1776
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Banks of the Wye.

Euphrosyne: or, Amusements on the Road of Life. By the Author of The Spiritual Quixote.

Rev. Richard Graves


A pastoral ballad in five double quatrain stanzas. This lyric by Richard Graves makes explicit an important subtext in the genre, the celebration of provincial life by provincial poets: "Tho' Britain boasts many a stream | That her Poets with verse can inspire: | Tho' the Thames has so long been the theme | Of each Cockney that tunes up his lyre. | Let their Banks be by others possest, | From the world whilst sequester'd I fly, | And live in a cottage more blest | On my favourite Banks of the Wye" p. 224. Euprhosyne consists of a large number of small poems in a variety of genres; a second volume was published in 1780. While the poet was sixty years of age in 1776, his prolific publishing career was just getting underway.

Critical Review: "This volume contains a collection of poetical pieces, partly original, written by different authors, and ranged under the following heads, viz. On various Subjects, Sarcastic, Encomiastic, Paraphrastic, Amorous, Humourous, and Moral. In general, the compositions bear the marks of accuracy, and many of them are distinguished by more conspicuous signatures of poetical merit" 42 (July 1776) 73.

Town and Country Magazine: "A collection of poems (some original) on various subjects; some of which have a considerable share of merit" 8 (September 1776) 491.



Tho' I've rambled all Europe around,
Would the Fates with my wishes comply,
I would scorn even Classical ground,
And fix on the Banks of the Wye.
There the earth does its blessings profuse,
Unassisted, at Nature's command,
Each object for pleasure and use,
Spread forth with a liberal hand.

Let fops, who come Frenchified home,
To the vulgar with raptures explain
The wonders of Paris or Rome,
On the Banks of the Tiber and Seine.
Nor the Seine, nor the Tiber — nor Po,
Nor the Arno itself can supply,
Nor a stream in the world that I know,
Such charms as the Banks of the Wye.

Tell me not of the Danube or Rhine
Or the Volga that kingdoms divide:
What care I for their cities so fine,
Or the vineyards that cover their side?
Long flourish their wealth and their trade!
Shall I envy their splendor? Not I;
Whilst at ease I'm ingloriously laid
On the flowery Banks of the Wye.

Let Scotchmen in sonnets display
How their Shepherds so happily feed
Their flocks on the sweet-winding Tay,
Or the pleasanter Banks of the Tweed.
Their beauties may doubtless be great;
But surely they never can vie
With the woods, rocks, and meadows so sweet,
That vary the Banks of the Wye.

Tho' Britain boasts many a stream
That her Poets with verse can inspire:
Tho' the Thames has so long been the theme
Of each Cockney that tunes up his lyre.
Let their Banks be by others possest,
From the world whilst sequester'd I fly,
And live in a cottage more blest
On my favourite Banks of the Wye.

[pp. 222-24]