1768
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Elegy transposed from Spenser.

The Land of the Muses: A Poem, in the Manner of Spenser. With Poems on Several Occasions. By Hugh Downman, A.B.

Dr. Hugh Downman


A love-complaint in eleven elegiac stanzas. If Hugh Downman imitates a particular poem or passage in Spenser's works it has not been identified. Rather, Downman seems to imitate the plaintive melancholy of the Shepheardes Calender, perhaps with December in mind: "Thus car'd I not abroad to spread | Youth's plant when in its fairest prime, | But let it all neglected, shed | Both fruit and flower before its time."



When first before my youthful eyes,
I saw the form of Sylvia move,
I gaz'd upon her with surprise,
But not one thought had I of love.

My soul grew fond of fancies vain,
Tetchy and froward, nought could please,
Yet knew I not what gave me pain,
Nor thought it love, but some disease.

Soon as the beauty of the sky
Night had defac'd with pallid hue,
Striving to sleep I down should lie,
But sleep away far from me flew.

Instead thereof sad sighs and fears
About me cruel watch maintain'd,
Forth gush'd th' involuntary tears,
And Sorrow then triumphant reign'd.

If any drop of slumb'ring rest
Into my weary soul distill'd,
What frightful dreams would then infest!
What horrour through my bosom thrill'd!

Then up I from my bed should start,
And all my former grief renew,
Think on that image in my heart,
And all its heavenly charms review.

All night a stranger to repose,
To ease a stranger all the day,
No sports, no company I chose,
To Solitude a willing prey.

Thus car'd I not abroad to spread
Youth's plant when in its fairest prime,
But let it all neglected, shed
Both fruit and flower before its time.

Alas, should this be love, I cried!
Too late the fatal cause I found,
In vain each lenient art I tried,
Too deep had pierc'd the rankling wound.

Nor other cure had I for grief,
But my hard fortune to deplore,
To languish like the fallen leaf,
And feed with plaints th' impoison'd sore.

Thus t'ward the silent grave I pac'd,
Thus by degrees decay'd my frame,
Till by the long and lingering waste,
I like a pined ghost became.

[pp. 65-67]