1787
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

April. A Pastoral Poem.

Gentleman's Magazine 57 (April 1787) 349-50.

Dr. William Perfect


Seventeen double-quatrain stanzas, signed "Malling, April 8." Much of the April poem is given over to the birds, who not only sing (as was the convention in pastoral) but display their taste in the nests that they build, among them the Chaffinch: "Without how enamel'd it seems, | How elegant, artful, and round! | Bestudded with moss how it beams! | Within what invention is found!" The poem concludes with an account of trout-fishing, though in the end the poet and his friend Celadon "Surrender the rod and the line, | And spurn from amusement deceit."

1796 Editor: "The descriptive parts contained in these effusions are warmed by the animating glow of inherent sensibility, and will be found to be not wholly incompatible with the peculiar and appropriate beauties which occur to a constant resident of the country, according to the different changes of the year, when, like the writer of these pages, he shall 'copy Nature from her living book.' At the same time it is presumed that the moral, amatory, and sentimental parts will be found to convey chaste, tender, and social ideas" Poetic Effusions (1796) ii.



The blest revolution appears,
Descends on the wings of the breeze;
Yon cloud that dissolves into tears,
Expands the green robe of the trees:
What blossoms embellish the plain,
With the cowslip diffuse their perfume;
The Graces, a beautiful train,
Advance with the Season of Bloom.

The Spring, in her image complete,
In all her vicissitudes stands,
With gloom, or in showers, or heat,
Pervading all thorough the lands.
The song that's so rural and plain,
The odours that waken the dawn,
The roses that rise from the rain,
Bid the swallows glance over the lawn.

Thy harbinger, Summer, I see!
The stranger's return let me hail,
As for insects he sports o'er the lea,
Or hastily skims on the gale.
Ye breezes, be kind to the guest,
He fears the sharp tooth of the cold;
Blow genial and warm from the West,
And his pleasures in sunshine enfold.

The voices of Courtship and Love
In concert are heard o'er the plain,
Melodious they pour from the grove,
And Harmony opens her reign.
Enchanting by day and by night,
Fair chauntress, the first of the shade,
I listen to thee with delight,
Dear bird! to thy sweet serenade.

Thy song, when the evening obtains,
By the side of the streamlet I hear;
Shall Delia, the pride of our plains,
Attend to thy strains, and revere?
Her voice might improve thy soft lay,
But, pensively pleas'd to attend,
She lists to thy plaints from the spray,
Till her tears with thy sympathy blend.

And now, shall this Season of Flowers
The Cuckow, new visitant, hail,
Return to our green-twisted bowers,
And tell her monotonous tale;
The boys, who to pillage the nest
Burst into recesses remote,
Awhile in astonishment rest,
And mock her unmusical note.

From the fir in the midst of the grove,
The Stock-dove, in passionate lay,
Pours melting effusions of love,
As opens or closes the day,
The Blackbird is up with the morn,
To serenade pierces the bush;
Whilst music more shrill from the thorn,
Proclaims the delight of the Thrush.

Does the East brighten wide with the dawn,
The Lark from her pillow of green
Ascends from the clover or lawn,
Ambitiously lofty is seen.
In vain do we follow her flight,
She mocks the pursuit of our eyes,
And sings from so distant a height,
She seems but a speck in the skies.

How mutual's the toil of the day!
The Rook and his loud-cawing mate,
The architect's labours display,
In skill most amazingly great;
Infork'd in the elm's lofty spray,
The branches entwisting among,
In cradles compacted of clay,
Securely they pillow their young.

The Chaffinch mechanic, whose art
The Oxeye alone can excel,
Where the sprays in a thicket dispart,
Constructs her ingenious cell.
Without how enamel'd it seems,
How elegant, artful, and round!
Bestudded with moss how it beams!
Within what invention is found!

The Wren, of rotundity fond,
Her Ranelagh pins to the wall,
To the pollard reclin'd o'er the pond,
Or the thatch that projects from the stall.
Ye feather'd musicians of Spring,
Your nests may no danger annoy!
O may the fatigue of your wing
Your broodlings mature into joy!

What blessings the rustics await,
The season they hail with a smile!
How happy's the husbandman's fate,
Content is the offspring of toil.
At night, from the labour of day,
The faithful delight of his heart,
Meets her lord on his long-custom'd way,
Sensations most pure to impart.

Ye much-envied scenes of repose,
Dear sylvan, sequester'd retreats,
Where innocence shields from the woes
Attendant on Luxury's seats!
Here, Nature, 's thy throne! and behold,
In the cot by the verge of the dale,
Though the roof be not fretted with gold,
Thy virtues, Simplicity, dwell.

The morning's first visit attend!
Shall we watch for Aurora's first beam?
Then, Celadon, shall we, my friend,
Purloin from the stores of the stream?
Afar from the clack of the mill,
We'll stray to the head of the brook;
Or shall we curve round with the rill,
And practise the wiles of the hook?

The Trout in his moss-fashion'd bed,
Observe all his gay-speckled pride!
How bright are his patches of red,
Live rubies that bleed in the tide!
Shall he bask in his sun-courted ray,
Still tenant his oozy recess?
Clash the current disporting in play?
Or shall we his pleasures distress?

Ah, no! thy more delicate breast
Forbids an enjoyment to gain,
Forbids any pleasure to rest,
Which flows from inflicting a pain.
Let others illusion design,
We'll scorn the unwary to cheat,
Surrender the rod and the line,
And spurn from amusement deceit.

Your Muse shall the season declare,
Your Muse not the least of the Nine;
Excuse it should I for a share
Attempt your soft essays to join.
To Pan let us join in our song,
Perchance he may favour the lay,
Which too much we can never prolong,
For April's the mother of May.

[pp. 349-50]