1800
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Phillis. A Pastoral.

Lady's Monthly Museum 5 (July 1800) 74-75.

T. P.


A pastoral ballad in five double-quatrain stanzas signed "T. P.," a regular contributor to the early numbers of the Lady's Monthly Museum. The opening stanza quotes from Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad, or rather from the popular song taken from it, in order to distinguish this impoverished poet from the country gentry who were the frequent subjects of this genre. The poor, our shepherd is happy with his Phillis: "Ye shepherds, whom merit can move, | Let songs from the valley arise, | In praise of the charmer I love, | Till Echo reply from the skies."

The periodicals of this time, including the Monthly Museum, were giving much attention to Robert Bloomfield, whose descriptions of country life as seen from below may have had something to do with the rapid decline of the pastoral ballad in the early nineteenth century.



No "banks have I furnish'd with bees,
Whose murmur invites one to sleep,
No grottoes well shaded by trees,
Or hills all white over with sheep:"
The youth who these treasures possest,
These treasures would gladly resign—
Would hail himself happy, and blest,
To possess such a treasure as mine!

Yet Nature to none is unkind:
The shade of the wild-spreading tree,
The fragrance that floats in the wind,
And the sunshine, are treasures to me:
Then, the nightingales' notes are as sweet,
As soft flows the murmuring stream,
And the flocks do as tenderly bleat,
To me (tho' so poor) as to him.

For flowers, I've travers'd each field,
To deck my sweet Phillis's hair;
Not one the whole country can yield,
For Winter has lorded it there:
Yet will I not sigh at its reign,
For Winter has yielded a rose,
Whose beauty still charms the bleak plains,
And blossoms surrounded with snows.

—'Twas Phillis! — and this was the Morn
When first she inspir'd the air
Of the hills she was meant to adorn
With virtues so gentle and rare.
Ye shepherds, whom merit can move,
Let songs from the valley arise,
In praise of the charmer I love,
Till Echo reply from the skies.

For me, the dear charms of the maid
With rapture shall swell in my mirth,
Till the heart that shall dictate is laid,
Forgotten and silent, in dust!
She's fair, and I needs must admire,
Tho' I ever against it had strove;
She's true as my heart sould desire,
And my soul is devoted to love!

[pp. 74-75]