1758
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Ballad.

New American Magazine 1 (June 1758) 143.

Anonymous


A pastoral ballad in eight double-quatrain stanzas, not signed, "Written in the Month of May, of the Year 1758." This poem was composed as a sequel to the pastoral ballad that appeared in the New American Magazine in January. It is now Spring, and Colin finds himself unable to spurn the perfidious Daphne, especially as he is roused by the mocking-bird's song: "As he swells his melodious throat, | Far beyond every songster with wings, | So my muse shall excel her own note, | When of Love and of Daphne she sings."

This poem was reprinted in the London Magazine the following year, with a note informing readers that the mockingbird, native to America, "is perhaps the finest singing bird in the world." It is also, as its name implies, a notorious imitator. This poem is introduced as "By the Author of the Pastoral inscrib'd to Dignus," rather than as by the author of the original pastoral ballad, and it may be that the two poems are by different writers.

C. H. Timperley: "The New American Magazine, published monthly, at Woodbridge, in New Jersey, for two years. The editor was Samuel Nevil, judge of the supreme court of New Jersey, speaker of the house of assembly, and mayor of Amboy" Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:704.



Once more, O ye Muses, my song
To Daphne directs the love-strain:
Come help me, dear virgins, along;
And your Colin shall sweetly complain.
Now the winter is past, and the spring
Adorns with new beauties the grove;
And ev'ry blyth bird on the wing,
Proclaims tis the season of love.

Thro' the meadows and groves as I stray,
What verdure, what blossoms appear!
Yet these have their seasons in May,
But Daphne's all charms thro' the year.
Every flower that enamels the mead,
Every bird of the musical kind;
Nay the innocent lambs as they feed,
Bring something of Daphne to mind.

While I view the lambs harmlessly play,
Or attend to the warb'ling throng,
I think, how good humour'd and gay
She sings or smiles all the day long.
Yet the turtle's soft voice when I hear,
So sweetly bemoaning his state,
The mournful sound thrills thro' my ear,
And I think on my own cruel fate.

But hark — from a neighbouring spray,
The mocking bird raises his strains;
He bids me chear up and be gay,
To forget, for a while, my love-pains.
As he swells his melodious throat,
Far beyond every songster with wings,
So my muse shall excel her own note,
When of Love and of Daphne she sings.

For the violets perfuming the field,
And the daisies that blush thro' the grove,
In beauty and fragrance must yield,
To the breath, and the blush of my love.
With her bosom the lilly compare;
Happy flower there devoted to rest!
But it quickly wou'd die in despair,
Were it not for the Mole on her breast.

Foolish flow'r! still your triumph is vain;
For the Spot on that ravishing part,
Discovers the whiteness more plain,
And there Cupid stands shaking his dart.
There, in waving deportment he stands,
Like a champion to guard the dear prize;
And love's poison he holds in his hands,
For his arrows he dips in her eyes.

From her eyes once an arrow there flew,
And it pierc'd to my tenderest part;
For believe me, dear shepherds, tis true,
It remains still fast fix'd in my heart.
I have try'd to remove it in vain,
But it bleeds, and remains as before;
Then to Daphne, I still must complain,
I dare venture to move it no more.

Other beautiful Nymphs there are found,
Who have tried Colin's heart to allure;
But the eyes that inflicted the wound,
Can alone give the balsam to cure.
Other shepherds, fair Daphne may find,
With more riches, more art and design,
Who will flatter her person and mind,
But their love is not equal to mine.

[p. 143]