1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

February. A Pastoral Poem.

Sentimental Magazine 2 (February 1774) 77.

Dr. William Perfect


Eight, later thirteen double-quatrain stanzas, signed "Mallingiensis, Feb. 5, 1774." February is a month of seasonal change; the first half of the poem considers the rigors of the year, though the season for hunting is passing: "No dangers the covey annoy; | Securely the partridge shall pair, | And taste of each warm sunny joy, | As Phoebus impregnates the air." The second half of the poem modulates out of georgic and into pastoral description, concluding with a Valentine's Day salute to Delia.



To a shepherd unpractis'd in art,
Ye maids of Parnassus incline;
To him your assistance impart,
Whose tribute is laid at your shrine.
Tho' dull and ungenial the day,
Bright Pity appears in the vale,
The sportsmen her mandates obey,
No longer the coppice assail.

Nor longer with spaniel and gun,
In dress which the bramble defies,
Accusing the slow-rising sun,
To cover young Doriland hies.
The pheasants beneath the rude thorn
In safety their plumage may spread,
Or venture to pilfer the corn
The hand of Rusticity shed.

No dangers the covey annoy;
Securely the partridge shall pair,
And taste of each warm sunny joy,
As Phoebus impregnates the air.
But Mercy is partial; for lo!
Black perils await on the fen,
The snipe feels the death-levell'd blow,
Which the woodcock destroys in the glen.

To scenes of more softness I speed,
The muse in her pastoral flight,
Come, Flora, enamel the mead,
Replenish the earth with delight:
Conceal not your mantle of green,
For nature's cold bosom is bare,
You purpose to clothe the dark scene,
The snow-drop alone can declare.

The snow-drop, young blossom, how chill'd,
Cold herald, with winter in rear,
Thy veins seem with isicles fill'd,
Pale gift of the unripen'd year.
If other weak flow'rets are found,
They scent not the spiritless day,
They breathe not an odour around,
Are neither inviting or gay.

Should clouds in succession descend,
The landskips to deluge in show'rs,
Or mists o'er the cottages bend,
Consigning to dulness the hours:
Yet sorrow disturbs not the soul,
Content for her residence forms,
Altho' in the far distant pole
Extends the rough blast of the storms.

Content come with visage serene,
Thy blessings unfold to my view,
Attendant be innocence seen,
I want not the wealth of Peru.
The bosom of calmness is thine;
The Virtues in modest array,
Thy presents are ever benign,
Thy song is the music of May.

Pastora inspire my reed,
Can sounds more harmonious flow,
From encomiums more justly proceed,
Than those which to Delia I owe.
For now the fair morning appears,
My muse with inchantment to wing,
Another we add to her years,
'Tis the birth-day of Delia I sing.

Tho' naked and brown are the lawns,
And winter still harrows the day,
Aurora transcendently dawns,
For Delia has heighten'd her ray.
For her, with each grace in her train,
Shall spring in fresh beauty appear,
The summer's varieties reign,
And winter no longer appear.

Prophetic, methinks, that my song
Has called up the earth-chearing breeze,
The birds am'rous ditties prolong,
The turtles soft coo in the trees.
Each warbler the symphony hails,
And harmony gentle creates,
'Tis Cupid my fair one prevails,
On their musical nuptials awaits.

A chaplet I'll weave for the morn,
The myrtle soft verdure bespreads,
Flora wakens the wreath to adorn,
And rises wherever she treads.
Let Delia approve my fond lays,
Accept of the garland I twine,
My brow shall be cover'd with bays,
In honour of her Valentine.

[p. 77]