1787
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral.

Berwick Museum 3 (January, February, March, June 1787) 44-45, 90, 141, 219-20.

P.


Twenty-two double-quatrain stanzas, after William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad, signed "P., Beaumont Banks." The poem was published serially in the Berwick Museum in four parts from January to June 1787. The publication in parts contributes to the narrative illusion of an ongoing anonymous relationship taking place among the readers of the magazine, conceived as a pastoral community: "Ye breezes! which glide o'er my bow'r | Cease to ruffle the reeds on the lake, | Pass peaceably over each flow'r, | And inform her I die for her sake." The four-part division was traditional, though here the last installment, crowning the happy garland, is of double length. Each poem has a separate inscription, to "Miss Harabuski, a Polish Lady, and an intimate of Jena," to "Miss Patricia L—ne," to "Miss Mary C—mp—n," and to "the ladies on the Banks of Beaumont."

Shenstone's poems seem to have been particularly admired by provincial writers, both because of their rural setting and because the poet's estate at the Leasowes became a model for an ideal, pastoralized literary life. As the tide of poems praising Shenstone developed a life of its own, periodical publication became the locus of virtual communities of writers such as that in Berwick implied here.

The Berwick Museum was edited by a bookseller named William Phorson, who is possibly the author of these poems.



How often I've made the lone grove,
With my pipe's rural music resound,
And how oft have I sung of my love,
To the vallies and woodlands around.
I cannot suppress her dear name,
(Since perhaps she may see these fond lays)
O ye gods! 'tis fair Jena I claim,
And 'tis Jena alone whom I praise.

Not all the gay pride of the Spring,
Nor the Summer's more gaudy attire,
Not all the rich Autumn can bring,
Can e'er paint the dear girl I admire.
The blossoms of Spring soon decay,
And the Summer's fine robes disappear,
Proud Autumn's rich gifts pass away,
But my Jena's the same round the year.

How light would be Winter's bleak train,
Should my Jena prove faithful and true,
I'd laugh at the snow, hail, and rain,
And all changes of season subdue,
Her form of the three Graces might wear!
She eclips'd each one you'd have swore;
Had you seen the nice shape and fine air,
Of the beautiful maid I adore.

Nor meadows nor musical grove,
Nor can daizies, nor violets gay,
Nor myrtles divert my fond love,
Or induce me from Jena to stray.
For sure she ne'er cruel can prove;
She'll at least lend an ear to my tale;
Say heavens! how pure is my love,
And her pity at least will prevail.

PART II.
Her pity, ye pow'rs! cannot prove
A relief to my sighs, from the fair;
Ah! — nothing but Jena's fond love
Can allay half the pangs of despair.
Love only for love can suffice:
And her heart ev'ry blessing insure;
O Venus! obtain me the prize,
And my transports for ever endure.

Quite pensive I roam o'er each field,
Nor attend to the notes on the spray;
No pleasure the thickets can yield,
And the streamlets remurmur my lay:
Without Jena I languish — I die;
Nor delight in my flocks in the dale;
No shepherd so wretched as I,
While my lambkins rejoice in the vale.

Hope hastens my steps to the bow'r
Which with woodbine and ivy I've made;
New lustre hope gives to each flow'r,
And enlivens the green in the glade;
Hope whispers — "Be never dismay'd,
She'll at last blush consent to thy vow;
No virgin before her e'er said
To a lover so constant — Adieu!"

PART III.
Accept the Muse's early lay,
And hear for once what lovers endure,
Deign then to smile my pain away,
And believe that love admits no cure.
Ye Muses! come forth from the grove,
For 'tis Jena, — young Jena's my theme,
(Your meanest of sons sings of love,)
And the woods echo back the dear name.

Anxiety damps ev'ry joy,
And exterminates Hope's cheerful ray,
Anxiety's sure to annoy,
And to frighten Love's pleasures away.
Suspended betwixt Hope and Fear,
And alternately rais'd or alarm'd;
This moment my joys disappear,
And the next with my Jena I'm charm'd.

Her charms are the cause of my pain,
And her eyes have depriv'd me of ease,
No nymph half so fair treads the plain,
And no beauty like Jena's can please.
Other shepherds may boast of their loves,
And engrave out their names on each tree,
But Jena the pride of the groves,
Alone appears most charming to me.

What care I for Grace on the Tweed,
Or for Kate who enamours each swain;
The beauties of Jena exceed,
All the beauties which ever gave pain.
Her features and figure excel
Far the figure and features of these;
Their lovers may look and they'll tell,
That my Jena alone merits praise.—

Ye breezes! which glide o'er my bow'r
Cease to ruffle the reeds on the lake,
Pass peaceably over each flow'r,
And inform her I die for her sake.—
You'll find her beneath the cool shade,
Where the warblers innumer'd do sing,
Perhaps she may stray in the glade
Where the daisies and primroses spring.

Haste, bear my impatience along
To the hills and the dales waft my pray'r,
Each linnet will lisp o'er my song,
And pronounce her "The first of the Fair."
The blackbird and thrush will combine,
For to rend with her praises the sky,
To convince HER no love equals mine,
And the WORLD, that with her none can vie.

PART IV.
Ye shepherds! whose lambkins do play
Where sweet Beaumont glides smoothly along,
O leave them a while for to stray,
And attentive give ear to my song!
My Jena's no longer unkind,—
(For she listens at length to my pray'r)
All sorrows I'll give to the wind,
And no longer complain of despair.

I told ye that Jena was fair,
That her beauties enslav'd all the plain,
Her lovers in haste left their care,
Of her pow'r and her charms to complain.
"Beware of the nymph, oft they said,
Nor permit her to enter your bow'r!"
I sigh'd out — I die for the maid,
And I feel all the force of her pow'r.

I left them and threw by my crook,
And forsook all the flocks on the hill;
I tuned my lyre by each brook,
And to name her instructed each rill.
To wildest of woods I withdrew,
To impart what I felt to each dove;
Impatient to Jena I flew,
And I swore I would live but to love.

My passion, she said, she approv'd,
And with pleasure accepted my heart;
Ye swains! could I hear her unmov'd
When she vow'd ne'er again to depart!
My garden, I said, it was gay,
And my daffodils in fullest bloom;
I begg'd of my Jena to stray,
Where the roses diffus'd their perfume.

Ye shepherds still lend me your ear!
Go survey all the flow'rs in the grove,
O gather the first of the year,
A fair garland to form for my love!
The primrose inhabits the shade,
And the lily blooms clear in the vale;
The eglantines shine in the glade,
Where the viol'ts perfume the soft gale.

As the Crocus to every weed,
That neglected lies hid in the shade,
So Jena — the queen of the mead
Does appear when compar'd to each maid!
Ye gods! what can equal my joy!
'Tis young Jena now blesses her swain!
Her praises my labours employ
And I boast of my love through the plain.

O Beaumont! thy banks, and thy fair,
Have awakened my numbers and lyre!
Each shepherd I beg to beware
How he looks — for he must them admire.
Tho' Jena in charms doth excel,
Ev'ry nymph — as fresh waters the waves,—
Yet on Beaumont's Banks many dwell,
Who have beauty enough to make slaves.

Ye swains! who delight in the grove,
Leave off ev'ry inferior theme,
Set forth the bright charms of my love,
All nature invites me to sing,
How befitting the subject my lays!
The beauties attending the Spring,
—But I only can sing in her praise.

[pp. 44-45, 90, 141, 219-20]