1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Cunningham

Robert Fergusson, A Poem to the Memory of John Cunningham (1773) 3-7.



Ye mournful MEANDERS and Groves,
Delight of the Muse and her Song;
Ye Grottos and dreeping Alcoves,
No Strangers to Corydon's Tongue.

Let each SYLVAN and DRYAD declare
His Themes and his Musick how dear,
Their Plaints and their Dirges prepare,
Attendant on Corydon's Bier.

The ECHO that join'd in the Lay,
So amorous, sprightly, and free,
Shall send forth the Sounds of Dismay,
And sigh with sad Pity for thee.

Wild wander his FLOCKS with the Breeze;
His REED can no longer controul;
His Numbers no longer can please,
Or send kind Relief to the Soul.

But long may they wander and bleat,
To Hills tell the Tale of their Woe;
The Woodlands the Tale shall repeat,
And the Waters shall mournfully flow.

For these were the Haunts of his Love,
The sacred Retreats of his Ease,
Where favourite Fancy would rove,
As wanton, as light, as the Breeze.

Her ZONE will discolour'd appear,
With fanciful Ringlets unbound,
A Face pale and languid she'll wear,
A Heart fraught with Sorrow profound.

The Reed of each Shepherd will mourn;
The Shades of Parnassus decay:
The Muses will dry their sad Urn,
Since 'reft of young Corydon's Lay.

To him every Passion was known
That throbb'd in the Breast with Desire;
Each gentle Affection was shown
In the soft sighing Songs of his Lyre.

Like the carroling Thrush on the Spray
In Music soft warbling and wild,
To Love was devoted each Lay,
In Accents pathetic and mild.

Let Beauty and Virtue revere,
And the Songs of the Shepherd approve,
Who felt, who lamented the Snare,
When repining at pityless Love.

The Summer but languidly gleams,
Pomona no comfort can bring,
Nor Vallies, nor Grottos, nor Streams,
Nor the May-born FLOURETS of Spring.

They have fled all with Corydon's Muse,
For his Brows to form Chaplets of woe,
Whose Reed oft awaken'd their Boughs
As the whispering Breezes that blow.

To many a fanciful Spring
His Lyre was melodiously strung;
While FAIRIES and FAUNS in a Ring
Have applauded the Swain as he sung.

To the chearful he usher'd his Smiles,
To the woeful his Sigh and his Tear;
A Condoler with Want and her Toils,
When the Voice of Oppression was near.

Tho' TITLES and WEALTH were his due,
Tho' Fortune denied the Reward;
Yet Truth and Sincerity knew
What the Goddess would never regard.

Avails ought the generous Heart,
Which Nature to Goodness design'd,
If Fortune denies to impart
Her kindly Relief to the Mind?

'Twas but faint the Relief to DISMAY,
The Cells of the wretched among;
Tho' Sympathy sung in the Lay,
Tho' Melody fell from his Tongue.

Let the favour'd of Fortune attend
To the Ails of the wretched and Poor:
Tho' Corydon's Lays could befriend,
'Tis Riches alone that can cure.

But they to Compassion are dumb,
To Pity their Voices unknown;
Near Sorrow they never can come,
'Till MISFORTUNE has mark'd them her own.

Now the Shades of the Evening depend;
Each Warbler is lull'd on the Spray;
The Cypress doth ruefully bend
Where the Corps of cold Corydon stay.

Adieu then the Songs of the Swain,
Let Peace still attend on his Shade;
And his Pipe that is dumb to his Strain,
In the Grave be with CORYDON laid.