1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

July, a Pastoral Poem.

Sentimental Magazine 2 (July 1774) 316-17.

Dr. William Perfect


Fifteen, later sixteen double-quatrain stanzas, signed "Mallingiensis, July 8, 1774." The July pastoral, adopting a more serious tone than those immediately preceding, opens as a retirement ode celebrating the felicity enjoyed by the poet's friend Celadon, then modulates through the description of a thunderstorm to the praises of Delia and concluding reflections on mortality: "How like is the portrait of man: | The morn of his infancy fades, | The race of his manhood soon ran, | And age sinks in death's night of shades."



Ye Dryads, who woo the recess
Where the oak's ample shadow extends,
To your haunts of retirement I press,
And the muse my intrusion attends.
From the morning too brilliant I stray,
From the solar meridian blaze,
When mute is the chorister's lay,
And the sun darts his vertical rays.

Retirement, how sweet is thy pow'r!
I fly from the indolent breeze;
I fly from the hot-parching hour;
Receive me, ye gloom-shedding trees.
With you lonely silence prevails,
You shelter my Celadon's seat,
Whose cot no ambition assails,
Except to be honest and neat.

No sycophant here shall be heard,
Where Friendship her quietude seeks,
Sincerity utters the word
From the lips of Veracity speaks.
What tho' in this temperate scite,
This hermitage, hidden and mean,
No pane of high polish the light
Reflects to illumine the scene;

What tho' on the unadorn'd wall
Shall sculpture her chissel deny!
No portal conduct to the hall,
Where paintings replenish the eye!
Yet here, in profusion of sweets,
Calm Solitude leads by the hand
The hind that Felicity meets,
And scorns every wish to be grand.

The gay fascination of wealth
No envy to Celadon brings,
Be his but contentment and health,
With pity he looks down on kings.
Secure from vexation and strife,
Devotion sheds balm on his breast;
How smooth is that tenor of life,
Where conscience strews poppies of rest.

The amaranth has not deny'd
The eglantine's blossoms to join;
The lily, high rising in pride,
Her silver extols to the vine.
The boughs of the apple and pear
A canopy mutually form,
His cottage from perils to spare,
When rises the war of the storm.

E'en now clouds collecting behold,
Whose darkness conceals the sun's light,
Tho' noon yet what horrors unfold!
Present an unseasonable night.
The thunder, impressive of pain,
Rolls awful solemnity round;
Thro' clouds it reverb'rates again;
Re-echoes the dread-striking sound.

How dark and how dismal the scene!
Now rushes in torrents the rain;
Red flashes of fate intervene,
How shakes with convulsions the plain!
Let elements wildly contend,
Tho' the aether dissolve in a blaze;
To the breast of my unappall'd friend,
Their fury no trouble conveys.

The terrible concert is o'er,
Hush'd all its unfortunate rage;
Great Ruler to thee let me pour
The thanks which my bosom engage.
The tempest is o'er, and the sun
Descends with his Thetis to rest,
If e'er by my theme thou wert won,
Come, Delia, sole queen of my breast.

Lo! Ev'ning, mild daughter of Day,
In aspect as thee, most serene,
Her smiles shall enliven my lay,
So calm and unclouded her mien.
The lark to her nestlings descends,
The wood deepens faster to brown;
To the village the cottager bends,
The village that's sought by the town.

The flocks and the herds are at large,
Their coverts of coolness they leave
To taste of the rills blady marge,
And share the soft gifts of the eve.
The swallow, in search of his prey,
Skims lightly o'er thistle and brake,
Glides swift as for plunder, or prey,
His wings dash the wave of the lake.

How bright are the smiles of the youth,
Where summer perpetually reigns!
Thou gem of original truth,
Shall we join in the dance on the plains?
Thro' the fields where the purple-ey'd tare
Blooms lavish thy presence to greet:
To the glade of refreshment repair,
Where offers the moss-cushion'd seat.

To gain a repast for the eye,
Yon eminence shall we explore;
There, Delia, together descry
The streamers that crimson the shore,
Till the view by gradation shall fade,
The ev'ning's late shadows prevail,
And Cynthia soft mantles in shade,
Full orb'd, tells her wonderful tale.

Thou pride of my pastoral lay,
Dear maid of my uniform love,
Soon the morn of the bright summer's day,
And its noon must to ev'ning remove.
Whose bliss-giving shadows are fled,
But soon shall the morning renew;
Her charms that no longer are spread,
To paint the magnificent view.

How like is the portrait of man:
The morn of his infancy fades,
The race of his manhood soon ran,
And age sinks in death's night of shades.
But like welcome morning's return,
Re-born the sunk mortal shall rise,
In triumph shall burst from the urn,
And beam in the bliss of the skies.

[pp. 316-17]