« السابقةمتابعة »
While on thy banks Sicilian Muses sing;
Walsh, Mr. Wycherley, G. Granville, afterwards Lord Lansdowne, Sir William Trumbull, Dr. Garth, Lord Halifax, Lord Somers, Mr. Mainwaring, and others. All these gave our author the greatest encouragement, and particularly Mr. Walsh, whom Mr. Dryden, in his Postscript to Virgil, calls the best critic of his age. “The author," says he,“ seems to have a particular genius for this kind of poetry, and a judgment that much exceeds his years. He has taken very freely from the ancients. But what he has mixed of his own with theirs is no way inferior to what he has taken from them. It is not flattery at all to say, that Virgil had written nothing so good at his age. His Preface is very judicious and learned." Letter to Mr. Wycherley, Apr. 1705. The Lord Lansdowne, about the same time, mentioning the youth of our poet, says (in a printed Letter of the Character of Mr. Wycherley), «that if he goes on as he has begun in the pastoral way, as Virgil first tried his strength, we may hope to see English poetry vie with the Roman,” &c. Notwithstanding the early time of their production, the author esteemed these as the most correct in the versification, and musical in the numbers, of all his works. The reason for his labour ing them into so much softness, was, doubtless, that this sort of poetry derives almost its whole beauty from a natural ease of thought and smoothness of verse; whereas that of most other kinds consists in the strength and fulness of both. In a letter of his to Mr. Walsh about this time, we find an enumera tion of several niceties in versification, which, per haps, have never been strictly observed in any English poem, except in these Pastorals. They were not printed till 1709.-P.
O let my Muse her slender reed inspire,
Soon as the flocks shook off the nightly dews, Two swains, whom love kept wakeful and the
Poured o'er the whitening vale their fleecy care, Fresh as the morn, and as the season fair: 20 The dawn now blushing on the mountain's side, Thus Daphnis spoke, and Strephon thus replied.
DAPHNIS. Hear how the birds, on every bloomy spray, With joyous music wake the dawning day! Why sit we mute, when early linnets sing, 25 When warbling Philomel salutes the spring ? Why sit we sad, when Phosphor shines so clear, And lavish Nature paints the purple year ?
STREPHON. Sing then, and Damon shall attend the strain, While yon slow oxen turn the furrowed plain. 30 Here the bright crocus and blue violet glow; Here western winds on breathing roses blow. I'll stake yon lamb, that near the fountain
plays, And from the brink his dancing shade surveys.
DAPHNIS. And I this bowl, where wanton ivy twines, 35 And swelling clusters bend the curling vines :
i The scene of this Pastoral, a valley; the time, the morning.-P.
Four figures rising from the work appear,,
Then sing by turns, by turns the Muses sing, Now hawthorns blossom, now the daisies spring, Now leaves the trees, and flowers adorn the
Begin, the vales shall every note rebound.
STREPHON. Inspire me, Phoebus, in my Delia's praise, 45 With Waller's strains, or Granville's moving
lays ! 3 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, And make my tongue victorious as her eyes : 50
i The subject of these Pastorals, engraven on the bowl, is not without its propriety. The shepherd's hesitation at the name of the zodiac imitates that in Virgil :
"Et quis fuit alter Descripsit radio totum qui gentibus orbem?”—P.
2 Literally from Virgil : “ Alternis dicetis, amant alterna Camoenæ : Et nunc omnis ager, nunc omnis parturit arbos, Nunc frondent sylvæ, nunc formosissimus annus.”—P.
3 George Granville, afterwards Lord Lansdowne, known for his poems, most of which he composed very young, and proposed Waller as his model. -P. 4 Virg. :
" Pascite taurum, Qui cornu petat, et pedibus jam spargat arenam.”—P.
No lambs or sheep for victims I'll impart,
STREPHON. Me gentle Delia beckons from the plain, Then hid in shades, eludes her eager swain; But feigns a laugh, to see me search around, 55 And by that laugh the willing fair is found.
DAPHNIS. The sprightly Sylvia trips along the green, She runs, but hopes she does not run unseen; While a kind glance at her pursuer flies, How much at variance are her feet and eyes ! 60
STREPHON. 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.
DAPHNIS. Celestial Venus haunts Idalia's groves ; 65 Diana Cynthus, Ceres Hybla loves, If Windsor-shades delight the matchless maid, Cynthus and Hybla yield to Windsor-shade.
STREPHON. All Nature mourns, the skies relent in
showers, 1 Imitation of Virgil : “Malo me Galatea petit, lasciva puella, Et fugit ad salices, et se cupit ante videri.”-P.
2 Virg. : " Aret ager, vitio moriens sitit aëris herba, &c. Phyllidis adventu nostræ nemus omne virebit.”—P.
Hushed are the birds, and closed the drooping
flowers; If Delia smile, the flowers begin to spring, The skies to brighten, and the birds to sing.
DAPHNIS. All Nature laughs, the groves are fresh and
fair, The sun's mild lustre warms the vital air; If Sylvia smiles, new glories gild the shore, 75 And vanquished Nature seems to charm no
STREPHON. 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.
DAPHNIS. Sylvia's like autumn ripe, yet mild as May, 81 More bright than noon, yet fresh as early day; Ev'n spring displeases, when she shines not
here; But blessed with her, 'tis spring throughout the year.
STREPHON. Say, Daphnis, say, in what glad soil ap
pears, 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.
i An allusion to the Royal Oak, in which Charles II. had been hid from the pursuit after the battle of Worcester.-P.