1792
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Pastoral Elegy upon the Author of the Shipwreck.

Literary and Biographical Magazine and British Review 9 (August 1792) 153-54.

William Hamilton Reid


A pastoral ballad in eight anapestic quatrains, signed "W. Hamilton Reid" "In Imitation of Cunningham's, on the Death of Shenstone." The author of The Shipwreck (1762) is William Falconer (1732-69) who himself died at sea, as Reid points out: "Our hills and our vallies more kind, | May the swains to soft melodies move; | But the rough roar of ocean and wind, | He alone could to music improve." Falconer, Reid, and for that matter John Cunningham were all autodidacts. This is one of a series of poems imitating Cunningham's "Corydon, a Pastoral to the Memory of William Shenstone" (1763).



Come, sea-nymphs, and shew us the place,
On the deep or the desolate coast;
Where reft from the Muses' embrace,
All the pride of our wishes was lost.

He was manly, and free as his song,
He had ev'ry attraction to please;
In a storm he was first in the throng,
In a calm he was kind as the breeze.

Ye mariners, gen'rous and bold,
He pictur'd you gentle and brave;
And can such as his numbers unfold,
Dwell at ease on th' boisterous wave?

From the rocks and the shelves of the main,
From each danger he taught you to keep;
But my sighs will impede the sad strain,
He was whelm'd in the merciless deep.

No songs shall your labours beguile,
Nor resound from th' echoing shore;
Since he's gone who could soften your toil,
Since the Muse of th' ocean's no more.

No dolphin the billows shall ride,
No sun-beam the dark waves illume;
No Nereid disport on the tide,
That gave way to so cruel a doom.

Our hills and our vallies more kind,
May the swains to soft melodies move;
But the rough roar of ocean and wind,
He alone could to music improve.

So, ye Tritons, who range thro' the deep,
If his harp ye should find in your way;
Hang it high on some cloud-piercing steep,
For no hand but his own 'twill obey.

[pp. 153-54]