1794
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Scotch Pastoral.

Poems on Several Occasions. By Mrs. Darwall (formerly Miss Whateley) in Two Volumes.

Mary Darwall


A pastoral eclogue in heroic couplets: Sandy complains of the fickle Mary who after beguiling his innocent heart turned her attentions to wealthier suitors. While Mary Darwall speaks elsewhere of her Doric muse, there is very little of a rustic character to her pastoral poetry: "Thy breast resembles Hecla's frozen snows, | Whilst oh! in mine its dire volcano glows, | Prey's on my vitals, fires my aching brain, | Steals from my sheep their guide, and from the grove my strain" 2:87-88.

Ann Messenger: "As the eighteenth century went on, pastoral became more and more closely associated with women writers who, as their numbers increased, were increasingly limited in what the reading and criticizing public allowed them to do. But pastoral was generally acceptable, so poets such as Mary Whateley Darwall (1738-1825) and Susanna Blamire (1747-94) wrote many poems in the mode" Pastoral Tradition and the Female Talent (2001) 3-4.



Soft breath'd the gale, and mild the sun-beams play'd
Thro' the tall pines that LEVEN'S banks o'er-shade;
When SANDY, pride of Fife, dejected lay,
Blind to the beauties of the vernal day;
All sad, and unrequited passion torn,
Beneath a cheerless, leafless, blighted thorn,
In broken sighs utt'ring his sad soul's grief,
Bereft of hope's bright beam, despairing of relief.
Thus mourn'd the youth: — "O! love, beneath thy pow'r
How my poor heart drags on the ling'ring hour!
The blithesome morn to me no pleasure brings,
No balm to me drops from night's dewy wings;
By MARY'S stern disdain and scorn oppress'd,
Despair and anguish rend my tortur'd breast.
O! MARY, why does ev'ry blooming grace
Deck thy fair form, and revel in thy face?
Why shine thine eyes with heav'n's etherial blue,
Why glow thy cheeks with nature's liveliest hue,
Whilst thy cold heart, in icy fetters bound,
No sighs can soften, no complaints can wound?
Thy breast resembles Hecla's frozen snows,
Whilst oh! in mine its dire volcano glows,
Prey's on my vitals, fires my aching brain,
Steals from my sheep their guide, and from the grove my strain.
Ah! what avails it that the rural throng
With rapture late wou'd listen to my song?
That village maids for me their chaplets wove?
That village youths to gain my friendship strove?
That on each festive day my sprightly strain
Call'd the light dancers to the daisied plain;
And, bounding like the roe on Fortha's side,
I led the reel, my bonny pipe their guide?
Now moping, listless, wan, I haunt the dell,
And to the blasted pines my sad heart's sorrows tell.

"Ah! MARY, why did thy enchanting smile
Cherish my flame and my fond heart beguile?
Why did my garland grace thy flowing hair?
Why on thy breast my nosegay bloom more fair?
Had'st thou those trivial gifts of love refus'd,
I might have griev'd, — but cou'd not have accus'd:
But the sweet love-fraught smile my soul subdu'd,
And in that smile love's kind'ling flame I view'd.
Oh! light as winds and waves, thy changeful mind,
As Plutus points, veers with th' inconstant wind.
Mildew'd my corn appears, my flock declines,
And round my once fair fields misfortune pines:
Whilst in the pride of beauty's transient bloom,
On wealthier lovers proudly you presume.

"Be your desires fulfill'd, — but know, false fair,
Wealth in its train shall bring remorse and care:
And whilst on Leven's banks forlorn I stray,
Wasting in fruitless plaints my youth away,
Thou with ten thousand added griefs shalt mourn,
A richer lover's broken vows and scorn."

[2:86-90]