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


A brief pastoral ballad in the manner of John Cunningham, in seven quatrains. In this poem Daphne has a new partner, Thirsis, who entertains her one a summer evening with the strains of his flute: "How pleasing the prospect, how cooling the breeze; | The sun shone delightfully 'round; | And apples half ripe, grew so thick on the trees, | The boughs almost bent to the ground." Since Hands published her volume at a mature age, it seems not unlikely that some of the poems were composed ten or even twenty years before publication. This flawless pastoral ballad, however, seems like mature work.



As Thirsis and Daphne, upon the new hay
Were seated, surveying the plain;
No guilt in their bosoms their joys to allay,
Or give them a moment of pain.

Not Venus, but Virtue had made them her care,
She taught them her innocent skill;
The swain knew no art, but to pleasure the fair
That Nature had form'd to his will.

Inspir'd by love, on his pipe he did play;
O Virtue! how happy the swain!
While sweet Robin-red-breast that perch'd on the spray,
And Daphne was pleas'd with the strain.

How pleasing the prospect, how cooling the breeze;
The sun shone delightfully 'round;
And apples half ripe, grew so thick on the trees,
The boughs almost bent to the ground.

Thus happily seated, by sympathy bound,
How pleasing the mutual chain;
When either is absent, the prospects around
Display all their beauties in vain.

They sat till the mist that arose from the brook,
Inform'd them the ev'ning was nigh;
The swain shook his head with a languishing look,
And 'rose from his seat with a sigh.

His flute he disjointed, and silent a while
He gaz'd on his maid with delight;
Then he gave her his hand, she arose with a smile,
He kiss'd her, and bid her good night.

[pp. 72-73]