1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

August. A Pastoral Poem.

Sentimental Magazine 2 (August 1774) 364.

Dr. William Perfect


Ten, later thirteen double-quatrain stanzas signed "Mallingiensis, August 9, 1774." Dr. Perfect hymns the pleasures and cares of a fat month, with a description of the harvest-home: "Behold o'er the widen'd champaign | Rich sheaves of the sun-ripen'd corn; | High-rais'd on the slow-moving wain, | The ricks to replete and adorn." The August pastoral concludes with the inset tale of Amanda and Leander, in which Cupid makes away with what was intended for Ceres — a belated introduction of ballad material into the cycle. This poem seems not to have been reprinted in the 1780s.



Strews Nature her blessings around,
The labours of harvest my theme;
Autumnus redundantly crown'd,
Pours plenty's unlimited stream.
To Summer in silver attir'd
The muse bids reluctant farewell,
Her beauties so nearly expir'd,
I weep from the shade of my cell.

To Leo bright Phoebus inclin'd,
Plump Autumn is ripen'd to birth;
To splendid Aquarius consign'd,
Proceeds on her journey the earth.
Right chearful of heart the rude train
From the village of Industry pour,
Now people the gold-garnish'd plan,
In, Ceres, the midst of thy store.

From realms of retirement the hare
Quick conscious of jeopardy springs;
The patridge the voice of rough care
Avoids on vociferous wings:
Alas, hapless bird! o'er thy head
Fate hovers destruction to send;
In vain for your safety I shed
The plaints my feelings commend.

But I see o'er the widen'd champaign,
Thick sheaves of the full ripen'd corn,
High rais'd on the ponderous wain,
Move slow the tall rick to adorn.
In ridges the barley reclin'd,
Dazzles, while to the fugitive eye
Each scene kindles up to the mind
A providence rich from the sky.

Digressive shall critics excuse
The bard for a moment to stray?
Shall criticks? — compos'd be my muse,
Too mean for their mark is thy lay.
'Twas now when with equipoz'd scales
Fair Libra directed the hour,
From wings of the hot sunny gales,
Sooth'd toil's long exertion of pow'r.

'Twas now when Amanda the fair,
The rose-bud of innocent truth,
Sole pride of an antiquate pair,
Who labour'd and lov'd from their youth;
To Ceres a tribute preferr'd,
Two turtles but new from their nest,
A ribbon of blue to each bird
Hung flauntingly over its breast.

From cottage that's lapp'd in the dale,
Where silence on pillow of down
Bids rustic contentment regale
In comforts unknown to a crown:
Amanda stray'd slowly along,
With bosom estrang'd from a care,
Her transport confess'd in a song,
Though simple, of elegant air.

Leander, the subtle and gay,
From revels of harvest return'd,
By chance cross'd the nymph on her way,
Her errand ingeniously learn'd.
Suffice that seductive of art,
The present to Ceres denied,
By the force of Cytherian dart,
Cupid bore to his mother with pride.

Forbid that one hint should expose,
Forbid it compassionate care;
Yet still that she rivals the rose,
My muse, 'tis not thine to declare.
Misguided Amanda, how lost!
Discretion permitted to sleep;
O'er thy summer of beauty the frost
Of contempt will voraciously creep.

Learn hence, ye soft queens of desire,
That virtue should beauty protect;
From modesty scorn to retire,
Ensuring a decent respect.
Be art with persuasion combin'd—
The whispers of prudence approve,
Lest too late, like Amanda, you find
That Autumn's the Winter of love.

[p. 364]