1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

March. A Pastoral Poem.

Sentimental Magazine 2 (March 1774) 124.

Dr. William Perfect


Eleven, later sixteen, double-quatrain stanzas signed "Mallingiensis, March 9, 1774." At the center of this descriptive pastoral ballad the poet's Delia appears leading a lamb: "It was the first born of the fold; | Which but for her care had been lost, | Her tenderness sav'd from the cold | The dreadful effects of the frost." The poem for March concludes with the celebration of the marriage of Selander and Melicent. Perfect afterwards added several stanzas of description and made numerous verbal changes.



In the habit of Proteus clad,
With aspect ferocious and wild,
Now pleasing, now sullen and sad,
Now froward, now placid and mild,
In his hand, from the Zodiac fled,
The Aries progressive is seen,
The bloom of the almond is shed
Around his unciviliz'd mien.

'Tis March — how tremendous they blow,
Unprison'd what tempests arise
From the caverns of Boreas below,
The hills feel the blasts of the skies.
The hills echo loud, and the deep
Ascends in big surges of foam;
The ships o'er the precipice sweep,
Thro' perils implacable roam.

Ye winds, your rude tumults assuage;
O cease your resentment to pour,
Forbear your despotical rage;
O hear the young season deplore.
Let morning your friendship resume,
Revive nature's low-bending head,
Send Zephyr, with soft silken plume,
The breath of Favonious to spread.

'Tis done: on the bank of the rill
Peeps the primrose in innocence dress'd,
Serene as its waters distil,
Blooms the gem of the season confess'd.
The sky-tinctur'd violet is seen
Her blossoms of odour to shed,
She looks as the purple-rob'd queen
Of the treasure young verdure has spread.

These are gifts for my fair, let me bring,
The primrose and violet gay;
Such innocent poesies of spring,
My purest affection convey.
She comes, as the moon from the cloud,
My snow-bosom'd Delia appears,
With a soul of a mild virtue endow'd,
And her cheek unpolluted with tears.

She smiles, and the buds of the grove
Methinks into foliage expand,
Rob'd in all the soft lustre of love,
A lambkin she leads in her hand.
It was the first born of the fold;
Which but for her care had been lost,
Her tenderness sav'd from the cold
The dreadful effects of the frost.

She smiles — and elate with the sound
Of bells from the hamlet below,
Festivity bids to abound,
The cause ev'ry shepherd must know;
Must know what Selander the gay,
To Melicent, beautiful maid,
By Hymen on this jocund day,
The bridegroom of transport was made.

Did Hymen e'er look with more grace?
—The muse is invited a guest—
Was ever more chearful his face,
Than on this pleasing union express'd?
Ye shepherds, convene on the lea,
Let mirth the most sprightly be ours,
Go, Delia, announce the decree,
And call up the musical pow'rs.

The crocus of gold-colour'd hue,
The hyacinth, gaudy in vest,
The sweet polyanthuses too,
And anemone wantonly dress'd.
The Mezerion worthy of praise,
Tho' fraught with no lavish perfume,
And willow, whose silver-like rays,
Are shed from its white-velvet bloom.

These let us collect, and we'll weave
A garland for Melicent's brow,
I'm certain the fair will receive
The gift which her shepherd's bestow.
The pair will the present approve,
And gratefully honour my lay;
'Tis nature, the union of love,
Be ever recorded the day.

Selander, O long be thou blest,
Long cherish the maid of thy heart,
Thou choice of his unreserv'd breast,
A passion that's mutual impart.
So your loves shall no trouble annoy,
But Hymen incessantly sing,
That March was the parent of joy,
As well as the father of spring.

[p. 124]