1729
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Piscatory Eclogues: VIII. The Fowlers.

Piscatory Eclogues: an Essay to introduce new Rules, and new Characters, into Pastoral. To which is prefix'd, a Discourse in Defence of this Undertaking. With Practical and Philosophical Notes.

Rev. Moses Browne


The fowlers offer a pair of love-laments, the first invoking the love-charms popularized by Theocritus. Critics were fond of discussing what sort of characters were appropriate to "pastoral" poetry — shepherds only, or goatherds, swineherds, reapers, foresters, fishers, soldiers? The poem is dedicated "To the right honourable Lady Talbot."

"ARGUMENT. Two Swains who are exercised in Birding, while they are watching their Nets, amuse themselves with repeating each of them a Song. The first recites a kind of Magical Incantation, supposed to have been used by a slighted Shepherdess to regain her absent Lover who had forsaken her. His Companion entertains him with a sort of condoling Sonnet, that had been made on the unhappy Passion and Despair of an unfortunate Friend. This Eclogue, it will be easily observed, consists of different Characters from the rest, and was designedly introduced, as a Tryal how a Subject of this new and unattempted Nature might be intermixed with the Pastoral Kind."

Bonamy Dobree: "He on the whole eschews singing competitions, love-plaints, and so on, being concerned rather to versify The Compleat Angler, which he later edited, with 'improvements': his verses might be called fishing georgics in eclogue form. Except for the subject, there is nothing original about them; the verse and the diction are fatiguingly familiar" English Literature in the Early Eighteenth Century (1959) 144.



THYRSIL, LANERET.

If in thy bright, tho' less exalted, Sphere,
My youthful Verse has won thy gentle Ear;
While higher rais'd, more Influence to dispense,
Thy Sex's Charms, improv'd by manly Sense;
O! of thy gracing Smile ambitious long,
Will fav'ring TALBOT hear my riper Song?

Two Fowlers met beneath a fragrant Shade,
Which the close Boughs of blooming Hawthorn made.
'Twas early Dawn, when yet the glimm'ring Light
But dimly pierc'd the scatt'ring Brown of Night.
Now while their Nets were spread along the Mead,
Ere yet the gath'ring Covy came to feed,
The listless Swains the fav'ring Leisure chuse,
Responsively to tune the rural Muse:
Scorn'd Melite's enchanting Pow'r they tell,
And how the Love-despairing Nisus fell.
Of Astril had they learn'd the melting Strain,
By Turns they listen, and by Turns complain.

LANERET.
Forsaken Melite's unruly smart,
O Thyrsil, hear! and what her spelly Art.—
Still, cruel Boy, must I thy Scorn upbraid,
And own, in vain, a Passion unrepay'd?
Nor Pray'rs he hears, nor Vows his breast assail:
Begin my Rites; — ye magic Rites prevail.
Inconstant Moon, fair Wand'rer, change his Mind,
Or make me scorn, or make my Tyrant kind.

This Coronal my drooping Brows shall shade,
Of Laurel, Yew, and budding Vervain made,
A triple Mixture; thrice I turn around,
Thrice rake the Fires, and sprinkle thrice the Ground.
Uneven Measures bind the mazy Charm,
And frozen Breasts of icy Hate disarm.
Inconstant Moon, fair Wand'rer, change his Mind,
Or make me scorn, or make my Tyrant kind.

Galessa, bring the Bowl; this Swallow's Heart,
All warm, I to the mingled Draught impart,
Of potent Use his wayward Mind to turn;
And add this Sparrow's Gore to make him burn.
Judge, Maid, if needless is my wakeful Care,
For me he slights, and mocks my fond Despair.
Nine tedious Days has he my sight forbore,
And will revisit Melite no more.
In Shades remote he wears his Hours away,
To watch his Nets and call the feath'ry Prey.
Ye Birds of Air, his treach'rous Call despise,
Fly his false Snare, as me the Charmer flies.
Inconstant Moon, fair Wand'rer, change his Mind,
Or make me scorn, or make my Tyrant kind.

With Birds of Night I brim the Spel-fill'd Bowl,
The Batt obscene, and day-deterring Owl.
Night drowns Remembrance in forgetful Shades,
Night the Love-troubled Mind to rest persuades.
The Sufferer's Woes, and Maids that pining weep,
She soothes in Silence, and relieves in Sleep.
Inconstant Moon, fair Wand'rer, change his Mind,
Or make me scorn, or make my Tyrant kind.

