1753
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Eclogue the Second. Alexis.

The Works of Virgil, in Latin and English. The original Text correctly printed from the most authentic Editions, collated for this Purpose. The Aeneid translated by the Rev. Mr. Christopher Pitt, the Eclogues and Georgics, with Notes on the Whole, by the Rev. Mr. Joseph Warton. 4 Vols.

Virgil, trans. Joseph Warton


Gentleman's Magazine: "Of Dr. Warton's Eclogues and Georgics it may be said that they convey the sense of their originals with greater exactness and perspicuity than any other translations we have; that their versification is easy and harmonious, and their style correct and pure; yet, if read for themselves, they are inferior, as pleasing poems, to the similar performances of Dryden" 70 (March 1800) 287.

Argument: "The doubts and fears, the pains and uneasinesses of a desponding lover, are here painted in the most glowing colours. But the object is unfortunately a beautiful youth; on which account Virgil hath been suspected and accused of an abominable vice. Mr. Bayle hath defended him against this charge with great justness and solidity. 'The passion for boys (says he) was not less common in the pagan times than that for girls, so that a writer of eclogues might make his shepherds talk, according to this fashion, as we at present make the heroes and heroines of romances speak; that is to say, without its being a sign that he related his own adventures, or approved the passions he mentioned. Our best French romances have been composed by maids or married women. Would it be reasonable to say that they write the history of their own amours, or that they approve their heroines suffering themselves to be so sensibly affected with the passion of love?' Bayle's Dict. Art. Virg" 1:63.



Young Corydon with hopeless love ador'd
The fair Alexis, fav'rite of his lord.
Mid' shades of thickest beech he pin'd alone,
To the wild woods and mountains made his moan,
Still day by day, in incoherent strains,
'Twas all he could, despairing told his pains.

Wilt thou ne'er pity me, thou cruel youth,
Unmindful of my verse, my vows, and truth?
Still dear Alexis, from my passion fly?
Unheard and unregarded must I die?
Now flocks in cooling shades avoid the heats,
And the green lizard to his brake retreats,
Now Thestylis the thyme and garlick pounds,
And weary reapers leave the sultry grounds,
Thee still I follow o'er the burning plains
And join the shrill Cicada's plaintive strains:
Were it not better calmly to have borne
Proud Amaryllis' or Menalcas' scorn?
Tho' he was black, and thou art heav'nly fair?
Too much to trust thy beauteous hue beware!
The privet's silver flow'rs we still neglect,
But dusky hyacinths with care collect.
Thou know'st not whom thou scorn'st — what snowy kine,
What luscious milk, what rural stores are mine!
Mine are a thousand lambs in yonder vales,
My milk in summer's drought, nor winter fails;
Nor sweeter to his herds Amphion sung,
While with his voice Boeotia's mountains rung;
Nor am I so deform'd! myself I view'd
On the smooth surface of the glassy flood,
By winds unmov'd, and be that image true,
I dread not Daphnis' charms, tho' judg'd by you.

O that you lov'd the fields and shady grots,
To dwell with me in bowers, and lowly cots,
To drive the kids to fold, the stags to pierce;
Then should'st thou emulate Pan's skilful verse,
Warbling with me in woods; 'twas mighty Pan
To join with wax the various reeds began;
Pan, the great god of all our subject plains,
Protects and loves the cattle and the swains;
Nor thou disdain, thy tender rosy lip
Deep to indent with such a master's pipe.
To gain that art how much Amyntas try'd!
This pipe Damoetas gave me as he dy'd;—
Seven joints it boasts — Be thine this gift, he said—
Amyntas envious sigh'd, and hung the head—
Besides, two dappled kids, which late I found
Deep in a dale with dangerous rocks around,
For thee I nurse; with these, O come and play!
They drain two swelling udders every day.
These Thestylis hath begg'd, but begg'd in vain;
Now be they her's, since you my gifts disdain.
Come, beauteous boy! the nymphs in baskets bring
For thee the loveliest lillies of the spring;
Behold for thee the neighb'ring Naiad crops
The violet pale, and poppy's fragrant tops,
Narcissus' buds she joins with sweet jonquils,
And mingles cinnamon with daffodils;
With tender hyacinths of darker dyes,
The yellow marigold diversifies.
Thee, with the downy quince, and chesnuts sweet,
Which once my Amaryllis lov'd, I'll greet;
To gather plumbs of glossy hue, will toil;
These shall be honour'd if they gain thy smile.
Ye myrtles too I'll crop and verdant bays,
For each, so plac'd, a richer scent conveys.
O Corydon, a rustic hind thou art!
Thy presents ne'er will touch Alexis' heart!
Give all thou canst, exhaust thy rural store,
Iolas, thy rich rival offers more;
What have I spoke? betray'd by heedless thought,
The boar into my crystal springs have brought!
Wretch that I am! to the tempestuous blast
O I have given my blooming flowers to waste!

Whom dost thou fly? the gods of heav'n above,
And Trojan Paris deign'd in woods to rove;
Let Pallas build, and dwell in lofty towers,
Be our delight the fields and shady bowers:
Lions the wolves, and wolves the kids pursue,
The kids sweet thyme — and I still follow you.
Lo! labouring oxen spent with toil and heat,
In loosen'd traces from the plough retreat,
The sun is scarce above the mountains seen,
Lengthening the shadows o'er the dusky green;
But still my bosom feels not evening cool,
Love reigns uncheck'd by time, or bounds, or rule.
What frenzy, Corydon, invades thy breast?
Thy elms grow wild, thy vineyard lies undrest;
No more thy necessary labours leave,
Renew thy works, and osier-baskets weave:
If this Alexis treat thee with disdain,
Thoul't find another, and a kinder swain.

[1:63-72]