1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

January. A Pastoral Poem.

Sentimental Magazine 2 (January 1774) 33.

Dr. William Perfect


Ten, later fourteen, double-quatrain stanzas, signed "Mallingiensis, Jan. 7, 1774." The summer landscape has assumed an aspect of distress: "Those scenes to dejection a prey, | To winter's wide ruin consign'd, | No longer sensations convey, | Improving and pleasing the mind." In the second half of the poem the poet hopes join his Delia in mourning fair Emmeline "who fell in the pride of her bloom," a prospect in which he hopes that "We'll meet the new year with a smile." Very little of this version survives in the 1786 redaction.



Tho' Janus has widen'd the day,
And December that nurtur'd the storm,
Each terror suspends to convey
In sadden'd variety's form;
Thy hand, Devastation, is spread
O'er Nature's disconsolate face;
The path-way dejected I tread,
As the havock of winter I trace.

How pointed with ice is the air,
The woodlands besplendent with frost,
A landskip of crystal prepare,
Whose beauties in rigours are lost.
Imprison'd behold the clear rill,
Irriguous that stole thro' the mead;
No more in soft murmurs distil
Its waters to cherish'd the reed.

Those scenes where the songsters of love
Pour'd carols which nature excites,
Resounding in bliss thro' the grove,
Resounding with purest delights;
Those scenes to dejection a prey,
To winter's wide ruin consign'd,
No longer sensations convey,
Improving and pleasing the mind.

For mute are the notes of the thrush,
The lark has his matins forgot,
The red-breast explores the bare bush,
Or for nurture intrudes on the cot.
No song the fresh milk-maid bestows,
No longer she visits the vale,
Where erst at the side of her cows
Each eve she replenish'd the pail.

The morning distressful of mien,
From slumbers of sluggish delay,
Now opens a wide-wasting scene,
At once both terrific and gay;
Aerial treasures of snow
The mountains and valleys invest,
With what a bright burden below
Is the bosom of nature oppress'd!

Go, shepherds, attend the thick field,
To your ewes in the valley repair,
O save the young lambs from the cold,
They bleat for protection and care.
Ye neat herds go look to the kine,
The crib with sweet fodder supply,
The task of compassion is thine,
For herbage the meadows deny.

Whilst the voice of the north is severe,
And heard thro' the trees with dismay,
What sorrow is that which I hear,
More sad than the sighs of the day!
'Tis Delia. — Why weeps my soft fair,
What opens the spring of her grief,
Or loosens her soft-flowing hair,
Can Corydon tender relief?

She weeps o'er poor Emmeline's tomb,
Who fell as a wreath of the snow;
She fell in the pride of her bloom,
As bright as the heavenly bow.
Her voice was the music of spring,
Her heart was ineffable love,
Her face all that beauty could bring,
In mildness she rival'd the dove.

Thou bright as the moon on the main,
My Delia no longer deplore,
Nor harrow thy bosom with pain,
For Emmeline must be no more.
Permit I partake of thy woe,
The privilege can you refuse?
Together, my fair one, we'll go,
And death of his triumph accuse.

To her manes rever'd let us raise
Of flowers an elegant mound,
The spring shall supply us with bays,
And Flora shall purple the ground.
In vain are you delug'd in tears,
O grant me your grief to beguile,
Exempt from despondency's fears,
We'll meet the new year with a smile.

[p. 33]