1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On the Death of a Musical Friend. A Pastoral Elegy.

The Works of Peter Pindar, Esqr. in Four Volumes. Volume IV.

Dr. John Wolcot


A pastoral elegy in an octave of anapestic quatrains, an energetic measure that could be unexpectedly pleasing in elegy: "Yes, each scene at his presence was glad, | That so lately with sorrow was rent; | And the voice of the MOURNER so sad | Was lost in the songs of CONTENT." It is unclear whether Lycidas is a real or a fictional personage, though Wolcot would use this measure again in his "A Pastoral Elegy, on the Death of Jackson, the Musical Composer" (1804). Wolcot composed a substantial number of pastoral lyrics in anapestic measure including several songs in this collection I have not transcribed.

This fourth volume of Works was a new publication published to conform with the three-volume edition printed two years earlier. The critics, at least, seem to have tired of Peter by this point, and it seems not to have been reviewed.



How blest were the NYMPHS and the SWAINS,
When LYCIDAS join'd in the song;
The chief, and the pride of the plains,
Who led all the PLEASURES along!

Of late, not a valley was fair,
Not a grove gave a musical sound;
The breeze seem'd a sigh of despair,
And PITY sat mute on the ground.

But NATURE (how sudden the change!)
At the presence of LYCIDAS smil'd—
HEALTH was seen through the valley to range,
And an Eden sprung up from the wild!

The throstle was heard in the shade;
The linnet enliven'd the grove,
And ECHO, long banish'd, sweet MAID,
Return'd with her stories of Love.

Yes, each scene at his presence was glad,
That so lately with sorrow was rent;
And the voice of the MOURNER so sad
Was lost in the songs of CONTENT.

Just able to crawl o'er the style,
And doom'd, ah! to labour no more,
AGE would crawl from his cot with a smile,
And a blessing to leave at his door.

But the SHEPHERD for ever is gone—
Hark! his knell, how it saddens the gale!
Joy dies, and our pastimes are flown:
FATE envies the smiles of our vale.

Now let MIRTH from each hamlet retire
To the reign of silence and gloom:
Sure his death must our sorrow inspire,
Since the VIRTUES will weep at his tomb.

[pp. 360-63]