’s Masque

The scene is poetry.

The stage is the brain, whereon it is acted.

First is presented a dumb show, as a young lady in a ship, swimming over the scene in various weather. Afterwards this ship comes2 back again, having then a3 commander of war as its4 owner. In various weather, this ship5 being in great distress, Jupiter relieves it.

Then appear6 six masquers in several dresses, as dressed by Love, Valor, Honor, Youth, Age, Vanity. Vanity signifies the world, and Age mortality.

Then there is7 presented in a show8 the nine Muses, who dance a measure in four and twenty figures,9 and nine musical instruments made of goose-quills, playing several tunes as they dance.

Then the10 chorus speaks.

The bride and bridegroom going to the temple: Fancy speaks the prologue to Judgment as king. Vanity speaks an epilogue to the Thoughts, which are spectators; Honor speaks another.

  1. Both Grant and Whitaker read the whole of this Clasp biographically: “Margaret also told her own storm-tossed life history in the sort of biographical allegory that Flecknoe had created for the duchess of Lorraine at Beersel”; see Mad Madge, 147. However, as I argue in the editorial introduction, it possibly also invites other readings as well (e.g., even if it is a narration of her journey, why frame it with “Fancy’s Prologue to Judgment”?
  2. comes] came 1653
  3. then a] a 1664, 1668
  4. its] the 1653
  5. this ship] it 1664, 1668
  6. appear] appeared 1653; appears 1668
  7. is] are 1664, 1668
  8. a show] Shew 1653
  9. A marginal note in Cavendish’s text reads, “Which are the 24 letters of the alphabet.”
  10. the] a 1653