1793
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Linnet and her Young. A Fragment.

Columbian Herald or the Southern Star (30 July 1793).

Q. D. C.


A pastoral song of unusual design, signed "Q. D. C." The poet and his Louisa are walking through the grove when they overhear a linnet singing to her brood: "Thy father is gone to provide you with food, | Be still, my sweet infants, a while, | Hush, the strangers appear, on our haunts they intrude; | You know not what's cunning and guile." After hearing her song, the poet turns to his lover: "Then I look'd at Louisa; she smil'd, 'twas divine; | The big tear it flow'd soft from her eye; | 'Twas pity inspir'd it — I said, Oh! be mine; | But she fear'd to alarm with reply." The poem is modeled on the bird's-nest episode in Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. The Columbian Herald was published in Charleston, South Carolina.



In a grove where the trees were all cover'd with bloom,
One evening in summer I walk'd,
I breath'd the sweet scent of the living perfume,
And tenderly whisper'd and talked.

Louisa was with me, ah! sweet was the scene,
And we rang'd o'er the meadow and hill,
The evening was mild, the sky was serene,
We sat down by the side of a rill.

When thus from a broom, "Oh hush!" we heard, "hush
Be silent my infants, my young,
Be still, little tremblers," was heard from the bush;
'Twas a linnet, and sweet was her tongue.

"Thy father is gone to provide you with food,
Be still, my sweet infants, a while,
Hush, the strangers appear, on our haunts they intrude;
You know not what's cunning and guile.

"Lo! thy father returns, with seed on his wings,
He will feed you, my children so dear:
Well repaid for his toil, if I list while he sings,
And his carols prove sweet to mine ears:

"In April, he said, let us build us a nest,
He sung, and love beam'd in his eye;
I heard the dear charmer, and thought myself blest,
He press'd, and how could I deny.

"To work then we went, well pleas'd and content,
We chose this retreat for our home;
Our days and our nights in sweet love have been spent,
Nor e'er have we wished to roam.

"His smile gives me virtue, my husband, my all,
And he help'd me to hatch my dear young;
More sweet is his voice, more seducing his call,
Than the music of melody's tongue."

Now arriv'd with his store, see him chirp on the spray,
And to chaunt his love tale he began;
We approach'd, and the fair one her fear did betray,
While the male flutter'd, "hush, it is man."

Then I look'd at Louisa; she smil'd, 'twas divine;
The big tear it flow'd soft from her eye;
'Twas pity inspir'd it — I said, Oh! be mine;
But she fear'd to alarm with reply.

Then we left the sweet place, to give ease to the pair,
And I lov'd her the more for her tears.
If you pity these birds, for their love and their care,
Then kindly remove now my fears.

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