1749 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Isaac Watts

Portius, "A Pastoral Elegy on the Death of I. Watts, D.D." British Magazine 4 (April 1749) 148-49.



What time the sun 'gan shine with milder ray,
Each closing shoot drank up the moist'ning dew,
Each head reclin'd, then wept the sickning day
Of cowslip pale, and glowing vi'let blue.
Beneath a spreading oak then sat the swain
Thyrsis the soothest shepherd of the plain.

His scrip which erst adown his graceful side,
Ty'd with green ribbon o'er his shoulders hung,
Together with his crook, the shepherd's pride,
Now lay unheeded the high grass among:
His charming pipe no more adorn'd his hand,
And drooping round, his once brisk flock did stand.

The trickling tears ran swiftly down his face,
And dismal groans bursts from his lab'ring breast;
His eyes much swoln had lost their former grace,
Yet this his boundless grief but ill exprest.
Thus sat he mourning, and his ev'ry groan
Would sure have drawn forth tears from eyes of stone.

As thus he griev'd, Alexis brisk and gay,
The chiefest shepherd of the neighb'ring vale,
Who heretofore was charm'd with Thirsis lay,
And oft had heard him tell his am'rous tale;
Pass'd by and thus address'd the shepherd swain,
And beg'd that he would let him know his pain.

ALEXIS.
O Thyrsis! why, why art thou here in tears?
Has Daphne, lovely Daphne prov'd untrue?
Or has the fox, the author of our fears
Thy fav'rite lamb, adorn'd with ribbons slew?
Speak, Thirsis speak, and to me strait disclose
The fatal source, whence spring up all thy woes.

THYRSIS.
Nor is my Daphne false, nor is my lamb
Yet stolen by the fox forth from the field:
For know Alexis I too constant am,
For things like these my mind to grief to yield.
Alas! the glory of our plains is fled,
For know Alexis, shepherd Isaac's dead.

ALEXIS.
Is Isaac dead! then mourn him all ye groves,
Let your bright leaves in darker shades be seen:
Nor let the little cupids and the loves
Be more within you as they erst have been.
And you ye muses all your loss deplore!
For ah your favour'd son is now no more!

THYRSIS.
Isaac is dead who oft attun'd the lyre,
And unto songs of jovisaunce it strung;
He caus'd the neighb'ring swains him to admire,
And listen joyful to him as he sung.
Who kept us from those wolves, who much us harm'd,
And sav'd our souls, whilst he our senses charm'd.

O let me, Isaac, ever grieve for thee,
And to my mind recal thy charming song,
Yea, let me still a constant mourner be,
And drag my days in heaviness along.
Now thou art gone, whose verse shall we admire?
Or, who can charm's with such poetic Fire?

ALEXIS.
O mourn not, Thyrsis, for he ever lives!
He ever reigns in endless joy above!
To him his father now his glory gives,
And pours upon him all his boundless love.
Besides, young Juba him succeeds below,
Then yield not, Thyrsis, thus thy mind to woe.

THYRSIS.
True, O Alexis, therefore let us sing,
The boundless love of our eternal god;
Let's pour our souls in praises to the king,
And tread the blessed path that Isaac's trod.
May god his spirit on young Juba pour,
Then Isaac's loss we never shall deplore.

ALEXIS.
But see, O Thyrsis, day declines apace!
So let us drive our flocks toward the fold;
The rain will us o'ertake in little space,
And make our tender lambs both wet and cold.
Come let us journey home, and as we go
Will pass to songs of joy, from songs of woe.