1777
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Flora.

Public Advertiser (5 February 1777).

A Sylvan


Five double-quatrain stanzas, signed "a Sylvan." In this variation on the popular pastoral mode, the ballad characteristics are dropped and the lyic develops as an allegorical ode to Flora consisting of a catalogue of trees and flowers: "Bid the Clover in Fragrancy yield, | Bid the Mower refurbish his Scythe; | Bid the Pea-blossoms garnish the Field, | That my Phoebe may gather a Tythe." This poem was reprinted with changes titled "The Invocation: a Pastoral" over the signature "T. N." in the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (20 February 1783). T. N. was a frequent contributor to that London newspaper.

Headnote: "Sir, If you will spare me a small Plot of your Literary Garden to graft (now and then) a Slip from the Heights of Parnassus, you will much oblige Yours, &c. A Sylvan."



Sweet Flora, revisit our Isle,
Come quickly, and lead up the May;
For, ah! how I suffer the while
Soft Zeph'rus and thou art away.
Now howls the North Wind round my Cot,
My Cot by the Stream's frozen Side;
Ah! lest I grow sick of my Lot,
Bid the rigorous Season subside.

From th' Elder-tree melt the pale Snow,
'Tis Time she had put forth her Green;
Again bid the Rivulet flow,
And with Primroses brighten the Scene.
New robe the tall King of the Grove,
Bid the Birch and the Poplar look gay;
Bid the Eglantine form an Alcove,
And Dog-roses blush on the Spray.

Again bid the Hawthorn-tree charm,
That the Bee may replenish her Hive;
That the Finch may be shelter'd from Harm,
And her Nestlings in Safety survive.
Bid the Horn-beam its Foliage untwine,
To harbour the innocent Dove;
Where (safe from the Rustick's Design)
She may rear her calm Offspring of Love.

Bid Zephyr diffuse his soft Gale,
That my Sheep on the Hare-bells may feed;
Wake the Vi'let that sleeps in the Vale,
With the Cowslips which droop on the Mead.
Let the Furze yield its Blossoms of Gold,
Bid the Tansy perfume the still Glade;
Let the wild Thyme its Flow'rets unfold,
And Sweet-briar spring in the Shade.

Bid the Clover in Fragrancy yield,
Bid the Mower refurbish his Scythe;
Bid the Pea-blossoms garnish the Field,
That my Phoebe may gather a Tythe.
Of the fairest that blow on the Plain,
Of the sweetest that spring in the Grove,
To wreath (gentle Goddess) thy Fane,
For thou art the Mother of Love.

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