1776
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Birth-Day, to Maria.

London Evening Post (18 January 1776).

Philo Brune


Twelve quatrains in the manner of William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad, signed "Philo Brune, Aldgate." In contrast to most poems in this series, The Birth-Day presents a happy lover: "Yet ye nymphs and ye swains, I've in view | What with rapture I pant to impart, | MARIA at last thinks I'm true, | Has own'd I've a place in her heart."

Headnote: "Sir, As Shenstone is an author universally admired, particularly for pastoral poetry, in which he is indeed unrivalled, should you think the inclosed imitation of his manner possesses sufficient merit to be presented to the public eye, by inserting it in your entertaining paper will much oblige Your's, &c. Philo Brune, Aldgate."



How well the soft passion's express'd
In Shenstone's agreeable lays:
What raptures arise in the breast,
When Damon sings Phillis's praise.

O had I his art I would try
My love for Maria to tell;
Whence shou'd I be fearful? Ah! why?
My THEME does all others excel.

Then haste, my good Shepherds, prepare,
Your flocks leave, be joyous and gay;
Let melody sound thro' the air,
For this is Maria's birth-day.

She promis'd to join in the dance
On the plain with the innocent throng;
She smil'd — but I see her advance!
'Tis time to begin then my song.

She comes, hence away all my fears;
Maria — propitious the DAY
With smiles to salute thee appears!
Aware — thou wert QUEEN of the May.

The lambkins all gambol around,
Sweet emblems of innocence see!
Fresh verdure bedecks all the ground,
These, these are just emblems of thee.

The swains with their pipes too attend,
Each one leads a nymph in his hand,
Each shepherd to love is a friend,
With transport they own his command.

What pleasure I felt t' other day!
(Soft Pity had moist'ned your cheek)
You found a poor lambkin astray,
And you hasted its dam for to seek.

May Peace, dove-ey'd Peace, in thy breast,
For ever — sweet tenant — reside;
May Virtue be always a guest,
Fair Prudence be ever your guide.

May Health, rosy blessing attend,
And gild ev'ry hour of life;
Many seasons roll on e'er it end,
May you ever be stranger to strife.

But the shepherds, impatient I see,
Wish to join in a dance on the plain;
Will Maria prove kind, and shall WE
Again lead the mirth-loving train?

Yet ye nymphs and ye swains, I've in view
What with rapture I pant to impart,
MARIA at last thinks I'm true,
Has own'd I've a place in her heart.

Then since she no longer proves coy,
I'll urge her to fix on a day,
When we'll meet here again with fresh joy,
And my BLISS has no longer delay.

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