1766
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Pastoral Elegy.

Universal Magazine 39 (November 1766) 260-61.

Mr. Alley


A pastoral ballad in nineteen anapestic quatrains, signed "Mr. Alley," who contributed several poems to the Universal Magazine. On her deathbed, Phillida begs to be remembered and bequeaths her sheep crook, her ribbons, and her heart. The latter goes to Collin, whom she promises to visit in spirit after her decease. Collin then sings her praises and anticipates the wished-for event: "But — night has o'erta'en my complaint; | The shepherds retire to their rest,— | Attend! O attend, my dear saint! | In vision O let me be bless'd!" The Universal Magazine, a less literary journal than the Gentleman's Magazine, encouraged the pastoral ballad phenomenon in its early stages, publishing John Cunningham's pastorals and printing a number of others, both originals and from other periodicals.



This charge the fair Phillida gave,
"Ye virgins attend on my bier,
Let cowslips in spring deck my grave,
And wet them sometimes with a tear.

"This duty is due to my youth,
If nought to my friendship ye owe;
Were my days to be longer, my truth,
Perhaps, ye more fully would know.

"But — tokens of kindness receive:
My sheep crook O Daphne's for thee;
And to my lov'd Phoebe I give
Each ribbon belonging to me.

"O Collin! my lamb and my ewe
Unto thy fond care I resign;
Fond care still I'm sure thou wilt shew,
When remembrance says they were mine.

"But have I no better to give,
No better, before I depart!
Yes! yes, dearest shepherd! receive
Whatever was thine — my fond heart!

"And, if 'tis permitted the bless'd
To wander from regions above,
Each night will I guard thee in rest,
Each day will I visit my love!"

These were the last words which she said,
Ere her eyes their sweet lustre deny'd,
Ere the roses on her cheeks did fade,
Ere she fainted, and sighed, and — dy'd!

When she dy'd, then the flow'ret was lost,
Whose blooming inamour'd each eye!
Whose sweetness was Nature's fond boast,
And none ever dar'd to deny!

As the village attended her bier,
And saw the sod plac'd on her breast,
What eye then denied a tear?
What tongue but her praises express'd?

If truth is of worth to mankind,
If innocence still doth invite,
If happiness sweetness of mind,
And constancy, ever delight;

If wisdom still pleasing appears,
Or wit, when good natur'dly dress'd;
Well Phillida won all their tears,
She won all the praise they express'd!

If shepherds such sorrows did shew,
O Collin! what griefs should be thine?
Her friendship, 'tis true, they did know,
But — all her best wishes were mine!

Ye woodbines that run to decay,
In yonder imbowering grove!
O! witness this truth in my lay,
I bury'd all joy with my love.

Bear witness, thou once-charming bow'r,
On which I employ'd all my art,
In which I oft cheated an hour,
With Phillida, Queen of my heart.

Bear witness, my herds, as ye stray,
And pinching necessity prove,
I sigh and I weep the long day,
Since I was bereft of my love.

And witness, thou lamb and thou ewe,
That feed of the best from my hands,
To nothing attention I shew,
Save to my dear Phillida's commands.

Save to the gay myrtles I dress,
That grow in the sod o'er the fair,
Whose sweets shall her virtues express,
Whose verdure my truth shall declare.

But — night has o'erta'en my complaint;
The shepherds retire to their rest,—
Attend! O attend, my dear saint!
In vision O let me be bless'd!

Present thee in thy wonted charms!
Appear, as thou us'd to be — gay!
Then let me depart in thy arms,
And waft me! O waft me away!

[pp. 260-61]