Spring. From the Italian.

Scots Magazine 18 (February 1760) 89.


21 quatrains, in the octosyllabic measure, and in something of the manner, of Milton's L'Allegro, not signed. The poet gives no Italian source for this pastoral description of a mountain landscape at the turning of the year: "She comes! behold, o'er yonder hill | The rising verdure marks her way; | Now let the pipe exert its skill, | And virgin-voices chant the lay." The middle-eighteenth century marked a turning point in British interest in things Italian, a not inconsequential development in Romantic poetry. A generation later, Robert Merry, Bertie Greatheed, and Robert Parsons would launch the Della Cruscan movement with their similar imitations of Milton published in the Florence Miscellany (1785).

Come, O haste thee, beauteous Spring!
To deck, once more, the teeming earth;
Come, O haste, and with thee bring,
Gentle Love, and smiling Mirth.

The melting frosts bedew the way,
Where-e'er thy flow'ry footsteps tread;
The morning-breezes round thee play,
Perfumes the fluttering zephyrs spread.

Ye gentle maids, your welcome guest,
The Spring, with solemn rites, receive;
At whose arrival, every breast,
With soft desires, begins to heave.

She comes! behold, o'er yonder hill
The rising verdure marks her way;
Now let the pipe exert its skill,
And virgin-voices chant the lay.

By thee the trees with leaves are dress'd;
By thee the rivers freely flow;
To thee, their patroness confess'd,
The rural gods their pleasures owe.

Our flocks, within the wintry fold
Scarce shelter'd from the beating rains,
At thy approach, forget the cold,
New vigour dancing in their veins.

At thy approach, the joyful steer
Ranges the meeds with wanton pride;
Or feeds secure, regarding near
The fav'rite heifer at his side.

By thee, from yon bleak mountain's head
Torrents descend of melted snow;
Impatient, the new waters lead
Their winding path to vales below.

There, first, the stream abates its force;
And, wand'ring thro' th' enamel'd mead,
Glides slowly, with unwilling course,
As loth to leave so sweet a bed.

For thee, adorn the smiling field
Wide-waving seas of rising corn,
Which, to th' industrious farmer yield
The promise of a rich return;

Who now remembers, with delight
How dear this pleasant prospect cost;
The painful day, the sleepless night,
The autumn-sun, the winter-frost.

By thee we view the swelling down
New robes of vary'd verdure wear;
By thee the mingled flow'rs are blown,
That beautify the infant year.

See how to charm the eye, the smell,
With various odours, various dyes,
The primrose, violet, daffadil,
In the rich pomp of nature, rise.

With these, by some clear fountain's side,
To native charms, the blooming maid
Shall join the arts of rural pride,
Adorn the bosom, deck the head.

While, lurking close behind the spray,
Th' enamour'd swain, unheeded pries;
Thy heart, fond youth, shall dearly pay,
The forfeit of thy curious eyes.

The silken line, and bearded hook,
The wily angler now prepares;
Now, to unpeople every brook,
The long neglected mash repairs:

Now, o'er the harmless finny race,
He spread the wide-destroying net;
Or now, with treacherous art, he lays
Death hid beneath the tempting bait.

In thee, sweet season, o'er the grass,
The wanton lambkins bound and play;
In thee, the shepherd and his lass
Fondly sport the livelong day.

The warbling birds, at early morn,
Proclaim thy welcome, beauteous Spring;
And grateful joy, in thy return,
By thee they love, to thee they sing.

But, see, the westward sun descends,
And scarcely leaves a doubtful day;
See, from the pastures, Thirsis bends,
He, and his counted flock, their way.

'Tis twilight now, and, ere 'tis long,
The night will spread its thickest gloom;
Here let us end our humble song,
Or else repeat the rest at home.

[p. 89]