1742
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Eclogue the Third. Abra; or, the Georgian Sultana.

Persian Eclogues. Written for the Entertainment of the Ladies of Taurus. And now first translated, &c.

William Collins


Roger Lonsdale notes several echoes of Spenser in his Poems of Gray, Collins, and Goldsmith (1969).

John Scott of Amwell: "The third Eclogue is called Abra, or the Georgian Sultana, and represents a Persian monarch enamoured with a fair shepherdess, whom he raises to the Imperial throne. The human mind always dwells with complacence on the ideas of rural solitude, and cottage innocence: we afford a ready indulgence to the deception which annexes to those ideas, the idea of unmixed happiness; though experience convinces us that no such happiness is really existent. There is another favourite satisfaction which we derive from the contemplation of greatness elevating humble merit. A poem which describes these subjects in the most agreeable colours, cannot fail to interest the reader" "Collins's Oriental Eclogues" in Critical Essays (1785) 173-74.

Thomas Enort Smith: "His Persian Eclogues, which Doctor Warton informs us were written in his seventeenth year, while at Winchester College, would alone suffice to immortalize his name, since no poet of any nation (Virgil excepted) has attained an equal degree of popularity in the same species of composition. By asserting this, I do not seek to invalidate the reputation of other bards: the Progress of Love, in four parts, by Lord Lyttelton, is a pleasing specimen of the Pastoral Eclogue; and those of Walsh, particularly the admired one, lamenting the death of Mrs. Tempest, are entitled to high praise; yet, on a comparative view of either with those of Collins, impartiality must acknowledge they do not possess that originality of sentiment, that high wrought enthusiasm and beauty of language, which render those of Collins invaluable and unequalled" European Magazine 32 (December 1797) 413.

George Gilfallan: "Although he has so exquisitely described the Passions, the greatest want of his poetry is passion. He has the highest enthusiasm, but little human interest. His figures are warm with the breath of genius, but there is little of the life's-blood of heart about them. Hence his Oriental Eclogues, although full of fine description, are felt to be rather tame and stiff" Works of Goldsmith, Collins and T. Warton (1854) 83.

George Birkbeck Hill: "Early in 1759 Goldsmith, in The Present State of Polite Learning, ch. ix, after speaking of two neglected authors, continues: — 'But they are dead and their sorrows are over. The neglected author of The Persian Eclogues, which, however inaccurate, excel any in our language, is still alive. Happy if insensible of our neglect, not raging at our ingratitude'" in Johnson, Lives of the Poets (1905) 3:339n.

John Langhorne's Observations:

"That innocence, and native simplicity of manners, which, in the first eclogue, was allowed to constitute the happiness of love, is here beautifully described in its effects. The sultan of Persia marries a Georgian shepherdess, and finds in her embraces that genuine felicity which unperverted nature alone can bestow. The most natural and beautiful parts of this eclogue are those where the fair sultana refers with so much pleasure to her pastoral amusements, and those scenes of happy innocence in which she had passed her early years; particularly when, upon her first departure, 'Oft as she went, she backward turned her view, | And bade that crook and bleating flock adieu.' This picture of amiable simplicity reminds one of that passage, where Proserpine, when carried off by Pluto, regrets the loss of the flowers she has been gathering: 'Collecti flores tunicis cecidere remissis: | Tantaque simplicitas puerilibus adfuit annis, | Haec quoque virgineum movit jactura dolorem'" Poetical Works of Mr. William Collins (1765) 124-25.



SCENE, a Forest. TIME, the EVENING.

In Georgia's Land, where Tefflis' Tow'rs are seen,
In distant View along the level Green,
While Ev'ning Dews enrich the glitt'ring Glade,
And the tall Forests cast a longer Shade,
Amidst the Maids of Zagen's peaceful Grove,
Emyra sung the pleasing Cares of Love.

Of Abra first began the tender Strain,
Who led her Youth with Flocks upon the Plain:
At Morn she came those willing Flocks to lead,
Where Lillies rear them in the wat'ry Mead;
From early Dawn the live-long Hours she told,
'Till late at silent Eve she penn'd the Fold.
Deep in the Grove beneath the secret Shade,
A various Wreath of od'rous Flow'rs she made:
Gay-motley'd Pinks and sweet Junquils she chose,
The Violet-blue that on the Moss-bank grows;
All-sweet to Sense, the flaunting Rose was there;
The finish'd Chaplet well-adorn'd her Hair.

Great Abbas chanc'd that fated Morn to stray,
By Love conducted from the Chace away;
Among the vocal Vales he heard her Song,
And sought the Vales and echoing Groves among:
At length he found, and woo'd the rural Maid;
She knew the Monarch, and with Fear obey'd.
Be ev'ry Youth like Royal Abbas mov'd,
And ev'ry Georgian Maid like Abra lov'd.

The Royal Lover bore her from the Plain,
Yet still her Crook and bleating Flock remain:
Oft as she went, she backward turn'd her View,
And bad that Crook and bleating Flock Adieu.
Fair happy Maid! to other Scenes remove,
To richer Scenes of golden Pow'r and Love!
Go leave the simple Pipe, and Shepherd's Strain;
With Love delight thee, and with Abbas reign.
Be ev'ry Youth, &c.

Yet midst the Blaze of Courts she fix'd her Love,
On the cool Fountain, or the shady Grove;
Still with the Shepherd's Innocence her Mind
To the sweet Vale, and flow'ry Mead inclin'd;
And oft as Spring renew'd the Plains with Flow'rs,
Breath'd his soft Gales, and led the fragrant Hours,
With sure Return she sought the sylvan Scene,
The breezy Mountains, and the Forests green.
Her Maids around her mov'd, a duteous Band!
Each bore a Crook all-rural in her Hand:
Some simple Lay, of Flocks and Herds they sung,
With Joy the Mountain, and the Forest rung.
Be ev'ry Youth, &c.

And oft the Royal Lover left the Care,
And Thorns of State, attendant on the Fair:
Oft to the Shades and low-roof'd Cots retir'd,
Or sought the Vale where first his Heart was fir'd;
A Russet Mantle, like a Swain, he wore,
And thought of Crowns and busy Courts no more.
Be ev'ry Youth, &c.

Blest was the Life, that Royal Abbas led:
Sweet was his Love, and innocent his Bed.
What if in Wealth the noble Maid excel;
The simple Shepherd Girl can love as well.
Let those who rule on Persia's jewell'd Throne,
Be fam'd for Love, and gentlest Love alone:
Or wreath, like Abbas, full of fair Renown,
The Lover's Myrtle, with the Warrior's Crown.

Oh happy Days! the Maids around her say;
Oh haste, profuse of Blessings, haste away!
Be ev'ry youth, like Royal Abbas, mov'd;
And ev'ry Georgian Maid, like Abra, lov'd!

[pp. 15-19]