1787
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Myrtle and Bramble. A Fable.

General Evening Post (23 June1787).

Henry James Pye


An arboreal fable in nine octosyllabic quatrains. This contribution to the series imitating the fable in Spenser's Februarie is signed "Mr. Pye." This amusing piece of society verse takes up the theme of youth versus age in the character of a jealous bramble: "Full oft to blast each hated charm | She call'd the fiery bolts of Jove; | But Jove was too polite to harm | Aught sacred to the Queen of Love." Henry James Pye would be named poet laureate in 1790; while his odes were held up to ridicule he had the social skills requisite for a good courtier. The poem is presented as "For the General Evening Post."



Luxuriant with perennial green
A Myrtle young and lovely stood,
Sole beauty of the wintry scene,
The fairest daughter of the wood:

Close by her side a Bramble grew,
Like other Brambles rude with thorn,
Who sicken'd at the pleasing view,
Yet what she envied seem'd to scorn:

Full oft to blast each hated charm
She call'd the fiery bolts of Jove;
But Jove was too polite to harm
Aught sacred to the Queen of Love.

Yet was her rage not wholly cross'd,
Boreas was to her wishes kind,
And from his magazines of frost
He summon'd forth the keenest wind.

A thousand clouds surcharg'd with rain
The ruffian god around him calls;
Then blows intense, and o'er the plain
A fleecy deluge instant falls.

No more the Myrtle bears the belle,
No more her leaves luxuriant shew;
The thorny Bramble looks as well,
Powder'd, and perriwig'd with snow.

Sure some grey antiquated maid,
The very Bramble of her sex,
To each invidious power has pray'd,
Our eyes and senses to perplex.

Fashion with more than Boreas's rage
A universal snow has shed,
And given the hoary tint of age
To every lovely female's head.

O break thy rival's hated spell,
Kind Nature! that where'er we ramble,
Thy work from Courtol's we may tell,
And know a Myrtle from a Bramble.

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