1792
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Corydon: a Pastoral.

American Museum or Universal Magazine 7 (Appendix, 1792) 7-9.

Anonymous


A pastoral ballad in thirteen double-quatrain stanzas, not signed. This Philadelphia pastoral follows the norms of the genre very closely. Corydon gathers the shepherds around to tell how he was smitten with Phillis and of the pleasures he enjoyed in her company. But, alas, being but poor, he was ashamed to confess his love to her: "I know not the flatterer's tale; | I know not the language of art; | Will such with my Phyllis prevail— | Or the language that flows from the heart?" The poem concludes with the shepherd imagining his own death, and how all will affirm his truth and sincerity.

The American Museum was edited by Mathew Carey in Philadelphia from 1787 to 1792.



Our flocks shun the heat of the day;
To the grove, see, for shelter they creep;
Come, listen to Corydon's lay;
Ye shepherds, with Corydon weep.
Once, wanton and gay as the bee,
From flowret to flowret that roves,
My heart was so light, and so free,
And I laugh'd at the swains and their loves.

But Phyllis appear'd on the plain;—
Ye shepherds, the charmer you've seen,—
Her praise is the theme of each swain;
She's the fairest that trips on the green.
No rose-bud, that blushes at morn,
With Phyllis for sweetness can vie;
The dew-drop, that shines on the thorn,
Is faint, when compar'd to her eye.

Those lambkins around us that play,
They are not more gentle than she;
She's mild as the season in May;
Her manners are artless and free.
Of her glances, ye shepherds, beware:
They have wounded poor Corydon's heart;
Her smiles how enchanting they are!
They both rapture and anguish impart.

As I sat, where the rivulet strays,
By the side of yon' deep-shade and grove,
She came; and I could not but gaze;
I gaz'd; and I could not but love.
How oft' in yon' woodland retreat,
Has my pipe breath'd a sorrowful strain!
Kind echo the notes would repeat;
Nor Phyllis the song would disdain:

But when to the charmer I'd try,
The woes of my heart to unfold,
On my lip, the soft accents would die;
I said — "she will think me too bold;"
For small are the fields that are mine,
And the flocks that I own, are but few:
Yet at fortune I ne'er could repine,
For her favours I never could sue.

I know not the flatterer's tale;
I know not the language of art;
Will such with my Phyllis prevail—
Or the language that flows from the heart?
Ah! could she not know by my sighs
The woes my fond heart that oppress?
Yes, sure she has read in my eyes,
What language is weak to express.

Where now are the days of delight,
When I rose with the first of the dawn—
Saw the lark rise to welcome the light,
And brush'd o'er the dew-sprinkled lawn?
How bounded my bosom with joy,
When spring clad with verdure the ground,
When flowrets of each various dye
Shed beauty and fragrance around!

The moon all its sweets may display;
But with rapture I taste them no more;
The warblers may sing on the spray;
But my peace they can never restore!
If Phyllis is not by my side,
The trees seem all stript of their bloom,
The meadows disrob'd of their pride,
No flow'r breathes around its perfume!

All lost are the sweets of the vale—
All clouded the face of the sky;
The roses they fade, and look pale;
The lillies they droop and they die;
But when she appears on the plain,
How chang'd, how enliven'd the scene!
How sweet from the grove is the strain,
How gay is the daisey-deck'd green!

How smiles all the landscape around!
Not a flower but fairer it blows;
Not a tree but with verdure is crown'd,
Not a stream but more limpid it flows.
Ye zephyrs, ah! bear me my sighs,
Go, breathe out my plaint in her ear,
Go, tell her, that Corydon dies,
If his fate is, to love and despair!

But, ah! if some happier swain
Now triumph in Phyllis's love,—
Adieu to the joys of the plain,
Adieu to the song of the grove!
I'll fly from the haunts of the gay,
To desarts untrodden before;
No more with the shepherds I'll stray;
I'll visit my Phyllis no more!

But while — the sad victim of love—
I wander distrest and forlorn,
Such sorrow may Phyllis ne'er prove,
May her love meet a kinder return.
Perhaps, when my head is laid low,
My grave with a tear she'll bedew;
Perhaps, while her sorrows o'erflow,
She'll say — "he was constant and true!"

The sorrowing shepherds will come;
They'll sigh for poor Corydon's fate;
They'll say — "he is cold in the tomb—
The shepherd so jocund of late!
How oft has his pipe wak'd the grove!
But vainly for Phyllis he sigh'd,—
She bid him never sue for her love,—
The Shepherd obey'd her — and dy'd!"

[pp. 7-9]