1777
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Night. The Fourth Pastoral: or Amandus.

Universal Magazine 60 (Supplement, 1777) 375-77.

J. Riddell


The fourth of J. Riddell's cycle of eclogues is, following Pope's model, a pastoral elegy. Amandus mourns his Stella, who has bequeathed to the swain her flock and her sorrows: "Ah peerless Stella! nature's pride, is dead, | Laid low in earth, and all her beauties fled! | No more her cheeks with blooming roses vie, | Her cold, pale lips have lost their crimson dye!" While the model is Pope, in this poem the imagery and diction shift notably towards the Spenser-Philips side of the pastoral spectrum ("woeful," "welladay"), not because the poet was striving for bumpkin rusticity but because he wishes to convey artless passion. The use of a refrain also gives the poem something of an Elizabethan flavor.



The dismal night had now assum'd her reign,
And wet with dew the silent, gloomy plain;
Departed Sol was set in western deep,
And wearied mortals sunk in balmy sleep;
When drown'd in tears, beneath a blasted oak,
(Where ominous ravens to the desert croak)
Amandus lay. — To give his sorrows vent
He thrice essay'd, and thrice did sighs prevent.
To listening groves, at length, in hollow tone,
And broken accents, thus he made his moan.

Why have I liv'd to see this woeful day,
Which has my Stella mingled with the clay?
Why liv'd, to see her yield her tuneful breath?
To see the hour she clos'd her eyes in death?—
"Love, wit, and beauty from the plains are fled,
And in the grave with comely Stella laid!"

Embower her tomb, ye gloomy cypress trees!
Come, sigh with me, ye lambs and bleating sheep!
With me, ye hills, ye vales with me deplore!
My young, my beauteous Stella's now no more!
Behold (O baleful sight!) that rising mound,
Which sable yews, and willows pale surround;
Ah! there interr'd, regardless of my sighs,
My love, my all, the pride of nature lies!
"Love, wit, and beauty from the plains are fled,
And in the grave with comely Stella laid!"

With her no more the flowery field I'll tread!
No more recline beneath the beechen shade;
Where oft I want on oaten pipe to play,
While lovely Stella join'd the simple lay!—
No more shall shepherds round the virgin throng,
Doat on her charms, and praise her pleasing song;
But on the branches hang the silent reed,
While with despair their heaving bosoms bleed;
And o'er her grave sad rosemary bestrew,
And bid her, drown'd in love, a long adieu!
"Love, wit, and beauty from the plains are fled,
And in the grave with comely Stella laid!"

Ah peerless Stella! nature's pride, is dead,
Laid low in earth, and all her beauties fled!
No more her cheeks with blooming roses vie,
Her cold, pale lips have lost their crimson dye!
Her sparkling eyes, which every bosom warm'd,
Now languid lie, of all their fire disarm'd!
Hush'd is her voice, which erst so sweetly sung!
And wit no more flows from her silent tongue!
In bloom of youth Death maim'd her virgin charms,
And, merciless, tore her from a lover's arms!
Ah, yonder she! whilom more blithe and gay
Than joyous Spring, lies mingling with the clay!
"Love, wit, and beauty from the plains are fled,
And in the grave with comely Stella laid!"

Ah me! what tears? what sighs my grief express,
When I revolve my Stella's last address!—
As o'er her couch that woeful day I stood,
She pale and weak — and I with tears bedew'd!
While yet cold Death upheld the impending stroke,
In feeble accents thus she expiring spoke.
"My taper crook do thou Amandus take,
Use't as thine own for dying Stella's sake:
If e'er thou lov'd me, let my fleecy care,
Along with thine, thy kind attention share:
For now, Amandus, I must bid adieu!
Must bid farewel to all the world — and you!
To you, my love! — to you! ah welladay!
Death calls, alas! and all must Death obey!
Farewel! — adieu!" — Here was her voice suppress'd,
Her pains remov'd, and all her struggles ceas'd!
Her pains, her struggles ceas'd, and mine begun;
She's now entomb'd, I left behind to moan.
"Love, wit, and beauty from the plains are fled,
And in the grave with comely Stella laid!"

Ah! what avails it she was passing fair?
That godlike virtue ever was her care?
That rural ditties she so sweetly sung?
And poignant wit flow'd ever from her tongue?
Ah! what avails it she my crook adorn'd
With fragrant flowers, and love for love return'd?
Not all her beauty, all my tears, could save
My hapless Stella from an early grave;
Nor voice enchanting as the Sirens song,
Nor charms of peerless meed could life prolong.
The old, the young, the homely, and the fair,
Must yield to death, and for the grave prepare!

Here sighs again his struggling speech suppress'd;
And tears again bedew'd his heaving breast;
Absorb'd in grief beneath the wither'd shade,
All on a mossy turf he lean'd his head,
Till winding rills, which thro' the valley creep,
With soothing murmurs lull'd the swain asleep.—

[p. 375-77]