1787
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

February. A Pastoral Poem.

Gentleman's Magazine 57 (February 1787) 171-72.

Dr. William Perfect


Thirteen double-quatrain stanzas, subscribed "Malling." The Malling poet, William Perfect, pursues a variety of georgic topics in his hymn to a changeable season, observing the early signs of Spring and, when the weather is foul, pursing content at home. February proves to be a very musical month: "Fair minstrel, as early as sweet, | Dear woodlark! how welcome thy note; | That Janus has made his retreat, | We learn from thy musical throat." The pastoral concludes with a salute to Delia, offered a Valentine chaplet of poetical myrtle.

In 1796 this poem was reprinted, dated "Feb. 14," in the New York Weekly Museum over the signature "Valentine."



Does frost still imprison the ground,
And Nature lie buried in snow?
From the Southward warm breezes are found
In muttering hoarse accents to blow.
Then torrents of water distill,
At once all the ice sweeps away,
To a river enlarges each rill,
And the vallies are fill'd with dismay.

Shall Nature in agony sigh,
And Pleasure, astound at the waste,
Dejected with fear turn her eye
From scenes so horiferous haste?
Yet hold, gentle Goddess, and turn;
The rooks are beginning to pair;
That Spring shall emerge from her urn,
The buds of the currant declare.

To prospects less chearless O speed
The Muse in her pastoral flight;
Come, Flora, enamel the mead,
Replenish the earth with delight.
Deny not your mantle of green,
The lanschape is naked and cold;
Your promise to paint o'er the scene
The elder's expansions unfold.

The snowdrop I see in the dell,
Bold herald, with Winter in rear;
Her looks her soft embassy tell,
She comes the sad season to chear.
The Daphne-mezereon I see,
The wood-laurel too is in bloom;
Protruding the vernal-sown pea,
Is ready to burst from its tomb.

Fair minstrel, as early as sweet,
Dear woodlark! how welcome thy note;
That Janus has made his retreat,
We learn from thy musical throat.
As herself now expanded the day,
Soft Pity appears in the vale;
The sportsmen her mandates obey,
No longer the woodlands assail.

Nor longer with spaniel and gun,
In vest which the bushes defies,
Accusing the slow-rising sun,
To cover young Doriland hies.
The pheasant beneath the rude thorn
Her plumage unfearful may spread,
Or venture to pilfer the corn
The husbandman carefully shed.

No perils the covey annoy;
Securely the partridge may pair,
And taste of connubial joy,
As Phoebus impregnates the air.
But mercy is partial, for lo,
In the moor, and the marsh, and the fen,
The snipe feels the death-level'd blow,
And the woodcock still bleeds in the glen.

Should clouds in succession distress,
The landschapes still deluge in showers,
The snow on the cottages press,
Consigning to dullness the hours,
Yet sorrow disturbs not the soul
Content for her residence forms,
Although to the farthermost pole
Extends the rude blast of the storms.

Content, O with visage serene
Thy image unfold to my view!
Attendant be Innocence seen!
How mean is the wealth of Peru!
The bosom of calmness is thine;
Emit but thy silver-soft ray,
We hear from thy whispers divine
More musick than issue from May.

Pastora, with mirth fill my reed—
Can sounds more harmonious flow?
Panegyrics more justly proceed,
Than those which to Delia I owe.
For now the bless'd morning appears,
My Muse with enchantment to wing,
Another we add to her years—
The birth-day of Delia I sing.

Though naked and brown are the lawns,
And Winter still harrows the day,
Aurora transcendently dawns,
'Tis Delia has heighten'd my lay.
For her, with each Grace in her train,
Shall Spring in gay beauty appear,
The Summer's varieties reign,
And Winter no longer appear.

Prophetic methinks that my song
Awakens the earth-chearing breeze,
The thrushes their sonnet prolong,
The turtles soft coo in the trees;
The chaffinch their symphony hails,
The hedge-sparrow musick creates—
'Tis Cupid, my fair-one, prevails—
Presides o'er the plume-painted states.

A chaplet I'll weave for the morn,
The myrtle shall fly from her beds,
Young Flora the offering adorn,
And flourish wherever she treads.
Let Delia approve of my lays,
Accept of the garland I twine;
The Muse into honour she'll raise,
Whose Bard is her own Valentine.

[pp. 171-72]