1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Allan Cunningham

Anna Brownell Jameson, "Heroines of Modern Poetry" Loves of the Poets (1829; 1857) 511-12.



Then we may tell who was the "Bonnie Jean," sung by Allan Cunningham, whose destructive charms are so pleasantly, so naturally touched upon.

Sair she slights the lads—
Three are like to die;
Four in sorrow listed,—
And five flew to sea!

This rural beauty, who caused such terrible devastation, and who it is said, first made a poet of her lover, became afterwards his wife; and in her matronly character, she inspired that beautiful little effusion of conjugal tenderness, "The Poet's Bridal Song." When first published, it was almost universally copied, and committed to memory; and Allan Cunningham may not only boast that he has woven a wreath "to grace his Jean," "While rivers flow and woods are green," but that he has given the sweet wife, seated among her children in sedate and matronly loveliness, an interest even beyond that which belongs to the young girl he has described with raven locks and cheeks of cream, driving rustic admirers to despair, or lingering with her lover at eve,

Amid the falling dew,
When looks were fond, and words were few!

Such is the charm of affection, and truth, and moral feeling, carried straight into the heart by poetry!