1797
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Elegy.

Aberdeen Magazine or Universal Repository 2 (November 1797) 559-61.

Anonymous


A pastoral ballad in nineteen anapestic quatrains, not signed. In this elegy the peace of the vale has been broken by the outbreak of war with France, though the shepherds in their simplicity seems to have small ken of the larger scene of events. Corydon inquires why Daphne is weeping, and learns that her brother has departed for the wars: "And thus could he leave you! sweet smiling retreats! | By Ambition's bold influence borne, | Where War's ruthless ravage, each ruin completes, | And triumphs o'er millions that mourn!" The (modest) intrusion of social realism into this poem is typical of 1790s pastoral.



When Phoebus effulgent, in glory serene,
Shed his last glowing beams on the bowers;
While trees gently wav'd their gay foliage of green,
Over meads, all enamell'd with flowers:

'Twas then, that apart from the mirth-moving throng,
Young Daphne reclin'd in the shade;
She heeded no gambols, she heard not the song,
Glad echoes around her convey'd.

For Woe's baleful arrows, had wounded her breast,
And injur'd her beautiful eyes;
Till pain'd with a sorrow, but feebly suppress'd,
She retir'd, to discard the disguise.

And sadly supine, she devoted the hour
To tears, tender plainings, and sighs;
When Corydon, rambling by chance to the bower,
Thus express'd his regard, and surprise:—

"Alone, and afflicted! dear Daphne (he cry'd,)
Why heaves thy fair bosom the sigh?
What cares, or what crosses, can Daphne betide,
To cloud the bright beams of her eye!

"So lively of late, when she danc'd on the green,
No nymph could with Daphne compare;
While her wit, and her beauty enliven'd the scene,
We forgot ev'ry cross, and each care."

"Ah! spare these encomiums, (fair Daphne reply'd)
On attractions, all transient and vain;
Encomiums so partial, were dear to my pride;
But they soothe neither sorrow nor pain!

"For, alas! I lament, and my eyes overflow;
Yet my tears, nor my plaints can avail!
My strength, and my spirits are wasted with woe;
And I still but repeat the sad tale!

"How bright shone the morn, when your Daphne was gay,
The fields and each floweret so fair!
The lark sung so sweet, and I carrol'd away,
With a breast as unruffl'd by care.

"But since my dear, cruel Alexis, has flown
From his friends, and his flocks in the vale;
No Rose, in full brilliance of beauty is blown;
No Jess'mines their fragrance exhale!

"But the Jess'mine may sweetly exhale its perfume,
Nor thus droop on its delicate stem;
The Rose in full brilliance of beauty may bloom;
War, can tempt no dear Brother from them!

"But his Daphne, must ever lament the dear swain,
Though he bade not poor Daphne farewel!
Though he priz'd not, our pleasures, and peace on the plain,
The hamlet, green woodland, or dell.

"And thus could he leave you! sweet smiling retreats!
By Ambition's bold influence borne,
Where War's ruthless ravage, each ruin completes,
And triumphs o'er millions that mourn!

"Ah me! from such scenes of dire peril and pain,
That bereave the rack'd feelings of rest;
He will never return, rural peace to regain,
And the friendships that render it blest!"

Thus mournfully ending, she quitted the grove,
Bedew'd with soft sympathy's tears;
While Corydon try'd, in the language of love,
To beguile the faint heart, of its fears.

"Oh reflect, (he repeats) it were weakness to grieve,
Over fear-form'd presages of woe:
Repel them, sweet friend; and from reason receive,
What comfort kind hope can bestow.

"Alexis with honour, shall gladly return,
When War's ruthless carnage is o'er;
Our plains, and pure pleasures, no longer to spurn;
And be lur'd by Ambition no more.

"From scenes where oppression, and peril and pain,
Often reave the rack'd feelings of rest;
He will gladly return, grateful peace to regain,
And the friendships that render it blest.

"Then my Daphne again shall be carelessly gay,
While the meads with her music resound;
Each brake, bush, and woodland, shall catch the loud lay,
And all Nature with beauty be crown'd."

[pp. 559-61]