1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To the Lilies of the Valley.

Monthly Magazine 2 (September 1796) 648.

Rev. John Bidlake


Nine blank-verse quatrains, signed "Rev. J. Bidlake, of Plymouth." The ode begins with the conventional emblematic interpretation of the flower: "How bleeds to think that mortal excellence | Is doom'd to live forgot, unheeded die! | For in your short-liv'd charms | Are pictur'd well its fate." This very sentimental ode develops in a somewhat unexpected direction, however, leading one to think that Bidlake had been looking into Erasmus Darwin's Loves of the Plants.

Poetical Register and Repository of Fugitive Poetry for 1804: "In the higher rank of poets Mr. Bidlake cannot aspire to be placed; but he is an elegant and pleasing writer, and a man of a liberal and cultivated mind" Review of Bidlake, Poetical Works; (1806) 491-92.



Ye lowly children of the shelter'd vale,
Like modest worth by scornful pride disdain'd,
Your little, fleeting life,
Who waste unseen, unknown,

In verdant veil how bashfully enwrap'd,
Ye shun the officious hand, the searchful sight,
With down-cast, pensive eye,
And ever-musing heads!

Ah! when I view your meek, your humble mien,
And all your highly breathing fragrance taste,
How bleeds my sad'ning soul,
For unprotected worth!

How bleeds to think that mortal excellence
Is doom'd to live forgot, unheeded die!
For in your short-liv'd charms
Are pictur'd well its fate.

For ye, ere yet the morning's rising gale
Shall wing its early course, may cease to greet
With the sweet breath of love
The wakeful wanderer's way.

Nor longer, virtue's boast! a little day,
A little hour, she blooms! Nor can her pow'r
Us helpless victims shield
From the unpitying grave.

Then come, my Anna's faithful bosom deck:
For ever there true worth, true wisdom dwell,
Congenial to your state,
Soft in that heaven rest.

There shall no busy insect dare obtrude
Your sweets to rifle with perfidious kiss;
While ye more fragrance taste
Than in your native beds.

Your highest incense breathe, to emulate
Those more than op'ning morning's purest sweets,
That sit on rosy lips
Of smiling chastity.

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