1783
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Health. A Pastoral. In imitation of Mr. Cunningham.

Edinburgh Weekly Magazine 57 (24 July 1783) 111.

K.


An imitation of John Cunningham's Content, a Pastoral (1763) in eight anapestic quatrains, signed "K." The distinctive element being imitated is the incipient allegory — though the allegory in this poem is less distinctive than in Cunningham's clever original: "At morn when I wake all my fears she dispels, | And makes my heart jocund and light; | She cheers me all day over forests and fells, | And rests in my bosom at night." While Shenstone was acknowledged as the founder of the modern pastoral ballad, Cunningham probably did more to exploit and popularize the form.



O'er Eska's blythe hills, as my lambkins I drove,
I spied a young virgin so gay;
In beauty she rivall'd the goddess of love,
And smil'd like the Queen of the May.

In rapture I ran, and the shepherdess kiss'd,
For who could her glances withstand?
So kindly I woo'd, and my love so confess'd,
That, blushing, she gave me her hand.

Now, blythsome together we tend our few sheep:
No mortals more chearful and bless'd;
Our moments away in soft transports do creep,
And ne'er are with sorrow oppress'd.

O'er mountains and muirlands we wander with joy,
Of heart-vexing cares we ne'er dream;
In singing a song our spare time we employ,
And sporting beside the lov'd stream.

When roaming along, we remark each sweet flow'r;
I ne'er from the virgin dissent:
When weary'd with wand'ring we hie to our bow'r,
And live still in peace and content.

More bliss we enjoy in our cottage alone
Than treasures of gold can devise;
My lot I'd not change for a sceptre or throne,
So much I the shepherdess prize.

At morn when I wake all my fears she dispels,
And makes my heart jocund and light;
She cheers me all day over forests and fells,
And rests in my bosom at night.

The lovely young shepherdess ne'er did aspire
To grandeur, to greatness, or wealth;
The villager, Temp'rance, is known for her sire,
And shepherds have called her HEALTH.

[p. 80]