1775
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Shepherd's Complaint.

Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (18 March 1775).

E. V.


Ten anapestic quatrains, signed "E. V." This poem varies the pastoral ballad sequence by introducing a seasonal theme and a new musical instrument: "Dull and desolate now is the scene | Where the nymphs and the villagers met, | To enliven the sports of the Green, | With the pipe and the sweet clarinet." Perhaps in this instance one may discern a distant echo of Spenser's December eclogue. This poet contributed several items to the Morning Chronicle about this time.



Alas! the dear minutes are gone,
And all that the heart can improve,
And winter, stern winter, comes on,
And past are the seasons of love.

No longer by fair Orwell's stream,
Shall I carelessly wander along,
To indulge a poetical dream,
Or to listen to Philomel's song.

Dull and desolate now is the scene
Where the nymphs and the villagers met,
To enliven the sports of the Green,
With the pipe and the sweet clarinet.

The streams, and the riv'lets and fountains,
Their musical murmurs have lost;
And the lawns, and the valleys, and mountains
Are cover'd all over with frost.

The rose, nor the lilly, shall bloom,
No flowers shall sweeten the vale;
Nor the vi'let her fragrant perfume
Shall lend to the soft-breathing gale.

The blackbird no more from the thorn
Shall warble his wind notes at even;
Nor the lark, at the twilight of morn,
Shall send up her matins to heaven.

Ah! why does my Phillis withold
The music that dwells on her tongue?
Though her shepherd neglects oft his fold
When he listens to Phillida's song.

When he thinks of his Phillida's form,
How her presence enliven'd the plain;
He sighs at the wintery storm,
And wishes for summer again.

Still memory haunts the dear grove,
Where in raptures we've wasted the day,
Or enjoy'd the sweet converse of love,
As we've wander'd at evening grey.

But if Phillis forsakes her fond swain,
Well may winter o'er-shadow the year;
And well may the grove and the plain
To him like a desart appear.

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