1790
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Corydon. A Pastoral.

Literary Magazine and British Review 4 (February 1790) 137.

S. B.


A pastoral ballad in thirteen anapestic quatrains, signed "S. B." Corydon has been betrayed in love by the perfidious Maria: "Ah! who could have thought that a form | So divine could have harbour'd untruth; | But, alas! she has left me forlorn, | She is gone with a treach'rous youth." After sounding a warning lest other should find themselves in his condition, he hurls himself into the river Avon. The name of the "treacherous youth," Paridel, is taken from Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad.

In May 1790 this poem became subject to a rather unusual case of plagiarism in Walker's Hibernian Magazine, where it was republished without signature. There are verbal changes in the first stanza, and in the last the River Avon is altered to "Liffey."



As lately he sought the dark grove,
Where silence and solitude reign,
Thus Corydon, tortur'd with love,
Was mournfully heard to complain.

"Thou, Philomel, who with thy strains
Can'st calm the rough tempest of care,
While the curfew calls homeward the swains,
Sweetly warblest a sorrowful air.

"Now hush'd is the wind on the hill,
The herds in the plain are at rest,
The beasts in the forest are still,
But sorrow keeps wakeful my breast.

"Ah! why, thou sweet songstress of night!
Ah, why dost thou plaintively mourn?
Thy causes of sorrow are light,
Thy pleasures shall quickly return.

"But care, like a cankering worm,
Invisibly feeds on my breast;
Nought is mine, but in silence to mourn,
A stranger for ever to rest.

"For ah! my Maria has prov'd
Inconstant and light as the wind;
The nymph whom I tenderly lov'd,
Has fled, to my passion unkind.

"Ah! who could have thought that a form
So divine could have harbour'd untruth;
But, alas! she has left me forlorn,
She is gone with a treach'rous youth.

"But, why do I mourn thus in vain,
Thus pensively sigh to the wind?
I cannot but choose to complain,
For the nymph that I love is unkind.

"Sweet chorister, ease with thy strains,
This burden of woe that I bear;
Tell echo to sing o'er the plains,
That Corydon dies of despair.

"So haply the story may reach
Maria's perfidious ear;
And the treach'rous Paridel teach,
Both her smiles and professions to fear.

"Ye nymphs, to the swains that ye love,
Your vows never heedlessly make;
Lest light and inconstant ye prove,
And those vows full as heedlessly break.

"Ye shepherds, advised by me,
Of deceitfulness ever beware;
Tho' lovely and beauteous she be,
Yet remember that frail is the fair."

He ceas'd, and beholding the deep
Of Avona's impassible wave;
He sought by a desperate leap,
A relief from his cares in the grave.

[p. 137]