1770
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Autumnal Ballad.

Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 10 (24 October 1770) 117.

J. T.


A pastoral ballad on georgic themes in five double-quatrain stanzas, signed "J. T., Edinburgh, October 1770." The poet, noting the passing of the seasons, proposes to Phillis that it is time to pursue more serious pleasures: "Ere Winter deforms every scene, | To her swain if my Phillis will yield, | Content in his cottage shall reign, | Tho' tempests may rage in the field." The pleasures proposed include reading Thomson and Shenstone: "What more can a shepherd desire!" While it was Tait's custom to sign his poems, they were appearing with such regularity in the Weekly Magazine that it seems very likely that this is his production as well.



We've seen the soft season of Spring,
When verdure bedeck'd every grove,
When harmony touch'd every string,
And nature was transport and love.
With roses and myrtles array'd,
The graces and loves in his train,
Hot summer his visit has paid,
Maturing the fruits of the plain.

And now yellow Autumn appears,
Fair waving on Britain's rich shore;
With prospects of plenty he chears,
And Ceres displays all her store.
But soon horrid WINTER will come;
Inclement his breezes will blow;
No more shall we carelessly roam
Where the sweet-fabl'd rivulets flow.

No more shall we hear the gay note
Of choristers hailing the morn;
No rapturous accents shall float,
From the woodland, the brake, or the thorn:
No more shall be heard in the dale
To pass the sad moments away,
But tempest descend in the gale,
And Nature's whole beauties decay.

Then hasten, ye virgins, be kind,
While the swains their fond wishes declare,
O! throw not their vows to the wind,
Nor give them to doubt and despair.
'Ere Winter deforms every scene,
To her swain if my Phillis will yield,
Content in his cottage shall reign,
Tho' tempests may rage in the field.

How sweetly the moments will roll,
When Phillis her strains shall rehearse!
While THOMSON shall ravish the soul,
Or SHENSTONE dissolve with his verse.
What more can a shepherd desire!
Ye gods! let this fortune be mine;
And let love still with bountiful fire,
Each pleasure improve and refine.

[p. 117]