1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On a Wedding.

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

Elizabeth Hands


A pastoral ballad epithalamium in five quatrains. This poem marks the climax of Elizabeth Hands's pastorals. Since so little is known about her it would be difficult to say how closely her own life resembles that of her eidolon Daphne — poets are never on their honor in any event. But Hands did marry in 1784 (at a somewhat advanced age), and "On a Wedding" obliquely alludes to her status as a servant: "With all marriage articles pen'd on the heart, | The parties so sweetly agreed; | They needed no lawyer, with quibbling art, | Or parchment to draw up a deed." It was in character for this independent-minded woman to compose her own epithalamium. The volume also contains verses "On the Author's Lying-In," pp. 123-24.



Hark! hark! how the bells ring, how happy the day,
Now Thirsis makes Daphne his bride;
See cheerful birds chirping on ev'ry green spray,
And summer shines forth in its pride.

The lads and the lasses, so jocund and gay,
Their happiness hail with a song;
And Thirsis enchantingly pipes to their lay,
Inspiring with mirth all the throng.

The bride and the bride-groom then join in the dance
And smiling trip nimbly around;
The sprightly gay bride's-maids as nimbly advance,
And answer their smiles with a bound.

With all marriage articles pen'd on the heart,
The parties so sweetly agreed;
They needed no lawyer, with quibbling art,
Or parchment to draw up a deed.

For Love, the first blessing, of blessings below,
That Heaven to mortals can give,
Was all the kind shepherdess had to bestow,
And all that she wish'd to receive.

[p. 85]