Elegy, Written on Valentine Morning.

A Collection of Poems by Several Hands. Vol. 6 [Robert Dodsley, ed.]


23 quatrains signed "****" in the antique manner: "Ere these my rustic hands a garland twine, | Ere yet my tongue indite a simple song, | For her I mean to hail my Valentine, | Sweet maiden, fairest of the virgin throng."

James Boswell: "I related a dispute between Goldsmith and Mr. Robert Dodsley, one day when they and I were dining at Tom Davies's, 1762. Goldsmith asserted, that there was no poetry produced in this age. Dodsley appealed to his own Collection, and maintained, that though you could not find a palace like Dryden's Ode on St. Cecilia's Day, you had villages composed of very pretty houses; and he mentioned particularly The Spleen JOHNSON. 'I think Dodsley gave up the question. He and Goldsmith said the same thing; only he said it in a softer manner than Goldsmith did; for he acknowledged that there was no poetry, nothing that towered above the common mark. You may find wit and humour in verse, and yet no poetry'" Life of Johnson (1791); ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 3:44.

Raymond Dexter Havens: "Two pieces [in Dodsley] by an anonymous author, An Elegy, written on Valentine Morning and The Dowager (vi. 217-25), also have at times an Elizabethan ring; the first shows the influence of Spenser's Epithalamion" "Changing Taste in the Eighteenth Century" PMLA 44 (1929) 527.

Hark, thro' the sacred silence of the night,
Loud Chanticleer doth sound his clarion shrill,
Hailing with song the first pale gleam of light,
That floats the dark brow of yon eastern hill.

Bright star of morn, oh! leave not yet the wave,
To deck the dewy frontlet of the day,
Nor thou, Aurora, quit Tithonus' cave,
Nor drive retiring darkness yet away,

Ere these my rustic hands a garland twine,
Ere yet my tongue indite a simple song,
For her I mean to hail my Valentine,
Sweet maiden, fairest of the virgin throng.

Sweet is the morn, and sweet the gentle breeze
That fans the fragrant bosom of the spring,
Sweet chirps the lark, and sweeter far than these
The gentle love-song gurgling turtles sing.

Oh let the flowers be fragrant as the morn,
And as the turtle's song my ditty sweet:
Those flowers my woven chaplet must adorn,
That ditty must my waking charmer greet.

And thou, blest saint, whom choral creatures join
In one enlivening symphony to hail,
Oh be propitious, gentle Valentine,
And let each holy tender sigh prevail.

Oh give me to approach my sleeping love,
And strew her pillow with the freshest flowers,
No sigh unhallow'd shall my bosom move,
Nor step prophame pollute my true-love's bowers.

At sacred distance only will I gaze,
Nor bid my unreproved eye refrain,
Mean while my tongue shall chaunt her beauty's praise,
And hail her sleeping with the gentlest strain.

"Awake my fair, awake, for it is time;
Hark, thousand songsters rise from yonder grove,
And rising carol this sweet hour of prime,
Each to his mate, a roundelay of love.

"All nature sings the hymeneal song,
All nature follows, where the spring invites;
Come forth my love, to us these joys belong,
Ours is the spring, and all her young delights.

"For us she throws profusely forth her flowers,
Which in fresh chaplets joyful I will twine;
Come forth my fair, oh do not lose these hours,
But wake, and be my faithful Valentine.

"Full many an hour, all lonely have I sigh'd,
Nor dared the secret of my love reveal,
Full many a fond expedient have I tried
My warmest wish in silence to conceal.

"And oft to far retired solitude
All mournfully my slow step have I bent,
Luxurious there indulg'd my musing mood,
And there alone have given my sorrows vent.

"This day resolv'd I dare to plight my vow,
This day, long since the feast of love decreed,
Embolden'd will I speak my flame, nor thou
Refuse to hear how sore my heart does bleed."

Yet if I should behold my love awake,
Ah frail resolves, ah whither will ye fly?
Full well I know I shall not silence break,
But struck with awe almost for fear shall die.

Oh no, I will not trust a fault'ring speech
In broken phrase an aukward tale to tell,
A tale, whose tenderness no tongue can reach,
Nor softest melody can utter well.

But my meek eye, best herald to my heart,
I will compose to soft and downcast look,
And at one humble glance it shall impart
My love, nor fear the language be mistook.

For she shall read (apt scholar at this lore)
With what fond passion my true bosom glows,
How hopeless of return I still adore,
Nor dare the boldness of my wish disclose.

Should she then smile, — yet ah! she smiles on all,
Her gentle temper pities all distress;
On every hill, each vale, the sun-beams fall,
Each herb, and flow'r, each tree, and shrub they bless.

Alike all nature grateful owns the boon,
The universal ray to all is free;
Like fond Endymion should I hope the moon,
Because among the rest she shines on me?

Hope, vain presumer, keep, oh keep away:
Ev'n if my woe her gentle bosom move,
Pity some look of kindness may display;
But each soft glance is not a look of love.

Yet heav'nly visitant, thou dost not quit
Those bow'rs where angels sweet division sing,
Nor deignest thou on mortal shrine to sit
Alone, for round thee ever on the wing,

Glad choirs of loves attend, and hov'ring wait
Thy mild command; of these thy blooming train
Oh bid some sylph in morning dreams relate,
Ere yet my love awake, my secret pain.