1770
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Violet.

The Poetical Works of Mr. William Woty, in Two Volumes.

William Woty


Four double-quatrain stanzas moralize the flowers observed in a morning walk — an original twist given to the familiar pastoral ballad (in which catalogues of flowers would sometimes appear). The poet invites his companion to emulate the humble violet: "So Beauty, my fair-one, is doubly refin'd, | When Modesty heightens her charms; | When Meekness, like thine, adds a gem to her mind, | We long to be lock'd in her arms." William Woty's verse had taken an unexpected turn towards the devotional in the 1760s, and though he remained a popular poet, he published less as time went by and eventually slipped into retirement and obscurity.

It is odd that both the Monthly and Critical Reviews passed over this collected volume of poetry by one of the most familiar poets of the day. Perhaps they assumed that it consisted only of reprints, while in fact it contains a substantial amount of new material.



Serene is the morning, the lark leaves his nest,
And sings a salute to the dawn.
The sun with his splendor embroiders the East,
And brightens the dew on the lawn,
While the sons of debauch to indulgence give way,
And slumber the prime of their hours,
Let us, my dear Stella! the garden survey,
And make our remarks on the flow'rs.

The gay gaudy tulip observe as you walk,
How flaunting the gloss of its vest!
How proud! and how stately it stands on its stalk,
In beauty's diversity drest!
From the rose, the carnation, the pink and the clove,
What odours incessantly spring!
The South wafts a richer perfume to the grove,
As he brushes the leaves with his wing.

Apart from the rest, in her purple array,
The violet humbly retreats;
In modest concealment she peeps on the day,
Yet none can excel her in sweets:
So humble, that (though with unparallel'd grace
She might e'en a palace adorn)
She oft in the hedge hides her innocent face,
And grows at the foot of the thorn.

So Beauty, my fair-one! is doubly refin'd,
When Modesty heightens her charms,
When Meekness, like thine, adds a gem to her mind,
We long to be lock'd in her arms.
Tho' Venus herself from her throne should descend,
And the Graces await at her call;
To thee the gay world would with preference bend,
And hail thee the Vi'let of all.

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