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and aspects. Yet the scrupulous division of his pastorals into months, has obliged him either to repeat the same description in other words, for three months together; or, when it was exhausted before, entirely to omit it: whence it comes to pass, that some of his eclogues (as the sixth, eighth, and tenth, for example) have nothing but their titles to distinguish them. The reason is evident, because the year has not that variety in it to furnish every month with a particular description, as it may every
Of the following eclogues I shall only say, that these four comprehend all the subjects which the critics upon Theocritus and Virgil will allow to be fit for pastoral: that they have as much variety of description, in respect of the several seasons, as Spenser's: that, in order to add to this variety, the several times of the day are observed, the rural employments in each season or time of day, and the rural scenes or places proper to such employments; not without some regard to the several ages of man, and the different passions proper to each age.
But after all, if they have any merit, it is to be attributed to some good old authors, whose works as I had leisure to study, so, I hope, I have not wanted care to imitate.
THE FIRST PASTORAL, OR DAMON.
To Sir William Trumbull.
FIRST in these fields I try the sylvan strains,
Nor blush to sport on Windsor's blissful plains: Fair Thames, flow gently from thy sacred spring, While on thy banks Sicilian muses sing; Let vernal airs through trembling osiers play, And Albion's cliffs resound the rural lay.
You that, too wise for pride, too good for
Soon as the flocks shook off the nightly dews,
Hear how the birds, on every bloomy spray,
Why sit we mute, when early linnets sing,
Sing then, and Damon shall attend the strain,
And I this bowl, where wanton ivy twines,
Then sing by turns, by turns the muses sing; Now hawthorns blossom, now the daisies spring, Now leaves the trees, and flowers adorn the ground; Begin, the vales shall every note rebound.
Inspire me, Phœbus, in my Delia's praise, With Waller's strains, or Granville's moving lays! A milk-white bull shall at your altars stand, That threats a fight, and spurns the rising sand.
O Love! for Sylvia let me gain the prize,
Me gentle Delia beckons from the plain, Then, hid in shades, eludes her eager swain;
But feigns a laugh, to see me search around,
The sprightly Sylvia trips along the green,
O'er golden sands let rich Pactolus flow, And trees weep amber on the banks of Po; Blest Thames's shores the brightest beauties yield, Feed here, my lambs, I'll seek no distant field.
Celestial Venus haunts Idalia's groves;
If Windsor shades delight the matchless maid,
All nature mourns, the skies relent in showers, Hush'd are the birds, and clos'd the drooping flowers; If Delia smile, the flowers begin to spring, The skies to brighten, and the birds to sing.
All nature laughs, the groves are fresh and fair, The sun's mild lustre warms the vital air;
If Sylvia smile, new glories gild the shore,
In spring the fields, in autumn hills I love, At morn the plains, at noon the shady grove, But Delia always; absent from her sight,
Nor plains at morn, nor groves at noon delight.
Sylvia's like autumn ripe, yet mild as May, More bright than noon, yet fresh as early day:
Ev'n spring displeases, when she shines not here; But, bless'd with her, 'tis spring throughout the year.
Say, Daphnis, say, in what glad soil appears, A wondrous tree that sacred monarchs bears: Tell me but this, and I'll disclaim the prize, And give the conquest to thy Sylvia's eyes.
Nay, tell me first, in what more happy fields
Cease to contend; for, Daphnis, I decree,
Blest swains, whose nymphs in every grace excel;
THE SECOND PASTORAL, OR ALEXIS.
To Dr. Garth.
A SHEPHERD's boy (he seeks no better name) Led forth his flocks along the silver Thame, Where dancing sun-beams on the waters play'd, And verdant alders form'd a quivering shade.