1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Cunningham

Stephen George Kemble, "Cunningham, a Pastoral" Odes, Lyrical Ballads, and Poems (1809) 278-80.



When death our loved Corydon took,
And the muse mourn'd his absence in vain;
What shepherd, Palemon, partook
Not the plaint of thy elegant strain?

Thy numbers so feelingly glide,
Thy sweetness so graces his lays,
That the swains never yet could decide
Which most was deserving of praise.

Sure his spirit awaited thy verse,
For his loss only thou could'st atone;
And princes might envy his hearse,
Could Palemon their fate so bemoan.

But he too has left us to grieve,
To oblivion for ever consign'd,
Which were better than riches to leave,
Are the virtues that lived in his mind.

Religion he painted so mild,
She soon was the cottage delight,
And vice from her covert beguiled,
Was hooted away from her sight.

Since which with the angel has staid,—
Or the shepherds have spread the report;—
Content grown so fond of the shade,
She's become quite a stranger at court.

These deities hearsay gives out,
Make, early as morning appears,
The grave of Palemon their route,
And bedew it with heav'nly tears.

From these in nice order now grows,
Every flower uncultured they bloom;
He prank'd out the lily and rose,
And they blend all their sweets on his tomb.

Hence a moral the hamlet may learn,
For still to the villagers view,
The perfume embracing his urn,
Is wafted o'er branches of yew.