1803
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Solicitude.

Alexandria Advertiser and Commercial Intelligencer (16 June 1803).

Mira


A pastoral eclogue on the subject of friendship in 28 anapestic quatrains signed "Mira, Alex. June 14." The poet was a regular contributor to this Virginia newspaper. Henry offers encouragement to the despondent Strephon: "I would sooner my Strephon, be thee, | And watch with thy handful of sheep, | Than proud and unfeeling to be, | On a couch of soft velvet to sleep." Strephon, it seems, has been neglected of late by his wealthy friend Rupert: "I weep — but ah me, if he knew, | How dear were his comforts to me, | My sheep would not stray from my view, | Not their shepherd complaining to thee!" Henry explains that it is but the way of the world, and Strephon is unhappily resigned to the loss of friendship: "Come, Henry, and reach me my crook, | I will not a phantom pursue, | Since Hope has so cruel forsook, | From to day I will bid her adieu." It appears from a poem published 22 June that Mira was alluding to a transaction among her acquaintances.



HENRY.
Why, Strephon, when nature is gay,
So pensive reclin'd on the ground?
And why is the crook thrown away,
While thy flocks are all wand'ring around?
Thy sorrow ere long will consign,
Thy form to the cold, dreary tomb;
Forgive, if I cannot divine,
Why the features are cover'd with gloom.

True, much may imbitter our days,
If we do not to wisdom attend,
But if we abide in her ways,
Our hearts will our actions commend;
And then tho' the world may appear,
As willing to treat with disdain;
Unaw'd we may smile thro' a tear,
And pity their wish to give pain.

Tho' fortune regards with a frown,
She cannot give source to thy woes;
Too futile by far, to cast down,
The heart where humility grows;
And what is this world but a vale,
No wise man would wish his abode?
Tho' blown by prosperity's gale,
We faint, and we die on the road.

How silly, 'twould be for to sigh,
For baubles so soon left behind;
For 'tis not in wealth to supply,
To give the most elegant mind;
I've seen them in silver'd brocade,
Who nought of the jewel possess'd;
While others in poverty's shade,
Has with it most amply been blest.

And, I'd sooner be Henry the swain,
Possess'd of that treasure alone,
Than sport a rich liv'ry and train,
To rule as a King on a throne.

I would sooner my Strephon, be thee,
And watch with thy handful of sheep,
Than proud and unfeeling to be,
On a couch of soft velvet to sleep.
Come banish, dear Strephon, this gloom,
Thou'rt equal I trust to the part;
Thy cheerfulness thou can'st assume,
O let it arise from the heart!

STREPHON.
Nay, Henry, 'tis pleasant I know,
To speak when the heart is at rest,
And those not familiar with woe,
But seldom feel for the distress'd;
No frowns of the world do I mourn,
With it's smiles, I have nothing to do,
And should meet an ungen'rous return,
If I for it's favors should sue.

Ungen'rous ah me! did I say?
The thought alone tortures my heart,
Go Henry, dear Henry, away,
Nor bear in my sorrows a part!
The heart can experience I find,
A pleasure the moment it achs,
By knowing the pangs of the mind,
No friend sympathysing partakes.

Yet, what could I've done to offend?
I ask, but I never shall know—
I could not have injur'd a friend,
Who never did injure a foe!
Yet Rupert whose flocks I have kept,
While my own has been wand'ring astray,
When careless or weary he slept,
In summers long sultry day—

Now looks with an air of disdain,
On the friend that he smil'd on before,
But oh if he knew but my pain,
I am sure he would do so no more!
I weep — but ah me, if he knew,
How dear were his comforts to me,
My sheep would not stray from my view,
Not their shepherd complaining to thee!

For the youth, is as mild as the breeze,
That wakes us at dawn of the day,
By fanning the sycamore trees,
And gentle as lambkins at play.
Tho' my sheep have so little a range,
While he has rich droves to secure,
That cannot have wrought the sad change,
The thought would be death to endure!

Oh no! I will not wrong the heart,
That nature had meant should despise,
The tinsel, the gewgaws of art,
Which the world does so generally prize;
Should the stamp be eras'd from his breast,
That heaven engrav'd at his birth,
Unmov'd he might view the distress'd,
Or trample on indigent worth.

HENRY.
Dear Strephon, but little you know,
Of the ways of the world it should seem,
The poor may not meet with a foe,
But merely of friendship they dream.
The object that some can affect,
To treat with a smile when they please,
Meets as oft with a look of neglect,
Which the happy can give at their ease.

STREPHON.
Yet, Henry, I feel there's a tie,
Which binds me to Rupert and thee,
For either, methinks, I could die,
Tho' neither should sorrow for me!

HENRY.
For an object, intwin'd round the heart,
The bosom that's gen'rous might bleed,
But sure it would puzzle thy art,
To find one deserving the deed.

STREPHON.
Come, Henry, and reach me my crook,
I will not a phantom pursue,
Since Hope has so cruel forsook,
From to day I will bid her adieu.

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