1771
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Complaint. A Pastoral.

General Evening Post (16 March 1771).

W.


Eleven anapestic quatrains signed "W." In this pastoral ballad young Celadon mourns the absence of his love in what amounts to a fertility allegory: "Now the birds have forsook ev'ry grove, | The groves which all tarnish'd are seen; | And my Sylvia, a truant to love, | Has left the gay nymphs of the green!" Perhaps too the lyric trades on the association of Shenstone with gardening; it seems like a companion piece to "An Autumnal Ballad" which had appeared in the Weekly Magazine the previous October.



Whilst tempests deform the bleak year,
Whilst winter yet rages around,
When nor roses nor vi'lets appear,
Nor cowslips enamel the ground:

"What theme shall young Celadon chuse,
What strain shall enliven his song?
Alas! can the peace-loving muse
Her notes in this season prolong?

"Shall philosophy brighten the verse?
Shall I soar to the regions of day?
Or attend on the tear sprinkl'd hearse,
While funerals blacken the way?

"Must I leave off the pastoral strain,
Must I quit the delights of the field:
Or still sing on the desolate plain
The joys which contentment can yield.

"Now the birds have forsook ev'ry grove,
The groves which all tarnish'd are seen;
And my Sylvia, a truant to love,
Has left the gay nymphs of the green!

"The charms which each season can bring,
Her presence to me could supply;
But thy roses of fresh blooming spring,
Without her would wither and die.

"Then if Sylvia return to my arms,
Sweet music shall flow from my flute,
Then the groves shall resound with her charms
Tho' the thrush and the linnet are mute.

"I would stray where I saw her appear,
Tho' loud tempests around me should blow;
I would call it the prime of the year,
Tho' the hills were all cover'd with snow."

Thus Celadon, pride of the grove,
Rehears'd to the woodlands his grief,
And the queen of soft pity and love,
Propitious afforded relief.

For Sylvia the lovely, the fair,
Return'd to the nymphs of the plain,
To the winds fed young Celadon's care;
He resum'd his gay humour again.

Her presence new brighten'd the skies,
Caus'd the warblers of summer to sing;
And fresh flow'rets spontaneous arise
To salute the return of the SPRING.

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