1773
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Elegy.

General Evening Post (4 September 1773).

J. H.


Sixteen anapestic quatrains signed "J. H." Phillida is dead, and after recalling the history of their courtship Strephon resolves to retreat to the remote woods: "There, there I'll Death's summons await; | Till then my hard fate I'll deplore; | My sorrows I'll oft-times relate, | Till life shall me trouble no more." This is somewhat unusual fare for the General Evening Post, where the poetry column inclined more to theatrical prologues and political squibs.



Ah me! — my dear Phillida's dead!—
Then fell she best nymph of the green:
From Strephon all pleasure is fled,
No hope of contentment is seen.

Oh! was she not lovely and fair?
As chaste as the pure turtle dove?
Her beauty, each swain would declare,
Was more than return for my love.

My heart she alone did possess;
The loss of her causes my grief:
How great then must be my distress!
O Death! come and give me relief.—

No longer we seek a retreat
From hot piercing rays of the sun;
Nor vows, we've so oft made, repeat,
As first when our loves were begun.

No more on my neck will she lean
To hear my fond story, with bliss;
And, lock'd in her arms, as I've been,
Will pay me with many a kiss.

Nor yet will I play on the flute,
The ears of my charmer to please:
From now it will ever be mute;
All mirth for poor Strephon does cease.

Nor more shall the flocks round her feed,
Or lambkins delight her with play;
Now careless they rove o'er the mead,
For want of their ruler they stray.

Nor again at the fair or the wake
Together shall spend a whole day;
Or feast there with ale and with cake,
Or join other lovers in play.—

Ah! now it comes fresh to my mind,
The time when I first saw my dear;
To love her I seem'd first inclin'd,
How much I was troubled with fear,

Lest by her I should be deny'd,
And fondness be deemed a crime;
But when to my love she'd comply'd,
Was robb'd of her just in her prime.

Ye virgins who e'er were in love,
Think what now oppresses my heart;
Sure more than e'er mortal did prove,
Oh! I cannot indure the smart.

Then farewell, sweet grove and lov'd plain!
My Phillida's constant resort;
Where each nymph, with her am'rous swain,
Pass their time in innocent sport.

For she's gone, and I am forlorn,
No home or no happiness have;
My soul is with bitterness torn,
My life I no longer do crave.

The rest of my days I'll devote
To mourn for the loss of my Queen;
And hide in the woods most remote,
Where nought of the day's to be seen.

There, there I'll Death's summons await;
Till then my hard fate I'll deplore;
My sorrows I'll oft-times relate,
Till life shall me trouble no more.

Then guard me, ye angels divine!
To where the sweet maiden's at rest;
Then fondly again we will join,
And both will for ever be blest.

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