1803
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Dying Myrtle.

Lady's Monthly Museum 10 (April 1803) 280-81.

Dr. William Perfect


Nine double-quartrain stanzas, signed "Dr. Perfect." This pastoral lyric consists largely of a catalogue of flowers, of which Delia prefers the myrtle (figure of love). Her myrtle, however, fails to reciprocate her affection: "She saw it recline its gay head, | In verdure all wither'd and pale; | Its odours, all recently fled, | No longer impregnate the gale." The poet offers his song in empathy with her sorrow. This poem may have appeared previously in another periodical, since the proflic Dr. Perfect scattered his blossoms widely, and the Lady's Monthly Museum reprinted a number of his earlier poems. But since it does not appear in his latest collection, Perfect quite likely composed this love lyric when he was in his sixties.



This emblem of love the most true,
Sweet type of unvarying truth,
Enchantingly fair to the view,
Was the gift of her favourite youth;
Was the myrtle array'd in soft bloom,
Sensations of bliss to excite;
Round Delia it breath'd its perfume,
Was approv'd and preferr'd in her sight.

Did Damon awaken the lyre;
Apollo, attach'd to his side,
Enliven'd its tremulous wire,
Resounding his boast and his pride;
For Delia his lays were prolong'd;
The myrtle of love was his strain;
And much she his suit would have wrong'd,
Had she slighted the lays of her swain.

'Mid the warmth of Aurora's first ray
The myrtle was seen to expand;
Adding sweets to the sweetness of May,
Its blossoms invited the hand;
And gladly her bard shall repeat,
That Delia, due honour to show,
Permitted those odours a seat
In her bosom, that rivall'd the snow.

Of the vi'let, blue-coated, she sung,
As a maiden of diffident mien,
The offspring of Flora among,
Enriching the Zephyr unseen:
Of the rose, so commanding of praise,
As the garden's profess'd Columbine,
That in blushes too often betrays
The shame of her being too fine:

Of the jess'mine, in modest array,
For innocent visage admir'd,
As chaste and as soft as the day,
In stole of Autumnus attir'd;
That the suckle, for sympathy fam'd,
Her tears would in fragrance distill;
That the hyacinth elegance claim'd,
As well as the splendid jonquil:

That the cowslip, in gold-colour'd crest,
Her breath of ambrosia exhales;
With the primrose, less brilliantly drest,
And the lily, fair queen of the vales:
That geranium, of odours refin'd,
And the tulip, variety's friend,
Had either its province assign'd,
The treasures of Flora to blend:

That the amarinth, deathless of name,
In the garden elysian that blew;
And the anana, sweetest in fame
Of all that e'er blossom'd or grew;
That these in successive delight,
Alternate their beauties impart;
But the myrtle was first in her sight,
The object most dear to her heart;

To Venus herself not more dear:
—"Then come, honour'd plant, to my breast,"
She said — but was pallid with fear,
When its foliage she hastily press'd.
She saw it recline its gay head,
In verdure all wither'd and pale;
Its odours, all recently fled,
No longer impregnate the gale.

Infelicity, Delia, was thine:
Dear mourner, thy sorrows, and grief,
Let thy bard with his own intertwine,
Administer tender relief.
Remember in solace thy swain,
To soothe and diminish thy smart,
In affection will ever maintain
The myrtle of love in thy heart.

[pp. 280-81]