1760
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Song. Inscribed to a Friend. In imitation of Shenstone.

A Collection of Original Poems. By the Rev. Mr. Blacklock, and other Scotch Gentlemen.

Rev. Thomas Blacklock


Six double quatrain stanzas, after Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. In this early example of what would shortly become a very busy sequence, Thomas Blacklock relates the love of Strephon, a bashful swain: "Ah! say, will she slightly forego | A conquest, though humble, yet sure? | Will she leave a poor shepherd to wo, | Who for her ev'ry bliss would procure?" p. 23. It is noteworthy that this miscellany of poems would be published with Blacklock's name: he was the one professed public poet among what was otherwise a group of gentlemen amateurs.

Monthly Review: "It is justly observed by the Editor of these Poems, 'that it cannot be expected, in a miscellaneous collection, to find every Poem of equal merit, and to please every reader, men's taste differing as much as their faces. However, he adds, that no piece has been inserted in this volume, without a critical examination by gentlemen of taste and character.' — It is certain, that no one performance can please every Reader, nor is every Reader a true judge of what he reads. Nevertheless, there is a kind of standard in the mind of every man of taste, by which all poetic merit may be weighed; and bad Poetry will never stand that test. We are therefore at a loss to account for the indifferent productions which have bee admitted into this Volume, notwithstanding they were previously examined by 'gentlemen of taste and character.' The peculiar Scotch phrases and idiom, indeed, may admit of some excuse, as the pieces are professedly Scotch. — There are, however, many good things in this Collection; and we hope the intended additional Volumes will have the advantage of a more select choice. But after all, it is to be feared, this undertaking will never equal the elegant Collection, in 6 Volumes, made by Dodsley" 25 (December 1761) 507-08.



Cease, cease, my dear friend, to explore
From whence, and how piercing my smart;
Let the charms of the nymph I adore,
Excuse, and interpret my heart:
Then how much I admire, you shall prove,
When like me you are taught to admire;
And imagine how boundless my love,
When you number the charms that inspire.

Than sunshine more dear to my sight,
To my life more essential than air,
To my soul she is perfect delight,
To my sense all that's pleasing and fair.
The swains who her beauty behold,
With transport applaud ev'ry charm,
And swear that the breast must be cold,
Which a beam so intense cannot warm.

Ah! say, will she slightly forego
A conquest, though humble, yet sure?
Will she leave a poor shepherd to wo,
Who for her ev'ry bliss would procure?
Alas! too presaging my fears,
Too jealous my soul of its bliss;
Methinks she already appears,
To foresee, and elude my address.

Does my boldness offend my dear maid?
Is my fondness loquacious and free?
Are my visits too frequently paid;
Or my converse unworthy of thee?
Yet when grief was too big for my breast,
And labour'd in sighs to complain,
Its struggles I oft have supprest,
And silence impos'd on my pain.

And oft, while, by tenderness caught,
To my charmer's retirement I flew,
I reproach'd the fond absence of thought,
And in blushing confusion withdrew.
My speech, though too little refin'd,
Though simple and aukward my mien;
Yet still, shouldst thou deign to be kind,
What a wonderful change might be seen!

Ah, Strephon! how vain thy desire,
Thy numbers and music how vain,
While merit and fortune conspire
The smiles of the nymph to obtain?
Yet cease to upbraid the soft choice,
Though it ne'er should determine for thee,
If thy heart in her joy may rejoice,
Unhappy thou never canst be.

[pp. 22-24]