1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Verses to the Memory of W. Cunningham, the Pastoral Poet.

Diary, or Woodfall's Register (2 December 1789).

Mr. Tyson


Four anapestic quatrains "Dedicated to Sir Matthew White Ridley" and dated "Leeds, Nov. 24, 1789," commemorate the memory of John Cunningham, who with William Shenstone had created the rage for the pastoral ballad. I have not identified Mr. Tyson, who seems to have had some difficulty with Cunningham's name. This poem is part of a series inspired by Cunningham's "Corydon, a Pastoral to the Memory of William Shenstone" (1763).



For a Grace that is truly divine,
Or a thought that is modest and free,
When I count, I would ask the sweet Nine,
For the like they bestow'd upon thee.

If an heir to thy innocent muse,
A tablet to virtue I rear,
But if not, I could never refuse
With my own, to say Cunningham's here.

He play'd on the pastoral reed,
Each Shepherdess danc'd in her turn,
But now does each Shepherdess bleed,
And for that do the Shepherds all mourn.

They say, — "premature was his death,
And fate was for certain unkind,"—
But mourners, ne'er stay could the breath,
That breath'd from so feeling a mind!

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