1794
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Swain of the Mountains. A Pastoral, in the Welsh Manner.

Poems, Lyric and Pastoral. In Two Volumes. By Edward Williams

Edward Williams


A pastoral lyric in six double-quatrain stanzas. Hearing the Thrush singing in the bush, the poet makes a request: "Sweet Thrush, wilt thou leave thy green haunts in the grove, | And fly, quickly fly, with my dolorous tale | To the pride of the Lowlands, the fair one I love? | I'll wait thy return here alone in the vale" 1:93. The Thrush bears the poet's melody to Delia, and returns with her three sighs, at which signal the poet hastes away "on the wings of desire." The diction in this poem is "British," which is to say, derived from Spenserian pastoral by way of Ambrose Philips and his imitators. Williams's innovation lies in the lyric conceit taken from Welsh tradition. The two volumes of Poems, Lyric and Pastoral contain dozens of pastorals in a variety of modes.

Author's note: "In this piece many of the peculiarities of the songs of Wales are designedly introduced, as a specimen of the old national manner of the Welsh in their Poems, and particularly in their Love-songs. Strong metaphors, wild and sudden transitions, strange, and sometimes fantastical, personifications, are amongst the characteristics of the Poetry of ancient and modern Welsh Bards. It is rather remarkable, that this nationality in poetic taste should still be retained unaltered, when at the same time the inhabitants of Wales are not much, if any thing, behind other European nations in their acquaintance with ancient and modern literature" 1:95-96.



When smiling Felicity warbles her song,
The soul-touching numbers harmoniously flow,
The moments of Gladness come urgent along,
And bid all the feelings of ecstacy glow.
Thus, reclin'd with his lambs on the marge of a brook,
The Swain of the Mountains melodiously sung;
The sun-shine of Happiness beam'd in his look;
Joy trill'd in the sound of his musical tongue.

Far down in this dale, the first morning in June,
I mournfully walk'd near the murmuring rill,
The Thrush, in wild melody warbled his tune,
From a gay-blooming bush of the copse-cover'd hill.
Sweet Thrush, wilt thou leave thy green haunts in the grove,
And fly, quickly fly, with my dolorous tale
To the pride of the Lowlands, the fair one I love?
I'll wait thy return here alone in the vale.

Now to the wild woodlands I fly from the mead,
And through the lone thicket I silently mourn;
Go, Thrush, haste away with a Lover's warm speed,
Beneath thy lov'd hawthorn I wait thy return.
Now pensively rambling, now laid on the ground,
I strive to beguile the sad moments of grief;
I search the green copse and gay meadows around,
But nothing, alas! can afford me relief.

The thicket's wild songster flew swift o'er the plain,
Convey'd to my Delia the passionate lay;
My anguish related, well-pictur'd my pain,
And bore three soft sighs from my charmer away.
Returning in haste, yonder comes my sweet Thrush:
Approach thy green arbour, no danger lies here;
What hast thou to chaunt on thy favourite bush?
What tidings of comfort? what news from my dear?

I flew to thy Delia, she saunter'd alone,
On her eglantine bow'r I related my tale,
Thy sorrowful ditty, thy musical moan,
Attun'd her to love, — all thy wishes prevail;
Be chear'd, pensive shepherd, no longer delay,
These sighs are thy Delia's, they rush'd on the gale;
On pinions of Love to thy fair haste away,
This ev'ning she'll meet thee far down in the dale.

I flew to my nymph on the wings of desire,
In her eglantine bow'r she sate pensive and sad;
I kiss'd her dear lips, and Love's delicate fire
Blaz'd up in our hearts, both were silently glad.
Sweet Thrush of the copse, chaunt again thy wild tune,
And let my bless'd fate through the vallies be known;
My Delia comply'd the third morning in June,
The Swain of the Mountains now calls her his own.

[1:92-95]