1777
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To the Memory of Mr. —.

Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 35 (20 March 1777) 401.

D. C.


Eight double-quatrain stanzas signed "D— C—, Edin. March 20." The poet exhorts her friends to mourn for Thyrsis: "Come, virgins! we'll join in the lay, | And sing to his mem'ry soft strains, | We will mourn at each parting day, | For Virtue deserted the plains." The comparison of publishing verses in the Weekly Magazine to carving the dead shepherd's name on the "rind of yon poplar" alludes to the circumstances surrounding the publication of poems like this, the humble pastoral ballad being a frail memorial intended chiefly for a local community of informed readers. Like the fairies and nymphs alluded to in the poem, these communities had a shadowy existence.



What quick-heaving sighs do I hear,
Do they come from yon widowed grove,
Where flourish'd the sweets of the year,
Where bloom'd ev'ry fragrance of love?
Yes, — these are the sighs of the bow'rs,
Who mourn for Thyrsis the gay,
Who lament, thro' the slow-pacing hours,
The shepherd whom Fate snatch'd away.

Long labour'd the swain 'neath disease,
Nor ever gave one plaintive sigh,
Till the pitying pow'rs brought him ease,
And wafted him on to the sky:
'Tis mine to the dear charmer to mourn,
'Tis his to rejoice at the change,
In grief I'll oft visit his urn,
And among the damp groves will I range.

At even' how oft have we stray'd,
How oft have I fed on his smile?
'Twas his my ideas to aid,
And moments of sorrow beguile.
These shady recesses of yew,
The worth of the shepherd can tell,
His merit was equall'd by few,
On his tongue elocution did dwell.

Forgot hangs his pipe in the shade,
Ne'er tun'd since the dear Thyrsis died,
And Music's deserted the glade,
Where once ev'ry chorister vied:
No more on the flow'r-cover'd green,
Do the bare-footed beauties advance,
No more are the villagers seen
To wind thro' the maze of the dance.

Sweet ravishing pastime and glee
Are chang'd into scenes of despair,
Wild wander his flocks o'er the lea,
Of no kind protector the care;
What an aspect of gloom wear the vales,
Where dwelt ev'ry rapture before!
All Nature in silence bewails,
Since Thyrsis the gay is no more.

Come, virgins! we'll join in the lay,
And sing to his mem'ry soft strains,
We will mourn at each parting day,
For Virtue deserted the plains:
Nor shall his dear name be forgot;
To Thyrsis a garland we'll wear,
And strew with fresh flow'rs the spot
Where sleep his lov'd relics, each year.

With the fairies and sylphs in a ring,
We'll meet in the moon-lighted grove,
There scatter the odours of Spring,
—There join in a concert of love.
We'll yearly commem'rate the day,
Dread day! when our Thyrsis expir'd,
When fled the fair soul from the clay,
And Gaiety, weeping, retir'd.

On the rind of yon poplar, in verse,
I'll record to late ages his fame;
The virgins the tale will rehearse,
And admire my so gen'rous flame:
And should they commend with applause,
And repeat thro' the vallies the song,
The Muses shall honour the cause,
With notes that to sorrow belong.

[p. 401]