1778
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Essay on the Death of Thomas Augustus Arne, Doctor of Music.

General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer (12 March 1778).

Anonymous


An elegy for composer Thomas Arne (1710-1778) in seven anapestic quatrains, not signed. The poem is in the pastoral ballad mode inspired by John Cunningham's "Corydon, a Pastoral to the Memory of William Shenstone": "Such, swains, you all know, were his lays, | So sweet was his pastoral verse; | Then come ye — and crown him with bays, | And weep — as ye follow his hearse." A note identifies the Phoebe of the fourth quatrain: "The late Mrs. Cibber was sister to the Doctor." Arne had set texts by a number of English poets, among them Shakespeare, Addison, Fielding, and Thomson.



Did ever the lute with a movement more sweet,
Give the heart a suffusion of bliss;
Than when Echo, he wak'd in her cavern'd retreat,
And Love, in her woodland recess.

With his pipe, on the upland, the shepherd would stray,
When the birds hover'd round him in throng;
They listen'd — they caught — and they copy'd his lay,
And, in concert, rewarbled his song.

While the nymphs and the swains would enamour'd appear,
All deck'd in the garlands of May;
And circling his brows with the pride of the year,
They'd dance while he chaunted the lay.

Around the gay pole choral Pleasure was seen
In mazes delightful to move;
While Phoebe, his sister, was chosen their Queen,
Sweet Phoebe — the daughter of Love.

What shepherd, like Colin, could warble the strain,
What nymph like to Phoebe could sing;
A pair half so gentle ne'er dwelt on the plain,
Or hail'd the return of the Spring.

Of all the soft sonnets that Melody knows,
Not one can with Colin's be sung;
The note — like the Zephyr that plays on the rose,
Sweet wanton'd the vallies among.

Such, swains, you all know, were his lays,
So sweet was his pastoral verse;
Then come ye — and crown him with bays,
And weep — as ye follow his hearse.

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