1771
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Shepherd and the Vision: a Fable.

Town and Country Magazine 3 (October 1771) 549-50.

Mr. Alley


Twelve unsigned anapestic quatrains. In this poem that pastoral ballad mode is applied, rather uncharacteristically, to devotional verse. Colin wonders why the woodlark sings its song, and the Vision replies, "Deem not that the notes from the spray | E'er prove as a waste of sweet sound, | For heard and approv'd is each lay,— | Each lay the God's praise doth resound." The poem was doubtless written to encourage more devotional verse, which on the whole seems to have been more common in the 1760s than the 1770s, when politics was becoming once again a chief preoccupation of the periodical versifiers.



As Collin one morn went a-maying,
Thro' bow'ry retreats of the grove,
The wood-lark such fancies was playing
As Philomel could not improve.

While he to the Syren's sweet lays
His eager attention devotes,
Through music's meander she strays,
Now sinking, now swelling the notes.

At length, he in extacy cry'd,
"Ah! where could this science be found!
For whom is this minstrelsy ply'd!
For whom is this banquet of sound!"

Said a vision, "'tis meet that you know,
The minstrel addresses each note
To Him, from whom bounty but flows,
Who taught ev'ry grace to her throat;

"Who now in beneficence gives
Parental delight to her breast,
From whose open hand she receives
Support for the young in her nest.

"Deem not that the notes from the spray
E'er prove as a waste of sweet sound,
For heard and approv'd is each lay—
Each lay the God's praise doth resound.

"Deem not that the flow'rets that blow,
And breathe in the lonely retreat,
Their sweets to the wilds but bestow,
As incense they offer each sweet.

"Ten thousand pure beings still rove
Unseen by corruption's gross eye,
To join in each song of the grove,
Each off'ring to waft in the sky.

"Though man never waken'd sweet praise,
Though thankless his bosom were found,
Chaste anthems the woodlands would raise,
Hallelujahs the vallies resound.

"Why were his vast faculties giv'n
To light him, why reason's blest beam,
If he leads not the chorus to heav'n,
If his gratitude proves not supreme?

"O youth! this thy duty observe,
So ne'er shall thy pleasures decay;
'Twill prove the best honour to serve,
The glory 'twill prove to obey.

"Each morning to songs of pure praise,
Lyre-like whilst thou tunest thy heart,
Immortals shall list to thy lays,
As thou to yon wood poet's art."

[pp. 549-50]