1766 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Cunningham

J. R., "To Mr. John Cunningham, on reading his Pastorals" St. James's Chronicle (15 April 1766).



The Swain, whose Footsteps love to stray
O'er the fresh Glade and flow'ry Plain,
In Innocence serenely gay,
Will listen to thy artless Strain.
Thy Lays are sweetly form'd to please,
They flow with Elegance and Ease.

The Vales that in their Verdure glow
With variegated Beauty crown'd,
The gentle Gales that fluttering blow,
The murmuring Fountain's soothing Sound:
All, all to thee as Themes belong;
They swell the Beauties of thy Song.

Or, if to nobler Themes you rise,
(For nobler Themes might suit your Skill)
You charm us with a new Surprise,
You raise the Passions at your will.
By Genius wrought, devoid of Art,
'Tis Nature's language to the Heart.

Time shall reprieve thy gentle Lays,
And bid them future Ages charm:
Some future Bard shall sing thy Praise,
His Strains with glowing Ardour warm:
Lays, he with Rapture shall explore,
Such as yourself had sung before.