1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

September. A Pastoral Poem.

Sentimental Magazine 2 (September 1774) 412-13.

Dr. William Perfect


Fourteen, later sixteen double-quatrain stanzas, signed "Mallingiensis, September 7, 1774." The pastoral for September rings changes on themes sounded elsewhere in the cycle, with objections to hunting, an allegorical portrait of the month, observations on the flora and fauna, and a concluding wedding blessing for Celadon and Penelope. There is a description of the hops being harvested in Kent ("Cantium"): "O then let us in early career, | Th' industrious vulgar survey, | To mirth and to jocus give ear, | For jocus and mirth lead the day." There is less local description in this cycle than one might expect given its georgic tendancy, though local description was admittedly not ordinarily a part of the pastoral ballad manner. The account of the beetle is one of the better of the many such descriptions in eighteenth-century verse: "By war art thou urg'd from thy home?"



Shall sorrow dash gall on my strain,
While echo alarm'd in the dale,
Responds to compassionate pain
That flows for the partridge and quail;
Responds to the merciless gun,
If cruelty harbour a joy,
Then Doriland rise with the sun,
For privilege grants to destroy.

I sigh at the cruel decree,
My minstrelsy pity implores,
As well might the muse bid the sea
Forbear to contend with the shores:
'Tis done, and the covey must bleed,
The plume of the stubble must fall;
In silence I shrink at the deed,
For pity is deaf to my call.

Tho' nature seems prone to decay,
The coverts less russet appear;
Contracted the length of the day,
Announces the eve of the year:
September revolves with delight,
A coronet circles his head,
Emboss'd with fair blossoms of white
The hopes splendid incense has shed.

His mantle the vine leaves compose,
A holyhock purples his hand,
Th' arbutus, the larkspur and rose
Disdain not their charms to expand:
Bloom lupines and sweet-scented peas,
The tamarisk modest in hue;
The bean clad in scarlet to please,
And aconite's prodigal blue.

His reign shall the cricket attend,
The green-coated herald of cold,
Does winter this messenger send,
His embassy drear to unfold.
But why peevish insect thus pine?
Has Fate then ordain'd thee to weep?
While querulous notes, ever thine,
Deny the refreshment of sleep.

And thou on the wings of dull sound,
Who humm'st the drear knell of the day,
O say on what circumstance bound,
Agility hastens thy way:
Why thus giant beetle to roam,
In ebony panoply dress'd?
By war art thou urg'd from thy home?
Or art thou by enemies press'd?

When ev'ning's brown shadows extend
To my bow'r, still crested with green,
Without invitation my friend
Will Celadon honour the scene.
Of Phoebus to catch the last gleam,
While friendship our numbers shall fill,
Those numbers respond from the stream
That steals from the foot of the hill.

Or when with her crimson the morn
Dispels the black dreams of the night;
Her pencil the day to adorn,
Depaints lawny scenes to the sight:
When hinds are arouz'd to their toil,
And nymphs o'er the eminence gain,
Where Cantium with many a smile,
Of Ceres receives the rude train.

O then let us in early career,
Th' industrious vulgar survey,
To mirth and to jocus give ear,
For jocus and mirth lead the day:
The plant interdicted no more,
With floscles of silver behold,
While farmers, enrich'd by its store,
Sing "Silver's the mother of gold."

Why need that the muse should essay,
Or hint to the generous breast,
That he who is happy to day,
With pity should eye the distress'd;
Ye planters this precept to learn,
See providence please to bestow,
Solicits that grateful return,
To feel for the anguish of woe.

And shall the remonstrance of need
The abject and wretched unseen,
To plenty unaided proceed,
Return with disconsolate mien;
Forbid it ye virtues, whose tears
Ere start at the plaints of distress,
Whose sympathy misery rears,
Whose arms are extended to bless.

But where now, Aonian nine,
Are your measures aetherial pour'd,
In humaniz'd cadence divine,
For whom is your melody stor'd?
The bells, o'er the mist-crested ground,
Delightfully usher a peal,
That Hymen has sanction'd the sound,
My heart is the muse that must feel.

This day to her Celadon's breast
The peerless Penelope gives,
September be ever confess'd
What honour thy empire receives.
Bless'd pair! for whom Hymen has wove
A wreath of unchangeable peace,
And supplicates blessings from Jove,
That time may affection increase.

Ye graces your beauties that lend,
Ye virtues that shed hallow'd fire,
Felicity beam on my friend,
The warmest, first lay of my lyre:
Fill, heaven, their measure of joys,
To bless their connubial solace,
Renown'd for his truth be their boys,
Their girls for her softness and grace.

[pp. 412-13]