In Woods the curring Nightingale is found,
Larks love the Meads, and Quails the corny Ground,
The Throstle to the ferny Heath is true,
And Swans to Floods, and Melite to you.—
See how the swarming Rooks for Flight prepare,
Their Croaks, and black'ning Pinions sound in air;
A lucky Sign! and see, my Swain returns,
He melts, he murmurs, and with Love he burns.
Inconstant Moon, fair Wand'rer, change his Mind,
Or make me scorn, or make my Tyrant kind.

THYRSIL.
Sweet flows the Verse, as is the theme it paints;
Grief saddens mine; to me the mournful Plaints,
The mournful Plaints for Nisus' Fate belong—
Alternate Muses smile on Thyrsil's Song!

O Phylla, as the cooing Turtle fair,
And slow as the unpitying Hawk to spare;
Subtle as Water-Fowl, unfix'd as Wind,
And sullen, as the Nightingale confin'd!
Yet, make thy Nisus of thy Charms possess'd,
Cheer thy brown Love, and heal his bleeding Breast.
What tho' the sun-burnt Swain, in summer Fields,
To the hot Air his prideless Beauty yields,
While to his Springes he allures the Prize;
Slight not his Colour, nor his Flame despise.
How aptly, beauteous Maid, might you unite
His Sallow, graceful to thy purer White.
Pale Willows, by the Elm, are fairer seen,
The lighter heighten'd by the deeper green;
And Alders in the Forest lovelier shew,
When wedded to the Hazel's duskier Hue.—
My Voice, my Reed, shall in their Turns complain;
Here mix, my moving Pipe, thy sweetly mournful Strain.

Who knows like him the wheaten Straws to lime?
Or differing Notes of various Birds to chime?
When best to climb for Nests the leafy Grove?
Or drive in stubble-lands the Pheasant Drove?
How to his Nets the running Powts to guide?
Or plant his Trammels by the River Side?
By thee, when dar'd the wasteful Hern essay
To beat the reedy Shores for fishy Prey?
Now waves thy bare-Hook in the dallying Wind,
Thy Frauds are obvious to the wiley Kind;
The Hern on wasteful Wing may beat the Shore;
Thee, Guardian Swain, the fishy Tribes deplore!
My Voice, my Reed, shall in their Turns complain;
Here mix, my moving Pipe, thy sweetly mournful Strain.

Why rashly would'st thou dare with vent'rous Aim,
Untry'd in Love, to trust so wild a Flame?
The Barnacle ne'er quits the plasy Mud,
But keeps her Sounding in the shallow Flood.
Linnets on high their Eyries never make,
But harbour lowly in the fuzzy Brake.
When shall the Chaffinch on the Main-Sea brood,
Or Halcyons nest their offspring in the wood?
All things, by Nature taught, their station know
But thou art fond to tempt unpractis'd Woe.
Vain is the Hope to taste of Pleasure more,
The Heart love-thrall'd, no Absence can restore.
My Voice, my Reed, shall in their Turns complain;
Here mix, my moving Pipe, thy sweetly mournful Strain.

Ah! ever lost, and ever to be mourn'd!
By Hope deserted, and by Phylla scorn'd;
With thee shall I no more the Game invite,
Or sound the Low-Bell in the Field by Night,
By reedy Brooks the meshy Toils display,
Or in the moory Fenn the Springes lay.
The lavish Lark at muting Time shall sing,
Or dar'd, before the Hobby, take to wing,
Ere Phylla shall be soften'd by thy Pain,
Or thou thy vaded Happiness regain.
For thee the Fisher on the green-Sea-Deep,
And Birdsman in the Osier Copse shall weep;
The pitying Nymphs with Flow'rs thy Bier shall strew,
And Thyrsil's Voice and Reed their moving Plaint renew.
My Voice, my Reed, shall in their Turns complain;
Here mix, my moving Pipe, thy sweetly mournful Strain.

Now rose the Wood-Lark from her hilly Nest,
And blith in air her wooing Notes express'd;
The Fowlers their untimely Songs reclaim,
Couch in the Shrubs, and watch the settling Game.

[Poems (1739) 115-24]