1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Winter, a Pastoral.

Poems on Various Occasions, chiefly Pastoral, by J. Richardson, a Yorkshire Volunteer.

John Richardson


A pastoral ballad in seven anapestic quatrains. This is one of many examples of the eighteenth-century conflation of pastoral measure with georgic themes: "Dispoil'd are the jessamines of green, | Their fragrance the woodbines have lost; | A rose-bud — not one to be seen, | Enchain'd lies the riv'let by frost." The process had been begun much earlier by Spenser himself, who introduced the seasonal theme into his Shepheardes Calender. John Richardson was an obscure schoolmaster in Sheffield Park, one of a number of provincial poets who crafted a literary identity for themselves out of the pastoral ballad measure. This poem seems intended as a counterpart to "Spring, a Pastoral" included elsewhere in the volume.



Ah! whither bright Phoebus so fast?
Why post it so quickly away?
To what distant climate such haste,
Great source, and sole Regent of day?

The flowrets — not one now remains,
For gone is their life-beaming God;
Save daisies, a few on the plains,
That languish and droop on the clod.

Dear vi'lets, your loss I bemoan,
But, destin'd by FATE was your doom;
My pinks, but for this were you blown,
And PHILLIS was fond of your bloom.

Dispoil'd are the jessamines of green,
Their fragrance the woodbines have lost;
A rose-bud — not one to be seen,
Enchain'd lies the riv'let by frost.

The blackbird's mellifluous notes,
No more from the thickets resound;
No linnets distend their sweet throats,
No songster of joy to be found.

All, all seem in sadness to mourn,
Distorted and ransack'd the year;
But Phoebus, in sooth, will return,
And joy to illumine the sphere.

So Man (for his date is no more)
Just passes, we sorrow a while;
The year of his life is but o'er,
And Mirth gives the pleasure-form'd smile.

[pp. 29-30]