William Linley
(1771 - 1835)

Linley : Zephyr, whither art thou straying? : illustration

Zephyr, whither art thou straying?
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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

Zephyr, whither art thou straying?
Tell me where.
Where with prankish girls in gardens playing?
False as fair.
A butterfly's light back bestriding
Queen bees to honeysuckles guiding
Or in a swinging harebell riding
Free from care.
Before Aurora's car you amble high in air,
At noon, when Neptune's sea-nymphs gambol,
Braid their hair.
When on the tumbling billows rolling,
Or on the smooth sands idly strolling,
Or in cool grottoes they lie lolling,
You sport there.
To chase the moonbeams up the mountains you prepare;
Or dance with elves on brinks of fountains, mirth to shar;,
Now seen with love-lorn lillies weeping,
Now with a blushing rose sleeping,
While fays, from forth their chambers peeping,
Cry "O rare!"