1782
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Banks of Annan. A Pastoral.

Edinburgh Magazine or Literary Amusement 55 (28 March 1782) 368-69.

Anonymous


Twelve anapestic quatrains, not signed. This pastoral lyric, while it borrows diction and themes from the Shenstone series of pastoral ballads, differs in adopting a true ballad measure and introducing some national and local details, like the plaid and "grey mists" that accompany Strephon's praises of Phillis: "The sweet singing birds with her voice cannot vie, | When the woo with their melody rings, | Nor the music of harps, when the fingers of bards | Stray over the sweet sounding strings." Scotland was beginning to assume a more prominent place in pastoral lyric even prior to Robert Burns.



When Phoebus with splendor had shone on the hills,
And bade the grey mists disappear,
Young Strephon, whose joy was to tend a few sheep,
Away from his cottage did steer.

While his flocks fed before him with pleasure and ease,
And his lambkins did frolic and play;
He leaned him down on the ANNAN'S green banks,
Whose streams glided gently away.

As he lay thus reclined, and thought no one near,
His crook by he carelessly flung,
And his plaid (for the shepherd, alas! was in love,)
And of Phillis thus sweetly he sung.

"Young Phillis is rosy and fresh as the morn,
When the beams of Aurora appear;
She is fair as the lily that grows in the vale,
When Flora has deck'd the gay year.

"As the snow on the mountains her neck it is white,
And her hand is as soft as the down;
Her red ruby lips like the honey are sweet,
And her eyes like a berry are brown.

"The sweet singing birds with her voice cannot vie,
When the woo with their melody rings,
Nor the music of harps, when the fingers of bards
Stray over the sweet sounding strings.

"In Phillis the graces and virtues all meet,
She is chearful, good natur'd, and free;
Among all the nymphs that on ANNAN are seen,
Sure none is so lovely to me.

"It was when in search of a lambkin I stray'd,
'O'er muirlands rude, barren and bare,'
That first I espied this matchless young maid,
So comely, so blooming, and fair.

"My heart I am sure was once lightsome and free,
But, alas! what a change do I find!
For now I'm held fast in the fetters of love,
O may the dear charmer be kind!

"Would Phillis agree in my cottage to dwell,
Where peace, love, and innocence reign,
The fells and the mountains would always be gay,
And the daisy still bloom on the plain.

"With Phillis what pleasure and joy would it yield,
My flocks in yon valley to feed!
So blithe and so happy no shepherd would be,
No shepherd on ANNAN or Tweed.

I ask not, kind Heav'n! to be wealthy or great,
Or titles vain mortals call high;
But on ANNAN'S sweet banks still a shepherd to be,
And with Phillis to live and to die.

[pp. 368-69]