The Park. A Pastoral Poem.

Sentimental Magazine 3 (July 1775) 324-25.

Dr. William Perfect

Twelve double-quatrains stanzas signed "Mallingiensis, July 7, 1775." This would become the concluding poem of Poetic Effusions (1796). The Park is a kind of house-poem without the house: the poet is led by Contemplation into the fields where he encounters the sylvan deities signifying the pleasures of country life. But he is soon suffused with melancholy as he thinks of his absent love: "But can I unfeeling survey | Those landscapes Arcadian in view? | Where bright as the dawn of the day | The voice of soft pleasure I knew." In the concluding lines of the poem, however, he recalls a meeting with Delia in a kind of epiphanic hour: "To meet with her swain did she haste, | Approach on the wings of the dove; | Can mem'ry by time be defac'd? | The Park was the compact of love." Perfect does not mention William Shenstone, though one may suppose that in some sense he figures of the genius of the place in The Park as elsewhere in this extensive oeuvre of pastoral ballads.

I'll climb up the steep of the hill,
Or traverse the path of the field,
Incline to the curve of the rill,
By verdure's thick mantle conceal'd;
Shall gales of ambrosia invite,
And nature unnotic'd remain?
O Solitude, maid of delight!
I follow thy steps to the plain.

From thence to the Park let me rove,
There Solitude commune with thee,
In silence thy beauties approve
'Neath the shade of yon towering tree:
There, free from all faction and strife,
Reposed by they peaceable pow'r,
Conceal'd from the tempest of life,
Lie hush'd in Ttanquility's bow'r.

But can I again resurvey
Those landscapes, Arcadian in view,
Where bright as the dawn of the day
The voice of soft pleasure I knew?
Where truth in the shape of my fair,
Enchanted my time with her smile:
Her absence my tears shall declare,
Express my sensations and toil.

The ravishing touch of her lute
Wak'd echo arise from her cell,
Sylvanus stood pensive and mute,
The satyrs danc'd over the dell;
Brown Ceres repair'd to the plain,
Her temples with wheat-ears bedeck'd,
And Venus, each grace in her train,
Came forward with conscious respect.

When Phebe, the pale lamp of night,
Purloin'd from Endymion's bed,
As oft with transporting delight
In passion to Delia I fled:
And when from her clover repose
The lark brav'd the orient skies,
As oft, thou dear cause of my woes,
I bask'd in the beams of thy eyes.

But now I no longer can mark
Of solitude all the still haunts,
Unnoted the deer in the park,
Unheard what the nightingale chaunts.
On pinions of plaint I reveal
To zephyrs that flutter along,
Or pour all the sorrows I feel
Unmeasur'd in pastoral song.

But pleasures more lasting I greet;
O find me some verdure-roof'd shade,
Some lonely sequester'd retreat
Thy hand, contemplation, has made.
Where glides without murmurs the stream,
Adown by an antiquate pile,
Where pines, thick resisting his beam,
Forbid the sun's splendours to smile.

Or where with loud cadence the wave,
Near columns disparted by time,
By sadness instructed to rave,
I'll pour lamentation in rhime.
Ah, no! may my flocks feed no more
While Medway, with serpentine sweep,
Festivity deals to the shore,
While Naiads their citadel keep.

My ewes their fresh pasture refuse,
In autumn forget for to breed,
Aurora refresh not with dews,
The rain ne'er replenish the mead;
My hops be all blacken'd with blast,
The dolphin cloud over my beans;
If all the sharp slights that are past
My heart from its tenderness weans.

Ah, no! can I ever forget
When Philomel burden'd each bough,
To spring as discharging her debt,
She measur'd my sighs by her woe.
I stood like the statue of grief,
The shade of the hawthorn within,
Could waterfalls bring me relief?
No, I bade them relinquish their din.

Ye warblers your madrigals cease,
Insipid's music of spring:
To me would you offer some peace,
Forbear any longer to sing.
When thus, as a retrospect thought,
Ideas had strove to impart,
Yet fancy's dear image had brought
In vision her charms to my heart;

Behold in the shade of the beech,
In all the sweet May of her prime,
As far as the eye's distant reach,
Walk'd Delia the queen of my rhime;
To meet with her swain did she haste,
Approach on the wings of the dove;
Can mem'ry by time be defac'd?
The Park was the compact of love.

[pp. 324-25]