1786
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

November. A Pastoral.

Gentleman's Magazine 56 (October 1786) 888-89.

Dr. William Perfect


Fifteen double-quatrain stanzas, dated "Malling May 10." In contrast to the other poems in this cycle of the seasons, an elegiac tone appears in the installment for November: "Does the woodcock itinerant come, | For nurture solicit these plains? | Ah, why thus abandon his home, | To bleed in rude sport for our swains." In the concluding stanzas the poet complains of neglect by his friend and his lover.

In 1786 William Perfect also published in the Gentleman's Magazine several "sonnets" in the pastoral ballad measure: three quatrains with an appended couplet. These were also anonymous, and also collected in Perfect's Poetic Effusions (1796).



Ah, whither, bright God of the Spring,
Are thy rays, nature-chearing withdrawn!
The warblers that stretch the gay wing,
No longer enliven the lawn.
Ye breezes of softness, ah where
Are your zephyrs so fragrant exil'd!
No longer you sport thro' the air,
Invitingly pleasing and mild.

Of verdure the loss do we moan,
Lament that the sun's soothing rays
To climates more southern are gone,
And shorten our desolate days.
Such feelings are common to all,
Does Nature not sympathise too?
Yet tho' she descends to her fall,
At intervals smiles to the view.

Does the woodcock itinerant come,
For nurture solicit these plains?
Ah, why thus abandon his home,
To bleed in rude sport for our swains,
Who rise the dawn for their game,
And bear thro' the spring and the copse,
In cruelty level their aim,
Till the emigrant flutters and drops.

Ye streams that run purling along,
From your banks your own Flora is fled,
And Philomel issue no song
Thro' the verdure that cover'd her head.
The bleating of lambs in the fold
From the valley no longer ascends;
No tale of soft passion is told
Where the beech its gay branches extends.

Ah where is the couch of green moss
Which erst with my Delia I found,
When with pleasure we wander'd across
The cowslip and daisy-dress'd ground!
No more to the close-twisted bower
With the charmer delighted I run,
In fondness to pass the cool hour,
Eluding the heat of the sun.

See Nature so pensive is grown,
Her tears steep in dew all the plain;
Congenial with hers is my own,
But my sorrows attend her in vain.
November, the tomb of the year,
Usurps his tyrannical stand;
His horrors successive appear,
Successive stalk over the land.

His glooms all around us arise:
Does Sol with less lustre appear,
Faint beam from his throe in the skies,
Or shine unempow'r'd to chear
Your funeral notes in the wild
I hear, ye disconsolate shades;
Your foliage so sickly resign'd,
Shrouds over the face of the glades.

To pine and weep over your bier
Melpomene shall not refuse:
The fall of the leaf and the year
Such heart-piercing sorrow renews.
Whilst tuneless and sad as the breeze
Are the notes that arise from the spray,
Of the naked, cold, quivering trees
Sad sepulchral marks of decay.

Might Fancy excursive of wing,
At a season so baleful and bleak,
In simile venture to sing,
The copse or the brow let her seek:
The yew in its centre compare
To a prelate whose reverend head
Bows down sympathetic in care,
To close the sad rites of the dead.

Who knows but this priest of the shade
By Nature herself is ordain'd,
In vesture too sacred to fade,
And thro' all the seasons sustain'd:
In Spring to invite the warm breeze,
That wakens the buds as it blows;
In Summer to guard the green trees,
And in Winter to hush all their woes!

Does aught soothe the blast of the heath,
The howlings we hear from the grove,
The rigours above and beneath,
'Tis the language of Friendship and Love.
Those Myrtles of Peace and Repose,
Their sister Content by their side,
They soften the season of woes,
And bid all its horrors subside.

Then where does my Celadon rove,
The friend of my undisguis'd breast?
And where is that Empress of Love,
My Delia, with innocence blest?
Can November to Celadon bring
The arrows which Friendship destroy?
Shall Oblivion e'er venture to spring
Where Friendship has treasur'd each joy?

Shall Delia, whose heart is the seat
Where love th most faithful is stor'd,
Unfeelingly fly my retreat,
By Winter's rude visit explor'd?
No, Celadon, no: to complain
Of the virtues attach'd to your heart,
Would give to our friendship a pain
'Twere ungrateful in me to impart.

Integrity, artless of form,
In vest of Sincerity, 's thine,
Unruffled and safe from the storm,
Tho' the tempests of life shall combine.
Let Winter approach to destroy
The comforts thy presence can bring;
Come, Celadon, come: we'll enjoy,
And soften his gloom into Spring.

Nor let me of Delia complain,
Tho' the trees all their verdure resign,
And Phoebus for clouds cannot shine.
She comes! in her presence is love,
Her eyes are the heralds of joy;
November no longer shall prove
The season of grief and annoy.

[pp. 888-89]