A cycle of four pastoral lyrics, each in a different measure. Pastoral poetry, generally thought to be quiescent in the late eighteenth century, was in fact diversifying itself in very creative ways. Luke Booker's poem owes little to the seasonal cycles of Spenser and Pope, treating as it does a georgic theme in a purely lyrical mode. But one might compare William Blakes' cycle of poems on the seasons, published in Poetical Sketches (1783). Like Blake's volume, Booker's contains considerable metrical variety.
In the preface Booker informs the reader that his poems "are the Offspring of a few tranquil, juvenile Hours, written for Amusement, as a Relaxation from more important Exercises. — Occurences in Life — between the Age of fifteen and twenty-one, either affecting his Feelings or Imagination — afforded him the Subjects; and his Heart — rather than his Head — dictated the ideas" iii.
Samuel Austin Allibone: "Luke Booker, 1762-1836, Rector of Tedstone-de-la-Mere, 1806, and of Dudley, 1812, published a number of theological and other works" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:219.
Lightly o'er the dewy fields,
Where her charms, gay nature yields,
Come, my Sylvia, hence away,
To invoke the vernal day.
Winter now, with gloomy train,
Holds no more his tyrant reign,—
Smiling SPRING, in chaplets gay,
Bids return the vernal day.
Hark! my fair, in yonder grove,
Th' universal song is love—
Hark! the sweet, — the love-taught lay
Hails aloud the vernal day.
View each blooming scene around!
Flora decks th' enamel'd ground;
Trees and plants their charms display,
To adorn the vernal day.
On each lawn, the playful lambs
Round about their fleecy dams,
Wanton, sport, and frisk and play,
At return of vernal day.—
Thus, each landscape, let's explore,
Till its term of beauty's o'er;
Then, my SYLVIA, hence away,
When no more is vernal day—
To the side of murmuring stream,
Devoted to pleasure and ease,
Unseen by the sultry beam,
Except thro' the breaks of the trees.
Where woodbines with roses entwine,
Unpilfer'd their sweets by the bee;
But left for soft zephyr to join,
And waft them untainted to thee.
Around us may linnets appear,
Nor wish from their station to fly;
Whose strains let enrapture my ear,
But nothing, save SYLVIA, my eye.
Such be the retreat we frequent,
Tranquillity's blessings to prove:
Our guests be Delight and Content,
Our diet — soft pledges of love.
Thus bless'd, and embow'r'd from heat,
How transient will SUMMER be made!
Alas! with a — sigh — I must greet
The time that dismantles our shade.
Now blighting winds, and mildew rain
Assail the beauties of the plain,
And lay their glories dead.—
O'er hill and dale — thro' wood and grove,
Where we, my fair, were wont to rove,
A leafy carpet's spread.
But blighting winds, not aught avail;
The fields unrob'd, deride the gale,
Destructive now now more:
For plenty bids the village smile,
And crowns the happy peasant's toil,
With Ceres' golden store.
And, in the sun's declining ray,
The vines their purple charms display,
Thro' leaves of russet hue:—
Hail! latest product of the year,
Whose pow'r can fainting nature cheer,
And Winter's dreary view.
From regions of eternal snow,
Lo! hoary WINTER seeks our land;
The mountain high — the valley low,
Alike declare his icy hand.
In shining fetters bound, the stream
No murmur lends to sooth the ear;
No warmth conveys the noon-tide beam,
Creation's torpid works to cheer.
No flow'r adorns the wasted plain,
Nor plants' fair verdure decks the lawn:
Grey mists usurp the wide domain,
And robe, with down, each tree and thorn.
The timid hare, from home to stray,
O'er woodland wild in search of fare
(Lest she her vestiges betray)
Kind instinct whispers to forbear.
Where sung the lark its matin strains,
The wint'ry fieldfare now is seen;
And dazzling snow makes white those plains,
Which once were dress'd in lovelier green.—
Thus diff'rent, SYLVIA, things appear;
In nature's scale ordain'd to move:—
Throughout the ever-rolling year,
The SEASONS change — but not my love.