1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Pastoral Queen. In imitation of Cunningham.

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

John Richardson


A pastoral ballad in six anapestic quatrains in which John Richardson celebrates his conjugal bliss with Phillis, the subject of a series of his pastoral poems: "A wreath she entwin'd, and fixed on my brows, | 'Tother day in an eglantine grove; | Saying, 'This my fond Swain's a reward for thy vows, | And a token of conjugal love.'" The model for this poem is John Cunningham's popular "Content, a Pastoral" (1763). Like Cunningham, Richardson was a North-Country poet; Richardson may have known Cunningham, or at least seen him perform, when he was living in Newcastle as a young man.

If Phillis was indeed Richardson's wife, she died under tragic circumstances Richardson records in "An Epitaph on my Wife, who died in Child-bed after a Matrimonial State of Nine Months; January 28, 1779."



Enough, now my PHILLIS is kind as she's fair,
And no Shepherdess fairer can be;
Take, take O ye winds DAMON'S burthen of care,
For no Villager's happy as he.

Reclin'd by some rill, whilst our lambs are at play,
For my pipe we soft sonnets compose;
Each ev'ning recount all the pleasures of day,
And retire with our flocks to repose.

Our straw-roofed cot with no grandeur abounds,
Yet CONTENTMENT'S there pleased to reside,
The casement a curling sweet woodbine surrounds,
Which was planted and nurs'd by my bride.

A wreath she entwin'd, and fixed on my brows,
'Tother day in an eglantine grove;
Saying, "This my fond Swain's a reward for thy vows,
And a token of conjugal love."

While CONSTANCY lives, THIS, uninjur'd by Time,
Shall declare thee the pride of the plain,
Eternize thy name in eulogies sublime,
By the title, THE FAITHFULLEST SWAIN.

Such kindness I thus will, ye Shepherds, repay,
With a mantle of beautiful green;
A primrosy garland to hail the new May,
And denote her, the PASTORAL QUEEN.

[pp. 38-40]