1762
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Corydon's Farewell, on sailing in the late Expedition Fleet.

Gentleman's Magazine 32 (April 1762) 185.

Anonymous


An emigration eclogue of sorts, not signed. Corydon takes leave of all he holds dear: "Farewell each thing, each place I fondly know, | To distant climes poor Corydon must go, | The home-felt joys, beyond expression dear, | Deserve an elegy, a parting tear." Corydon's Farewell is not structured like a conventional eclogue, being a catalogue-poem modelled on the design of Milton's L'Allegro with alternating sight and sound descriptions. It is remarkable for a specificity of detail not generally seen before Cowper and Burns. The "woodman's stroke," for example, finds an echo nearby: "The sawyers working in the inmost wood, | Attentive hear the tune, and think it good. | They make their motions with the measure chime, | All arms now rise and fall in perfect time."

In 1777 this striking poem was reprinted without signature in the Town and Country Magazine under the title "Corydon's Farewell on his Embarkation for America."



Farewell the bell, upon a ram's neck hung,
Farewell the rustic song by shepherd sung;
Farewell the hungry falcon's cat-like note,
As down the glade he stoops for mouse or float;
Farewell the fearful lapwing's chiding quest,
When rover ranges near, too near her nest;
Farewell the jetty raven's scornful scoff,
Who proud, to prouder man, cries out "off, off."
So fancy forms his ill-betiding croak,
And thou, farewell, that from the hollow oak,
The bird of wisdom 'clep'd does send around,
Thy manlike halloes hunters to confound.
Inbower'd in birchen groves thou wooing dove,
Emblem of spotless innocence and love:
Farewell, O say! with thy companion fate,
How oft thou'st seen me with as fair a mate.
Farewell, the busy hum of bees that bring,
Extracted honey from the pride of spring;
No more your toil shall Corydon molest,
When buzzing near my Cloe's tender breast,
Whether to sting her was your sad intent,
Or, whether sweets to steal, was all ye meant.
Farewell each hill, each dale, each conscious grove.
Adieu each witness of my constant love.
Farewell of distant bells the liquid sound,
That while I lay stretch'd careless on the ground,
Would softly undulate along the glade,
And bring such news as pleasing fancy made.
Happly a wedding, or, an heir may be,
Or glorious vic'try gain'd by land and sea;
For joy, the very fairies dance and sing,
And leave their footsteps in a verdant ring.
The bells in triple cadence other times
At matins please the ear in softer chimes:
When good old dowager oppress'd with cares,
Or maiden aunt with Jocky steals to pray'rs.
The evening knell reminds us of our folly,
And substitutes a pleasing melancholy.
Farewell the lonely cot in neatness drest,
Which neighb'ring 'squire does annually invest,
With decent liv'ry of purest white,
A pleasing object to the sight;
Fix'd near a spacious wood of aged oak,
Which shows the chimney's noon-day azure smoke,
Near it a limpid stream for ever flows,
Where linnen-suited Sal for water goes,
To boil her cates, or wash her cotton hose.
A neat cut hedge that can with tulips vie,
Where Sally hangs her favours out to dry.
Farewell the woodman's hem at ev'ry stroke,
Who hems and inter-whistles (hearts of oak.)
The sawyers working in the inmost wood,
Attentive hear the tune, and think it good.
They make their motions with the measure chime,
All arms now rise and fall in perfect time;
Their boys around, blest pledges! play their pranks,
Some houses build with chips, some swing on planks.
The tender watchful mother sits hard by,
Knitting, awhile the girls raise up dirt pye.
O happy presage of their future lives,
Useful in arts the boys, the girls domestic wives.
Farewell each thing, each place I fondly know,
To distant climes poor Corydon must go,
The home-felt joys, beyond expression dear,
Deserve an elegy, a parting tear.

[p. 185]