1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Song.

St. James's Chronicle or British Evening Post (25 January 1774).

Iota


Five double quatrains by an anonymous laboring poet, written in the manner of William Shenstone. The Song is a love-complaint: "Ah! why did I gazing admire! | For I'm certain she cannot be mine; | Since Beauty and Wealth all conspire | To frustrate my hopeless Design." The poem is an example of how newspapers published as well as educated literary autodidacts.

Headnote: "The inclosed Lines are the Productions of a Stone-Cutter in the Town I live in, and the Man is very modest, and pretends to no uncommon Erudition, and yet discovers some Share of Merit in the Pastoral Way. I dare say you will contribute your Endeavours to give him some Assurance, which he really wants, and which the Publication of his Lines cannot fail to produce. I am the Writer's Friend, and Your occasional Correspondent, Iota."

On 12 March 1774 the St. James's Chronicle would publish "Midnight Thoughts" by the Devonshire weaver Christopher Jones, one of the better-known laboring poets of the period.



When my Eyes first with Phillis's met,
How each tender Passion arose!
How my Heart more than usually beat!
Neglecting its wonted Repose.
In my Breast heav'd impatient the Sigh,
And then vented itself with a Tear;
And when Phillis no longer was nigh,
I was tortur'd with Grief and Despair.

Ah! why did I gazing admire!
For I'm certain she cannot be mine;
Since Beauty and Wealth all conspire
To frustrate my hopeless Design.
The Flocks of her Sheep and her Kine
In a large fertile Meadow may roam,
Whilst the few Fate alloted as mine,
I'm forc'd to tend close by my Home.

Ere I chanc'd the dear Charmer to see,
Well pleas'd my Flock I could tend;
Their Frolics gave Pleasure to me,
But that Pleasure is now at an End!
By my Side lies neglected my Lute!
No more the soft Notes can I trace!
I've no Thoughts of my Pipe or my Flute,
Or of ought but my Phillis's Face!

No more in the Dance on the Plains
Do I strive to divert the gay Fair;
No more in the Sports on the Plains
Can I take any Pleasure to share.
The Reason they often implore,
And beg to partake of my Woe;
But I sigh, and I answer no more,
Than "Time will the Cause of it show."

Oh, ye Groves, once my Scenes of Delight,
The Pleasures you gave me are o'er!
Your Prospects, that once pleas'd my Sight,
Will not Please me again any more!
'Tis the Love of bright Phillis the Fair
That could e'er make me happy again;
Since I'm certain her Love not to share,
I must ever unhappy remain.

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