1777
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Song.

Poems on Several Occasions. By Elizabeth Ryves.

Elizabeth Ryves


A lyric in six anapestic quatrains in the pastoral mode popuarlized by William Shenstone and John Cunningham. The poem, an early work by Elizabeth Ryves, is a simple lover's complaint: "Oblivion! sweet balm of our woes, | Where, where thy calm spring shall I find? | Its wave shall restore my repose, | And banish his form from my mind." It is no easy matter to make the second line scan. The pastoral ballad sequence was nearing the peak of its considerable popularity when this poem was published.

John Langhorne: "This Lady's poetry is easy and not inelegant; she seems to be fond too of an easy posture, if we may judge from the following lines: 'Where a cool spring, o'er-arch'd with trees, | Gives freshness to the languid breeze, | There (with robes unzon'd) supine, | I'll on the velvet moss recline!' We must do her the justice to say that her poetry is, in general, above the common run" Monthly Review 58 (March 1778) 237.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "Elizabeth Ryves, a native of Ireland, resident for several years in London, engaged in literary pursuits, and died in that city, 1797" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 2:1908.



Oh Corydon, where dost thou stray?
To what far distant clime art thou flown,
Where Fame ne'er extended her sway,
Where the Muse and her lute are unknown?

Are the nymphs of those vallies more fair?
Are the charms they possess more divine?
Ah! inconstant! how oft didst thou swear,
That no beauty cou'd please thee but mine!

Fond fool that I was, to believe
Such language cou'd never beguile!
That vows were not made to deceive,
Or falshood to lurk in a smile!

Oh Memory! why the soft scene
Of our loves dost thou ever renew?
Oh why still in vain o'er the green
Do my eyes a false rover pursue?

Oblivion! sweet balm of our woes,
Where, where thy calm spring shall I find?
Its wave shall restore my repose,
And banish his form from my mind.

Ah no! thus engrav'd on my heart,
What charm can his image remove?
That will ne'er be erased by art,
Which was drawn by the pencil of Love.

[pp. 89-90]