1793
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hebe: a Pastoral.

Massachusetts Magazine or Monthly Museum 5 (October 1793) 632.

Anonymous


A pastoral elegy in five double-quatrain stanzas, not signed. The poem presents the verse character of a pious woman who died "When first with the maid it was noon": "Her Maker she e'er made her theme, | His goodness was glad to rehearse; | And oft by some sweet winding stream, | She echo'd his praises in verse." The ballad concludes with the injunction that the nymphs of the plain follow the moral example of Hebe. The themes of this poem are uncommon enough that one might suppose the elegy was composed for a particular person. The poem is printed without breaks between stanzas.



Come virgins, who dwell on the plain,
And weep with a shepherd sincere;
Come listen, and learn from my strain,
Since Hebe no longer is here;
For she was so modest and meek,
What mildness with her could compare?
But, oh! my muse scarcely can speak
The beauties that bloom'd in the fair!

Her mind was a stranger to strife,
Contentment she valu'd to free;
Religion she lov'd as her life,
For none were more pious than she:
Her Maker she e'er made her theme,
His goodness was glad to rehearse;
And oft by some sweet winding stream,
She echo'd his praises in verse.

But, ah! the dear damsel is gone!
Her songs of devotion are o'er!
And the nymphs and the swains are forlorn,
Since Hebe their pride is no more:
For, oh! she e'er taught them the way
To virtue, to honour, and truth;
And while they were sportive and gay
She bade them reflect in their youth.

'Till death with his scythe came along,
And blighted her blossoms so soon;
He cut her off short from the throng,
When first with the maid it was noon.
Yet calmly her breath she resign'd,
For no one e'er saw her distrest;
And while on her arm she reclin'd,
She gently sunk into her rest!

Then virgins who frolick and play,
Regardless of sorrow and care,
Come round and attend to the lay,
And weep for the loss of the fair!
Like her, oh! pursue the right way,
Like her be religious and staid:
Ah! cease ye gay nymphs for to stray,
And copy the mild matchless maid.

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