1760 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Susanna Duncombe

John Duncombe, "Kensington Gardens. A Pastoral" 1760 ca.; The Poetical Calendar (1763) 10:69-72,



When now the spring had burst, with genial power,
Each rosy bud, and open'd every flower,
Thrown his green mantle on the fields and woods,
And brush'd, with balmy gales, the curling floods,
Scarce had the sun dispers'd, with early ray,
The shades of night, and shed the dawn of day,
Scarce had the flocks their dew-dipt fleeces dried,
Or silent anglers reach'd the glassy tide,
When to those bowers, which oft a monarch's care
With Britain's bliss, and Europe's ballance share,
To Kensington's fair bowers, by Love inspir'd,
With lonely step a pensive swain retir'd,
While the blithe bullfinch tun'd his mellow lay,
And the shrill blackbird whistled from the spray.

O for that Muse which first, in nervous strains,
Display'd the splendor of these fairy plains,
Where, by the moon, the dancing Fays were seen,
And royal Kenna glimmer'd on the green,
Eugenia then with equal charms should shine,
And Tickell's Kensington should yield to mine,
While, in a brake conceal'd, I now disclose
What there I heard, and tell the shepherd's woes.

"Ah! what avails it me that Nature spreads
Ambrosial fragrance o'er the verdant meads,
That from each bush melodious murmurs fly,
And soft aerial music fills the sky!
Nature, in vain your fragrant flowers you spread,
In vain your songsters warble o'er my head,
Nor flowers my eye, nor music charms the ear,
Not Eden's self can please 'till Eve appear.

"Blest with Eugenia, were I doom'd to seek
The barren hills of Scotland and the Peak,
By Fortune's frown to dreary deserts sent,
The Fells of Westmorland, or Wealds of Kent,
Even Fortune's frown her presence would beguile,
And make bleak hills and dreary deserts smile,
Invest each barren plain with bloomy pride,
And give those charms which Nature has denied.

"But far from her I seek these lonely bowers,
And sooth with rural tasks the tedious hours;
Pluck the pale primrose from its velvet bed,
Or stray where cowslips hang the dewy head,
And, pensive, listen to the rustic lay
Of jocund mowers chanting o'er their hay:
Now, wrapt in thought, and lost in devious shades,
With tuneful bards I court th' inspiring Maids;
With Thomson thro' each varying season rove,
Or mourn with Lyttelton in Hagley's grove;
Yet even their numbers my distress renew,
In Lucy my Eugenia's mind I view,
Or in Lavinia's blushing beauties trace
The glowing charms that deck her polish'd face,
And must these charms, I sighing cry,
Still be reveal'd alone to fancy's eye?

"Now pleas'd, I listen to the feather'd throng,
While Love inspires, and Nature tunes the song:
The lark, sweet leader of the glossy train,
Tells his shrill tale of love, nor tells in vain;
Hoarse thro' the wood the turtle strains her throat,
And cooes responsive to the ring-dove's note;
While the blithe linnet, in yon hawthorn-spray,
Delighted twitters her ecstatic lay:
To this soft theme each rising morn attends,
And evening hears it when her dew descends:
And can Eugenia, whom all charms adorn,
As evening mild, unclouded as the morn,
Sweet as the lark, high-pois'd in early air,
And as the linnet's downy plumage fair,
Can she her lover still regardless view,
Nor crown a passion like the turtle's true?
Oft to these plains enamour'd I retire,
Where thy proud turrets, Holland-House, aspire,
Where Addison, with courtly Warwick, stray'd,
Or with his Tickell moraliz'd the shade:
Here, on the prospect gazing with delight,
Hills, woods, and vallies, strain my wondering sight;
Here, tipt with gold, the glittering villas rise,
There, lost in smoke, they mingle with the skies:
But short the pleasure which these plains attends,
Vain the delight which even this prospect lends;
Birth, riches, grandeur, with contempt I view,
And wisdom, goodness, truth alone pursue;
I boast a love whose flame these objects guide,
Nor envy Addison his titled bride;
And undelighted all this landscape see,
While every thought, Eugenia, turns on thee,
And no kind vista points the fair retreat,
Where all these virtues now have fix'd their seat.

"But see! the lightning's momentary gleam
Darts thro' the trees, and glimmers on the stream,
And distant thunders, with an ample growl,
From themes of love and sorrow rouze my soul.
Then cease, fond swain! for hark! even now above
Heard is your sorrow, and approv'd your love;
The sympathising clouds condole your pain,
With you they murmur, and with you complain;
The soothing breezes to your sighs reply,
And pitying drops soft trickle from the sky.
Then fly, fond shepherd, from this gloomy grove,
And seek the covert of yon close alcove;
There, from all storms, a shelter you may find,
But Love, that raging tempest of the mind."