William Linley
(1771 - 1835)

Linley : Now the blue fly's gone to bed : illustration

Now the blue fly's gone to bed
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From "Flights of Fancy, in six new glees", a youthful collaboration between Linley and Leftley (whom I surmise to have been his contemporary at St Paul's School). Leftley died young, in 1797, (I cannot ascertain whether this volume of glees was published posthumously) and Linley seems to have championed his memory for the rest of his own life, compiling a volume of his friend's writings together with an account of his life some twenty years later. In an age when mortality amongst the young was common, Linley appears to have experienced more bereavement than most: by the date of these glees William had recently lost his father and ten siblings (including Elizabeth, wife to Sheridan and a renowned singer, and Thomas, composer, exact contemporary and friend of Mozart, and the most promising composer lost prematurely to English music). "Flights of Fancy" is remarkable as an early example of a collection of songs with a common theme. Unfortunately, the engagement with the theme of pseudo-Shakespearean Faerie (a lifelong feature of Linley's work) reads more Whimsical than Phantastikal in the modern post-Flower Fairy world; The prototype (horribile dictu) of the Prog-Rock concept album.
Lyrics: Charles Leftley

Now the blue fly's gone to bed,
And the shriller cricket sings;
Soft through daisied wilds we tread,
Or on tall reeds wave our wings.
Hush! Our princess is at hand;
In a mist aloft she flies,
Sprinkling dew o'er sea and land.
What time the pale star 'gins to rise
Behind her floating chariot soon
Along the winding shores will creep
The fair and silver-slippered moon,
And smile the river-boys to sleep;
In sedgy cradles calm they lie.
Come take hands then, one and all,
And to yon tinkling waterfall
Sing lullaby.