1765
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Landscape.

Scots Magazine 27 (March 1765) 154-55.

W. H.


A blank-verse exercise in descriptive poetry, signed "W. H." on the model of Milton's Il Penseroso. As dusk falls, the poet encounters a troop of fairies and is addressed by their queen in the octosyllabic couplets of Milton's original.

Headnote: "Sir, That Poetry and Painting are intimately connected, is a trite observation; an observation which holds more closely in that sort of poetry we call 'descriptive.' Here indeed they differ very little: for though they are addressed to different senses, they excite the same sensations; and they are, or ought to be, copied from the same original, Nature. I have sometimes heightened the amusement of a walk in attempts of this kind; a specimen of which I now send you; borrowing at the same time, I hope not unjustly, the name which the sister art hath affixed to her productions of a similar sort. W. H." p. 154.



THE FIELDS. AN AUGUST EVENING.
The noontide heat is quench'd; the redd'ning sun
Now far retires to where the distant copse
Covers the western hill; now may I walk
Unshaded, where the shepherd leads his flock
Adown the velvet bank. Glad from their toils
The reapers come, while rugged Labour stays
His iron hand; and Mirth, that loves to dwell
With careless Vacancy, now prompts the jest,
Or guileful prank, or tunes his artless song
Of love be sure, or what to love betides;
For what were songs to maids that taught not love?
Behind another troop; theirs the glad sound
Of dance-enticing pipe: see how they mix
In busy circle! Weariness himself,
Worn with the fervid heat of toilsome day,
Shakes the dull languor from his stiffening limbs,
And joins the jocund throng. Peace to the joy
Of innocence, that gilds the Stygian gloom
Of Misery, and beams her seraph smile
On else unlighten'd wo. The whistling hind
Drives his light team along the dusty path,
Or leads his cattle to the pool that sleeps
Beneath the drooping shade.

Now have I gain'd the summit of the slope:
How mine eye wanders o'er the varied round,
In sweet confusion lost! where shall I gaze,
But where the beauties of the peaceful scene
Delight my soul? groves, meads, and fertile fields
Studded with rural seats: see where yon bank
Reclines its beauties to the whisp'ring sea,
That holds its picture on the glassy tide,
Where floats the fisher's skiff; the setting sun
Gleams faintly red upon the ancient tow'r,
Which crowns the summit of the shaggy rock,
Peopl'd by screaming sea-fowls; from beneath
The slow-wing'd crane moves heavily o'er the wave,
And seeks the shallows of the upland brook,
Where feed the speckl'd fry, his wonted prey.

Now bark'd the shepherd's dog: his humble cot
In the green hollow stands; while from its top
The rising smoke to yonder downy streak
In wreathy volumes rolls: with smiling haste
The lisping girl tells her hungry sire,
His supper waits. — If such the meals of kings,
Our fate were ill proportion'd. Poverty,
A mark too mean for Fortune's bitterest shafts,
Takes what it merely needs, nor wishes more:
The great are ever begging at the shrine
Of worse than Beggary, Disease and Death.

See thro' the blue air where the host of rooks
Wins its slow way to yonder neigh'bring wood.
Now in wide circles, from the giddy height,
Downward they roll, in busy clamour join'd
The hoarser rooks, trebl'd by screaming choughs,
While all the myriads swell the last acclaim;
Then silent sink upon the waving shade.

Now my view measures the horizon round,
Where stoops the azure arch, (so look'd of old
The rival-brothers, when the vulture's flight
Proclaim'd the founder of Imperial Rome),
From where the smoky vapours dim the East,
To where the sun hath dipp'd; the marshall'd clouds
Their spiry ridges, tipt with curling gold,
Lift to the purple sky: yon burnish'd star,
That bids the evening wear a duskier hue,
Beams on her flaky brow.

Hark! how the murmur of the water-fall
Pours its soft music on the stagnant air.
Or was't the whisper of an infant breeze
Crept thro' the trembling shade; for every Zephyr sleeps
Within his rosy bower; Evening bids
Her reign be hush'd; and silken Silence floats
Upon her dewy wing; the bee's small hum,
That hies her loaded with each flow'ret's sweets,
To where the green bank shades her mossy cell,
The loudest sound I hear. Such is the scene,
And such the silent time, when Fancy works
E'en with inchantment's force. Late as I walk'd
Within the hollow of these shelving banks,
Methought soft Music caught my listening ear;
Anon, before me on the sward arose
A Fairy troop, with mantles ever green
And golden sandall'd feet, with which they wove
The mystic dance: before them one appear'd
More eminently tall; and thrice she wav'd
Her silver wand; and thrice the music ceas'd,
Her gay attendants circled round, and thus
She spoke, upon her lips amazement hung.

Stranger, if thy soul be such
Grieving little, joying much;
If thy brow be void of care,
And thy bosom spotless fair;
If thou car'st not much for wealth,
Having mirth, and having health;
If thou toil'st not with the great,
Never never satiate,
Sleepless at the midnight-hour,
With the boundless thirst of pow'r:
Such, O Stranger! if thy mind
To such we Fays are ever kind;
Turn thee, wheresoever bent;
Turn, and join our merriment.

If thou lov'st at noon to rove
Thro' the cool sequester'd grove,
Or the evening mild and still
Down the green slope of the hill,
Or beneath the flow'ry steep,
Lull'd by tinkling rill to sleep;
If thou lov'st pale Hecate's beam
Quivering on the pebbly stream;
If thou lov'st to glut thy sight
With the star-illumin'd night,
When the gleamy meteors play,
Shooting cross the milky way:
Turn thee, wheresoever bent,
Turn, and join our merriment.

These are they that trip the green,
These are they, and I their queen;
We that ever sportive play
In a live-long holiday,
We that from the rose's lip
Sweetest softest nectars sip,
We that ride thro' summer's air
On the trembling gossamer,
We that banish four-fac'd Hate,
Fell Despite and fierce Debate,
While upon the cheek of Love
Ever smiling dimples move:
Such, if such can win assent,
Stranger, is our merriment.

Nor could I answer aught; for raptures held
Mine every sense, when, lo, the tinkling bell,
Whose peal ev'n now sweet echo roll'd along,
That fir wood's side, cut off my golden dream,
Chid my delay, and told the night was come.

[pp. 154-55]