1786
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Despair. An Imitation of Shenstone.

Daily Universal Register (15 September 1786).

Anonymous


Five double-quatrain stanzas, not signed. Corydon, a rejected lover, refuses to be comforted by either friendship or music, and resolves to await death in retirement: "Thus retir'd from the world and its cares, | May Eternity compass my thoughts, | Some comfort may bless my grey hairs, | While I smile at my juvenile faults." The pastoral ballad tracks closely with sentimentalism in poetry, which was at its absolute height at this era.



Tho' mute be thy Corydon's lyre,
Tho' the laurel may fade on his brow,
Tho' fancy has nought to inspire,
Yet Friendship can harmonize woe.
She may sweetly partake of our grief,
Ah! may sooth even beauty's alarm;
But for love she can find no relief,
Not the softness of friendship can charm.

Forgotten be Corydon's prize,
Which he bore from the swains of the grove;
Nay, forgotten be Phyllida's eyes,
Forgotten be all but my love.
My Pipe I have left on the plain,
My song is no longer my care;
But, alas! that increases my pain,
For music would sadden despair.

If a sigh should escape from my heart,
Or a blush should illumine my cheek,
Believe me, 'tis only that part
Which utt'rance refuses to speak.
Then seek not to stifle my woe,
Away your fond counsel remove;
You would cause, if a tear you bestow,
A tear both for friendship and love.

For ever must Corydon burn,
Let him fly to some far distant sphere,
Where his passion may never return,
To torture his Phyllida's ear.
Retirement must mark out the spot,
Contentment must smile thro' the wild,
Sweet peace must inhabit the cot,
And happiness health's rosy child.

Thus retir'd from the world and its cares,
May Eternity compass my thoughts,
Some comfort may bless my grey hairs,
While I smile at my juvenile faults.
May my soul when requir'd by my God,
In that state it first sunk from the sky,
As it bows to the Deity's nod,
Expand its bright plumage and fly.

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