1775
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Simkin and Maria. A Pastoral.

Sentimental Magazine 3 (April 1775) 183-84.

Ambrosia


A pastoral eclogue signed "Ambrosia, Berkley Square, Mar. 11, 1775." Though written more in the British than the classical mode, this pastoral imitates Alexander Pope rather than John Gay. Maria fears that Simkin has been unfaithful in his absence: "Tell the dear rover — when I cease to love, | The birds shall chaunt no longer to the grove; | The shepherds shall their fleecy care forsake, | The waves their murmurs on the bubbling lake." Drawn to the fair maid by Echo, Simkin pledges his constancy: "Behold in him a youth who love has taught | Honour to know, and to avoid a fault; | Whose precepts taught him constancy and truth, | The best companions of unguarded youth." Maria quotes a line from Pope's "Autumn. The Third Pastoral" and Simkin from "Winter. The Fourth Pastoral." In sentimental poems like this "simplicity" becomes synonymous with "sincerity."



When all was hush'd beneath the mask of night,
And silent darkness reign'd instead of light;
When sleep in soothing slumbers stole away
The wild desires of men, and toils of day,
(Sweet sleep, which brings descending through the air,
A quick forgetfulness of human care)
The gloomy thoughts that rack'd Maria's breast,
Robb'd the fair vestal of her midnight rest;
She, simple fair one, scorning that relief
Which ev'ry wretch can find, gave way to grief;
And in her ecstasies she thus addrest
The swain that play'd the tyrant in her breast.

MARIA.
If the dear youth delights in pleasing glades,
With him I'd seek the most sequester'd shades;
With him the desart and the moor I'd rove,
And can he leave me for another's love?
Yes! — he forgets the tender things he said,
The many vows and promises he made
To me, when shelter'd in that shady bow'r,
Free from the rays of Phoebus' scorching pow'r,
Attended only by those bleeting sheep,
Which then upon these pastures I did keep.
But now those glorious days will charm no more,
No more with glee pass o'er the fleeting hour,
No more recall that modulated lay,
Which pass'd with pleasure the long summer's day.
Yet still I've hopes he'd not relentless prove,
If once he knew how ardently I love.
"Go gentle gales, and bear my sighs along,"
To Simkin's ear convey my tender song;
Tell the dear rover — when I cease to love,
The birds shall chaunt no longer to the grove;
The shepherds shall their fleecy care forsake,
The waves their murmurs on the bubbling lake;
E'en Nature's self forget she Nature is,
And poor Maria seek some dark abyss.

So sung the nymph, till fair Aurora's ray
Show'd, in despight of night, returning day;
Joyous dispelling all those vap'rous dews,
That doth on rising sweets infernal blasts infuse.
All nature seem'd awake — the birds begun
To welcome with their songs the rising sun;
The rustic swain had left his rural bed,
To earn with pleasing toil his daily bread:
When she arose — and sought the verdant bow'r,
There to relax her thoughts, and ease the heavy hour.

But still not finding that long-wish'd repose,
Which could allay the torrent of her woes,
Responsive Echo she with tears implor'd,
To waft her song to him she long ador'd.
Echo in mimick sounds the silence broke,
Speechless herself but when Maria spoke.
Which soon saluted Simkin, as he stood,
Robbing the fruit trees of their useless wood;
The peach, the apple, and the spreading vines,
He by his care to proper ranks confines:
A soft relentance seiz'd his flutt'ring breast,
He flew, and thus his boundless joy exprest.

SIMKIN.
Why art thou weeping in this pensive shade?
Why such dejection on thy looks display'd?
Speak my Maria! — calm thy sobbing breast,
Say, what new phantom has thy soul opprest?
I fear an envious undermining friend,
Has strove to rival by some treach'rous end.
But let not such delusive terrors fright,
Behold thy Simkin prostrate to thy sight:
Behold in him a youth who love has taught
Honour to know, and to avoid a fault;
Whose precepts taught him constancy and truth,
The best companions of unguarded youth.
Speak then, dear maid, a while suspend thy grief,
And let my presence give thy heart relief.

MARIA.
Oh, Simkin! Simkin! such has been my care,
The slow-pac'd days have witness'd my despair:
I, like the turtle who her mate deplores,
Fill'd with deep murmurs all the sounding shores:
Your absence caus'd such tumults in my breast,
Such gloomy fears, that robb'd my soul of rest.
Winds murmur'd through their leaves your long delay,
And fountains o'er their pebbles chid your stay:
But now your presence chears — they cease to mourn,
And walks wear fresher greens at your return.

SIMKIN.
Say, lovely maid, was absence all thy fear?
How could you doubt I shouldn't prove sincere?
The spreading alders shall their shades deny,
The rose and lily hang their heads and die;
The flow'rs shall droop, their beauty too decay,
And birds to sing their modulated lays;
All things in nature shall dejection prove,
Ere I forsake the fair one that I love.

MARIA.
What says my Simkin? — can my bosom bear
This sweet alternative from hope and fear?
O lovely youth, may absence ne'er divide
That knot which Love's all-conquering pow'r has ty'd.
We'll range together o'er the sloping hills,
And sip the chrystal which the stream distills,
Where bleating lambs in wanton gambols play,
We'll pass the chearful moments of the day.

But see the sun begins to seek his bed,
And sickly dews obnoxious vapours shed;
The shepherds seek their rural cot's retreat,
To close the labours of the mid-day heat.

SIMKIN.
Then let us home — and seize the fleeting day,
"Time conquers all, and we must time obey."

[pp. 183-84]