1773
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

December. A Pastoral Poem.

Sentimental Magazine 1 (December 1773) 469-70.

Dr. William Perfect


Eight (later thirteen) double-quatrain stanzas signed "Mallingiensis, Dec. 3, 1773." William Perfect discovers in December the season of Contemplation, a practice which supplies a kind of plenitude lacking in the landscape itself: "But winter, tho' wrapt in a cloud, | A gratitude warmer excites, | For virtue dares publish aloud, | That December is fraught with delights." In 1786 Perfect redacted this poem in the Gentleman's Magazine, adding to the natural description.



How swift the decline of the year!
December how chearless thy frown!
The knell of the fast-flowing year
Depresses both village and town.
O come Meditation, thou queen
Of pleasures, tho' pensive yet gay;
For thou can'st enliven the scene,
And lengthen the short-living day.

Emotions which flow from thy song,
Are smiles of content to the breast,
Are raptures that sweetly prolong
The whispers of peace and of rest:
What tho' the pale Season denies
The beauties which brighten the spring,
Contentment's the much-envied prize,
Meditation's the cherub to bring.

When odours replenish the gale,
The streamlets run purling along,
The zephyrs which softly prevail,
And Philomel issues her song:
The reed of sweet music display'd,
In notes unambitiously wild;
The pleasures alive in the shade,
When nature is placid and mild.

When Flora awakens the flow'rs,
Her children of purest perfume,
Descend in refreshment the show'rs,
To strengthen the innocent bloom:
When nature, with face of delight,
Diffuses her bounties around,
Creation that's new to the sight,
By the hand of young Extacy's crown'd.

When the landskip with transport descry'd
The summer holds forth to the view,
In robes too expressive of pride,
Tho' the mirror of nature is true;
When autumn rough labour repays,
And plenty wide-scatters her crops,
Diffuses her earth-gilding rays
Thro' gardens thick-cluster'd with hops.

When summer, or autumn, or spring,
Their treasures alternate dispense,
Their vicissitudes joyfully bring
The grateful remembrance of sense;
But winter, tho' wrapt in a cloud,
A gratitude warmer excites,
For virtue dares publish aloud,
That December is fraught with delights.

Devotion, elate at the sound,
Her incense prepares for the morn,
When tidings of gladness around
Proclaim that a Saviour was born;
Superlative news to the breast,
Replete with the faith most divine,
Where thy virtues, sweet innocence, rest,
And religion's best triumph is thine.

Let warm acclamations ascend,
Festivity, Temp'rance, be near,
And Charity, Virtue's fast friend,
The head of pale sorrow uprear.
Let Wealth all her scorn lay aside,
To Poverty's cottage repair,
Experience, the soul-lifting pride,
In robbing Distress of a care.

[pp. 469-70]