1762
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Untitled, "Hither, swains! who, whistling blythe."]

Gratulatio Solennis Universitatis Oxoniensis ob Celsissimum Georgium Fred. Aug. Walliae Principem Georgio III. et Charlottae Reginae Auspicatissime Natum.

Rev. Samuel Nott


A particularly attractive lyric imitation of Milton's companion poems by a future Royal Chaplain. Samuel Nott perhaps remembers Spenser's "Aprill" as well. The Oxford gratulatory volume is filled with Spenserian and Miltonic diction and imagery, in recognition that with George III the Hanoverian dynasty was finally becoming naturalized.

Critical Review: "To the gentleman, who in his pretty little master's song, thus calls upon us 'Hither to these shades repair, | Merry lads, and merry fair! [...]' we would humbly recommend the works of the famous Namby-pamby poet, and that part of Swift's Bathos, which treats on the stile called the Infantine" (1763) 35-36.



Hither swains! who, whistling blythe,
Drive the team, or wield the scythe,
Hither Nymphs! who late were seen
Rakeing the new-shaven green,
Hither to these shades repair,
Merry lads! and merry fair!
Hither come, and sport, and play,
This is Cupid's holy-day.

By the silver waves, that steal
Soft along yon winding vale,
By the radiant blaze of morn,
Gilding bright each pearly thorn,
By the silken gales, that fly
Wanton thro' the cloudless sky;
Hither come, and sport, and play,
This is Cupid's holy-day.

Hither from yon sunny bank,
Laughter, come, with many a prank!
Where beside the limpid spring
Murm'ring sweet, you gaily sing,
Where in zoneless vest you call
Echo from her moss-rob'd wall,
Hither come, and sport, and play,
This is Cupid's holy-day.

Here the Graces hand in hand,
Decent form the social band.
Here, in purest white array'd
Innocence, celestial maid,
Bids th' expanded soul to flow,
Bids the raptur'd bosom glow,
Bids us sport, and bids us play,
This is Cupid's holy-day.

Hither, clad in rural dress,
Every soft-ey'd shepherdess!
Hark! the youths impatient say,
Leave your cotts, and come away—
Come, O, come, ye virgin train!
Leave your cotts, and seek the plain,
Seek the plain, and sport, and play,
This is Cupid's holy-day.

Now in order meet advance,
Shift the foot, and weave the dance,
Trip it ev'ry well-match'd pair,
Mirthful, gay, and debonair,
While the trembling music flotes,
Richly wild, in sprightly notes.
While you carol, as you play,
This is Cupid's holy-day.

Grateful now the chorus raise
Io Hymen! to thy praise,
Io Hymen! be the song,
Ever bright! and ever young!
Hymen! whom in Cyprus' grove
Virtue form'd the friend of Love.
Sing of Hymen! sport, and play,
This is Cupid's holy-day.

Should a stranger list to know,
Whence our simple, rustic show?
Why in vain the corn demands,
Bending corn, the reaper's hands?
Why your balmy fingers bind
Chaplets that may scent the wind?
Tell him, as ye sport, and play,
This is Cupid's holy-day.

Tell him, from her sacred bow'r
Venus sends a fav'rite flow'r,
Such, as when, to bless the earth,
She gave her little urchin birth;
Say, there's not a god but gives
Fragrance to the rising leaves:
Hence you sport, and hence you play,
This is Cupid's holy-day.

Then, if aught in worth he's read,
Temper'd brave, or nobly bred,
Drop, ye clouds, your mildest dews,
Feed its stalk! and nurse its hues!
Ever may the buds be seen
Lively, blooming, fresh, and green!
Thus he'll wish; and sport, and play,
Hailing Cupid's holy-day!

[Sig Sv-S2v]