Evening. The Third Pastoral: or Colin and Lycon.

Universal Magazine 60 (June 1777) 319-20.

J. Riddell

J. Riddell's third eclogue is a pastoral singing contest in which Colin and Lycon compete for a pair of Ewes. The two swains sing of their loves, Sylvia and Myra respectively, modulating their song through the usual places of invention. Mopus, judge in this contest, awards Lycon some compensation, "But Colin's glee, and love experienc'd skill, | What time to sink a note, and when blow shrill, | Must be allow'd, to these stak'd ewes lay claim, | And 'mong the shepherds merit deathless fame; | By artful cunning in the rural strain, | He'll pipe full long unequall'd on the plain." Here, as is not always the case, one is inclined to agree with the judge.

At close of day, the while I homeward led
My fleecy care, o'er Glotta's blissful mead;
Sweet rural music floating in the air,
Of oaten pipes, assail'd my listening ear;
When lo! I found, beneath a beechen shade,
Two lovesick Shepherds 'mong the violets laid,
In keen dispute, who best could tune the reed.
From either flock they stak'd two fav'rite ewes,
And me as umpire on my arrival chose;
Our younglings fed Clyde's flowery banks along,
While I attentive heard their rural song.

The setting sun now gilds the western sky,
And whistling homeward, happy ploughmen hye;
And see, in view, o'er all th' empurpled mead,
Our sev'ral flocks promiscuously feed:
Come, then, my Lycon, in this shady grove
Let's sing the beauties of the nymphs we love;
Whose are the ewes, young Mopsus shall decide,
In Mopsus' judgment we may safe confide.

Believe me, lad, the longest summer's day
Would not suffice, her merits to display;
Fair Delia's bloom, and graceful mien we prize,
And most admire Melinda's sparkling eyes,
But all perfections in my Myra join,
Her temper's affable, her form divine.

My lovely Sylvia! sweet as genial May,
Mild as Aurora ushering in the day;
When deffly sporting in the shady grove,
With beauteous nymphs, faint emblems of my love;
Like yonder rose the meaner flowers among,
My fair appears amid the virgin throng.

My Myra's cheeks a ruddy blush disclose,
More warm and blooming than the vermil rose;
Adown her neck her waving ringlets flow,
Her honey lips with crimson redness glow;
Her virgin breasts, just rising to the view,
Are whiter than lilies wet with dew.

Blest Sylvia's fairer than the Cyprian queen,
In talking free, angelic in her mein;
Her lively eyes shine than the stars more bright,
Her glowing lips seem kisses to invite;
Her ebon tresses gaudy ribbons tye,
Her dimpled cheeks with new blown roses vie;
With tuneful voice, than nightingale's more sweet,
She charms mine ear when in the shade we meet.

When on my Myra's snowy breast reclin'd,
How blythe am I! how chearful she, and kind!
From falt'ring tongue mine honest passion flows,
Her rosy cheeks a modest blush disclose;
Ye Gods! what words can our delight express,
When lip to lip, with mutual love, we press!

When in the shade, at Sylvia's side, I lie,
How joyous she! and O how happy I!
By simple wiles each other's love we win,
She strokes my cheek, a smile she will return;
Our wounded hearts with equal passions burn,
If from my sight, no more the fields can please,
On flowery banks in vain I seek for ease;
On verdant plains in vain the daisies spring;
The birds in vain with wild caroling sing;
In vain the sun beams forth refulgent rays;
In Sylvia's absence naught, alas! can please.

When peerless Myra's absent from my sight,
The sweets of spring no more afford delight;
My sheep, unheeded, wander to and fro,
While hills and dales around repeat my woe.

The wounded trees bleed with my Sylvia's name;
M' engraven crook in verse declares my flame;
Angelic Sylvia, blithesome, free, and kind,
All night I dream of, fills all day my mind;
Her winning charms for ever I could sing,
And make the echoes with her beauties ring.

My comely Myra grants me love for love;
Her praise I sing in every vale and grove;
So mild her temper, and her face so fair,
My lovely Myra is beyond compare!

Goats may forsake the craggy mountain's brow;
Rivers may backward to their fountains flow;
Gay spring may cease to clothe the mead with green;
And vales of snow in sulty June be seen:
But thee, O Sylvia! all my heart holds dear,
No power on earth shall from my bosom tear;
There thou, blest nymph, in spite of all controul,
Unrival'd reign'st — the mistress of my soul!

O'er eastern hills the sun shall cease to rise,
Shall cease at even to gild the western skies;
No more the warblers on the leafy spray,
Shall chant in spring their sweet melodious lay;
The zephyrs cease the aspen leaf to move,
When I my Myra shall forget to love.

My blithesome Lycon, thine harmonious lays,
So deffly sung, are worthy of our praise;
And for your strains, (you merit well the meed)
Accept, fond youth, this crook and brass-bound reed.
But Colin's glee, and love experienc'd skill,
What time to sink a note, and when blow shrill,
Must be allow'd, to these stak'd ewes lay claim,
And 'mong the shepherds merit deathless fame;
By artful cunning in the rural strain,
He'll pipe full long unequall'd on the plain.

But lo! the sun immerges in the sea,
And birds no longer sing upon the spray;
Let us retire, and fold our fleecy sheep,
And give the rest of this calm night to sleep.

[pp. 319-20]