1773
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[The Praises of the Country.]

Town and Country Magazine 5 (August 1773) 437-38.

Ruris Amator


An untitled retirement ode signed "Ruris Amator" written in imitation of Milton's L'Allegro. The poet displays more enthusiasm for his subject than metrical skill: "Ye nymphs, and fawns, with chearful voice, | Sing health, the source of festive joys; | Raise the strain in numbers clear, | Let the sweet music strike her ear." Escaping from the city, the poet brings his favorite poets, which prove to be Virgil and Horace.

Headnote: "Sir, If you think the following lines worthy of your attention, by giving them a place in your instructive Magazine you will very much oblige Your humble servant, &c. Ruris Amator. Manchester, August 1773" p. 437.

In September 1804 this untitled poem was reprinted without acknowledgement in the Universal Magazine under the title "The Praises of the Country; in the Measure of Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso."



Hence ye unwholesome smells,
Ye noisome damps, that thro' the town exhale,
And taint the passing gale,
Where pale consuming sickness ever dwells!
Hence with this ranker air:
My fancy loaths these haunts of dire disease,
Such scenes no longer please:
Scenes of mix'd tumult and perpetual noise,
Ill fit for peaceful joys:
I'll leave them to the toiling sons of care.
Ye nymphs that tread the rural plain,
Come with the graces in your train!
Come, ye fawns, and sylvan throng,
Lead the dance with jocund song.
Come all, that stray thro' groves or mountains,
Ye that love the mossy fountains,
With nimble foot, in airy round,
Skim o'er the daisie-painted ground!
Come health too, blooming goddess come!
From whom the zephyrs steal perfume;
Leave the thick forests and the glades;
For oft with chaste Diana's maids,
O'er the hills, and thro' the dales,
Shaggy woods, and lowly vales,
When stag or boar they hold in view,
Thou fly'st the foremost of the crew:
Again this social choir rejoin,
In all thy radiant splendor shine—
Behold! she comes with graceful pride,
The sounding quiver by her side.
Oh! what matchless charms unite!
Her eyes beam fires divinely bright,
Fragrant odours round her blow,
In her cheeks the roses glow,
Rosy wreaths her temples bind,
Her tresses wanton in the wind,
A snow-white robe conceals the rest,
Save the fair, the swelling breast.
Ye nymphs, and fawns, with chearful voice,
Sing health, the source of festive joys;
Raise the strain in numbers clear,
Let the sweet music strike her ear;
Let the loud notes still louder rise,
Float on the air, and mount the skies.
'Till the talking hills rebound
The breathing pipes melodious sound.
Glad would I live, fair health! with thee,
And all this jolly company.
Oft from the smoke of busy town,
Where the long hour moves joyless on,
Soon as the east with day-light dawns,
I'll seek the woodlands and the lawns;
There to breathe a purer air,
There with transport I'll repair.
What fair op'ning scenes of joy
Sudden seize the raptur'd eye?
Neatly trimm'd in best array
Nature all around looks gay.
See yon mountain's shady brow,
See the smiling plains below,
Down the steep, with rapid force,
A brawling brook directs its course,
Through the vales then gently straying,
And in smooth meanders playing.
But hark! the songsters of the groves,
In melting strains, chaunt forth their loves:
The early lark now soars on high,
And sings his matins to the sky.
From the rough furze, in swelling notes,
The linnets strain their little throats;
While ev'ry bush, and ev'ry spray,
Resound the sweet responsive lay.
Oh! ye gods, how blest is he,
Who retir'd from tumults free,
Undisturb'd by care or strife,
Lives a pure unblemish'd life!
For him the plumy nations sing,
For him the woods with music ring,
The swain by nature's bounty fed,
Who dwells in yonder lowly shed,
Enjoys 'em all, the vocal woods,
The lowing vales, and murm'ring floods.
His harmless joys are all sincere,
He knows no guilt, nor guilty fear.
Rural plenty loads his board;
Content with what his fields afford:
He envies not the lordly great,
Their dazzling pomp, and pride of state.
When gladd'ning morn illumes the skies,
Chearful to his toil he hies:
Then to pass the sultry hours,
Cooling grots, and shady bow'rs,
Breathing round him pure delight,
To rest his wearied limbs invite.

Oh! what blissful pleasures here
Charm the eye, and charm the ear!
None more pleasing scenes than these
Form'd for peace, and virtuous ease.
From the noon-tide's scorching heat
Bear me to some deep retreat,
Or to springs and gelid streams,
Where the sun but faintly gleams.
Ye shades, and bow'ry thickets hail!
Welcome each refreshing gale!
Here some Doric lay I'll frame,
Rural joys shall be my theme;
Or in Maro's polish'd strains
Traverse o'er the Mantuan plains:
There beneath the wide-spread shade
Of branching beech supinely laid,
The swain his beauteous mistress sung
While list'ning groves and mountains rung;
Or if cares disturb me breast,
Let Horace sooth my soul to rest.
Hark! he strikes the jocund lyre;
Mirth and with his lays inspire!
In his verse dame Venus smiles,
"Bacchus eating Care beguiles."
When to his Sabine seat remov'd,
The bard a thousand pleasures prov'd.

If such joys abide with you,
Rural nymphs, I'll join your crew.

[pp. 437-38]