1766
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Grief: a Pastoral Elegy.

Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (19 August 1766).

J. H.


Ten anapestic quatrains in the manner of Nicholas Rowe's Collin's Complaint and William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. Corydon bemoans the death of his Laura, seeking compassion from an unusual group of companions: "Ye ghosts that at midnight are seen | To glide by the meteor's pale light; | Ye fairies and elves of the green, | Ye goblins and spectres of night!" In a gesture imitated from Gray's Elegy written in a Country Churchyard, the poet composes his own epitaph in the last stanzas. This poem was widely reprinted.

Headnote: "If you think the following ELEGY, attempted in the manner of that sweet, pastoral Bard, the late Mr. Shenstone, will be entertaining to your readers, your inserting it will oblige, Your humble servant, J— H—."



Ye lambkins that wantonly play,
Go, bleating, unfed to the fold;
You shall crop the sweet verdure of May,
When Corydon's bosom is cold.

Where yonder sad branches of Yew
Extend o'er the church-way their shade,
Yet weeping with fast-falling dew,
The ashes of Laura are laid.

Ye shepherds who hear me complain,
And blame me in grief that I pine;
Which of you can point out a swain,
Whose sorrows are equal to mine?

My Laura was blythe as the May,
She was gentle and soft as the dove;
She was innocent, tender, and gay,
And "fair as the Mother of Love."

On her cheek glow'd the roses of youth;
Yet they wither'd, alas! in their bloom;
Her breast was the Mansion of Truth;
Yet now she lies dead in the tomb.

Sweet myrtles with woodbines I twine,
An off'ring for Laura to bring;
The rose and the lilly I join,
The innocent child'ren of spring.

The garland I wove for her head,
Where ev'ry choice flow'ret appears,
Must now on her grave-stone be spread,
And water'd with Corydon's tears.

Ye ghosts that at midnight are seen
To glide by the meteor's pale light;
Ye fairies and elves of the green,
Ye goblins and spectres of night!

Despairing while thus I complain,
Be you my companions alone!
Ah! why am not I of your train,
Since my Joys are departed and gone?

Yes; — beneath the sad branches of Yew,
I soon with my Laura shall rest;
Then my grave shall be moisten'd with dew,
And the turf shall sit light on my breast.

Give Alexis my pipe and my crook;
For to him they alone should belong,
Who can sit all the day o'er the brook,
And rehearse his lov'd Corydon's song.

His care on the Yew-tree shall mark,
The ray which my fate shall rehearse,
And, in pity, the soft yielding bark
Shall weep as he 'graves the verse:—

Here Corydon, pride of the grove,
In one tomb with his Laura is laid:
In his death he was join'd to his love;
Oh! pay a sad tear to his shade!

His flocks from the pastures at night,
Alexis shall drive to the fold;
He shall tend them with care and delight,
Now Corydon's bosom is cold.

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