1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

April. A Pastoral Poem.

Sentimental Magazine 2 (May 1774) 221-22.

Dr. William Perfect


Thirteen, later seventeen, double-quatrain stanzas signed "Mallingiensis, April 5, 1774." As befits the vernal season, the pastoral for May is given over largely to songbirds: "The blackbird is up with the morn, | To serenade enters the bush; | Whilst music more shrill, from the thorn, | Proclaims the delight of the thrush." In the later stanza the poet proposes to his friend Celadon that they go angling, but then thinks better of participating in such a cruel sport.



Stern winter no longer prevails,
His brow of severity bends,
The snow is dissolv'd in the vales,
The north all his fury suspends:
The stream, late so turbid and full,
Innundation pour'd over its mound;
Now limpid and slow to the pool,
Its waters glide peaceably down.

The blest revolution appears,
It comes on the wings of the breeze;
Yon cloud that dissolves into tears,
Expands the green robe of the trees.
The daisy bestuds the fresh plain,
The cowslip diffuses perfume,
The Graces, a beautiful train,
Revive in the season of bloom.

From the fir, in the midst of the grove,
The stock-dove, in passionate lay,
Pours melting effusions of love,
As opens or closes the day.
The blackbird is up with the morn,
To serenade enters the bush;
Whilst music more shrill, from the thorn,
Proclaims the delight of the thrush.

Does the east brighten wide with the dawn?
The lark from her pillow of green
Ascends from dew-spangled lawn,
Ambitiously rising is seen.
In vain do we follow her flight,
She mocks the pursuit of our eyes,
And sings from so distant a height,
She seems invelop'd in the skies.

How mutual's the toil of the day,
The rook and his loud-cawing mate,
The architect's labour display,
In skill most amazingly great;
Enfork'd in the elms lofty spray,
The branches intwisting among,
In cradle compacted of clay,
Securely they pillow their young.

The chaffinch, mechanic, whose art,
Ye warblers, you can excel,
Where the sprays in a thicket dispart,
Has finished her gray-mossy cell.
Without how enamell'd it seems,
How elegant, artful, and round,
Instudded as brilliant it beams,
A brilliant where sparkles abound.

The wren, of rotundity fond,
Her Ranelagh pins to the wall,
To the pollard that bends on the pond,
Or the thatch that projects from the stall.
Ye feather'd musicians of spring,
Your nests may no danger annoy;
O may the fatigue of your wing,
Your broodlings mature into joy.

What blessings the rustics await,
The season they hail with a smile!
How happy's the husbandman's fate!
Content is the offspring of toil.
At night, from the labour of day,
The faithful delight of his heart,
Meets her lord on his long-custom'd way,
The raptures of truth to impart.

Ye much-envied scenes of repose,
Dear sylvan-sequester'd retreats,
Where innocence shields from the woes
Attendant on luxury's seats.
Here Nature's thy throne, and behold,
In the cot, on the verge of the dell,
Tho' the roof is not fretted with gold,
Thy virtues, Simplicity, dwell.

The morning's first visit attend,
Shall we watch for Aurora's first beam,
Then, Celadon, shall we, my friend,
Purloin from the stores of the stream.
Afar from the clack of the mill,
We'll stray to the head of the brook,
Or shall we curve round with the rill,
And practise the wiles of the hook.

The trout in his moss-fashion'd bed,
Observe all his gay-speckled pride,
How bright are his patches of red,
Live rubies that bleed in the tide!
Shall he bask in his sun-courted ray,
Still tenant his oozy recess,
Clash the current disporting in play,
Or shall we his pastime distress?

Ah, no, your more delicate breast
Forbids an enjoyment to gain,
Forbids any pleasure to rest,
Which flows from inflicting a pain.
Let others illusion design,
We'll scorn th' unwary to cheat,
Surrender the rod and the line,
And spurn from amusement deceit.

Your muse shall the season declare,
Your muse, not the least of the nine,
And pardon, should I for a share
Attempt your soft essays to join.
To Pan let us offer the song,
Perchance he may favour the lay,
Which serves the sweet theme to prolong,
For April's the mother of May.

[pp. 221-22]