1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral.

The Death of Amnon. A Poem. With an Appendix: containing Pastorals, and other Poetical Pieces. By Elizabeth Hands.

Elizabeth Hands


The third pastoral by Elizabeth Hinds is lost-and-found shifts to the narrative mode, the theme being lost-and-found. Damon has lost his steeds, though it seems that his real object is Daphne, who has previously rejected his suit. He encounters Laura and is informed that Daphne has found a lost dog which she intends to restore to its owner: "Ah, wretched Damon! doom'd to love in vain, | She loves the dog, she loves the shepherd-swain; | Oh Daphne! I'll to death thy loss deplore, | These lips shall ne'er salute a virgin more." Damon finds Daphne on the hill, and invites her for a spring-tide stroll: "The maid consented, making no reply; | What maid could such a small request deny?" The steeds and the dog are soon forgotten.



Young Damon gay, a faithful-hearted swain,
Long sought fair Daphne's love, but sought in vain;
He often told her how sincere he lov'd,
As oft the nymph his ardent flame reprov'd;
While yet his passion labour'd in his mind,
He walk'd abroad his straying steeds to find;
Just then fair Laura went across the green,
Long time this nymph fair Daphne's friend had been;
The swain to meet her stept across the way;
She stopt to hear what Damon had to say.

DAMON.
Say, friendly maid, why wand'ring here along?
Where is thy friend, the lovely Daphne gone?
Ah! has some rival led her to the grove?
And may I never hope for Daphne's love?

LAURA.
A shepherd's fav'rite dog long lost has been,
Fair Daphne found him wand'ring on the green;
Much does the shepherd-swain his loss deplore,
The nymph is gone the wand'rer to restore.

DAMON.
Ah, wretched Damon! doom'd to love in vain,
She loves the dog, she loves the shepherd-swain;
Oh Daphne! I'll to death thy loss deplore,
These lips shall ne'er salute a virgin more.

LAURA.
Despair not, Damon, of fair Daphne's love,
Thy vows repeated, may her pity move;
See, up yon hill ascends the maiden gay,
Thou may'st o'ertake her, Damon, haste away.

She said, and Damon turn'd his eyes around,
And saw the maid ascend the rising ground;
Swift are the feet of messengers, that bring
Glad news of conquests to their sov'reign King;
But up the steep more swiftly Damon came,
Love, urg'd by fear, has swifter wings than fame.
The lovely Daphne smil'd to see him run,
And thus the swain in humble suit begun:

DAMON.
Why Daphne here, from ev'ry friend apart?
What on this hill can charm thy virgin heart?
If down the other side thou would'st descend,
My lovely maid, permit me to attend.

DAPHNE.
Now spring with verdure ev'ry field adorns,
And birds are singing on the bloomy thorns,
Can such things fail to charm? but Damon say,
How did you know that I was come this way?

DAMON.
I walk'd abroad, my straying steeds to see;
But my fond heart was still pursuing thee;
They were my small, but thou my greater care,
O happy chance, that led me to my fair.

DAPHNE.
A shepherd's dog has long been gone astray,
I found him on the green the other day;
This fav'rite dog, the swain does much lament,
I'll lead him home, and give the swain content.

DAMON.
Why in such haste! the sun, my fair one, see,
Is yet as high as yonder lofty tree;
Those verdant meadows, where fresh daisies grow,
Invite our steps, my Daphne, shall we go?

The maid consented, making no reply;
What maid could such a small request deny?
A chrystal stream, in gentle murmurs glides
Along the valley, and the meads divides;
Along the banks the verdant alders grow,
Their branches bending to the stream below;
The tender leaves that hung on ev'ry spray,
And hawthorn blossoms shew'd the month was May;
Flow'rs, of various hue, bedeck'd the shade,
And there young Damon led the tender maid:
Her slender waist no gaudy ribband bound,
But Damon's arm did form a circle round;
Soft were the whisp'rings of the western gale,
But with more softness Damon told his tale;
The pleasing tale the maid in silence heard,
But in her heart the gentle swain preferr'd;
Thus o'er one meadow they were quickly gone,
Yet still by pleasant meadows tempted on,
How soon the lovers moments passed away,
How soon, how soon, approach'd the close of day,
The sun departed, and the plains grew damp,
And rising Cynthia trimm'd her silver lamp;
No more the bird to charm the year aspir'd,
And wand'ring lovers from the plain retir'd;
The swain ne'er thought to go, his steeds to find,
The nymph forgot to leave her dog behind.

[pp. 62-65]