“The Charms of Anthony”
YE Swains, attend; let ev’ry Nymph be near;
Be still, ye Rivers, that the Swains may hear:
Ye Winds, be calm, and brush with softer Wing,
We mean the Charms of Anthony to sing;
See all around the list’ning Shepherds throng; 5
O help, ye Sisters of immortal song.
Sing, Phebe, sing what Shepherd rules the Plain,
Young Colin‘s Envy, and Aminda‘s Pain:
Whom none can rival when he mows the Field,
And to whose Flute the Nightingale must yield. 10
‘Tis Anthony — ’tis he deserves the Lay,
As mild as Ev’ning, and as Morning gay;
Not the fresh Blooms on yonder Codling-tree,
Not the white Hawthorn half so fair as he;
Nor the young Daisy dress’d in Morning Dew; 15
Nor the Pea Blossom wears a brighter Hue.
None knows like him to strew the wheaten Grain,
Or drive the Plough-share o’er the fertile Plain;
To raise the Sheaves, or reap the waving Corn,
Or mow brown Stubble in the early Morn. 20
How mild the Youth, when on a sultry Day
In yonder Vale we turn’d the fragrant Hay:
How on his Voice the list’ning Shepherds hung,
Not tuneful Stella half so sweetly sung.
Whether he binds the Sheaf in twisted Band, 25
Or turns the Pitch-fork on his nimble Hand;
He’s sure to win a Glance from ev’ry Eye,
While clumsy Colin stands neglected by.
His curling Locks by far more lovely shew,
Than the white Wig on Squire Fopling‘s Brow; 30
And when the Shepherd on a rainy Day,
Weaves for his Hat a Wisp of flow’ry Hay,
The scarlet Feather not so gay appears,
Which on his Crown Sir Ambrose Fino wears.
For Anthony Meriah leaves her Cow, 35
And stands to gape at him upon the Mow:
While he (for who but must that Wench despise?)
Throws Straws and Cobwebs on her staring Eyes.
To the Back-door I saw proud Lydia hie,
To see the Team with Anthony go by; 40
He slily laugh’d, and turn’d him from the Door,
I thought the Damsel would have spoke no more.
Me once he met, ’twas when from yonder Vale,
Each Morn I brought the heavy milking Pail:
He took it from my Head, and with a Smile 45
Reach’d out his Hand, and help’d me o’er the Stile.
As I was dancing late amongst the Crew,
A yellow Pippin o’er my Head he threw:
Sue bit her Lips, and Barbaretta frown’d;
And Phillis look’d as tho’ she wou’d have swoon’d. 50
Thus sung the Maids till Colinet came by,
And Rodrigo from weeding of the Rye;
Each took his Lass, and sped ’em to the Town,
To drink cool Cider at the Hare and Hound:
The Damsels simper like the sparkling Beer, 55
And Colin shines till Anthony is near.
1 Swain “A country or farm labourer, frequently a shepherd; a country lover”; Nymph “Spirits… taking the form of a maiden inhabiting the sea, rivers, mountains, woods, trees, etc.; a beautiful young woman” (OED).
6 Sisters of immortal song The Muses of Greek mythology: “Each of the nine goddesses regarded as presiding over and inspiring learning and the arts” (OED).
7 Phebe This and other names used in the poem are stereotypical names used in pastoral verse.
10 Nightingale In poetry, a symbol of “melodious song” (OED).
13 Codling-tree A kind of apple tree.
18 Plough-share “The large pointed blade of a plough” (OED).
19 Sheaves “Large bundles in which it is usual to bind cereal plants after reaping” (OED).
30 Fopling Variation of “fop,” “a foolish person; one who is foolishly attentive to and vain of his appearance, dress, or manners” (OED).
36 Mow “A heap of grain or hay in a barn” (OED).
39 hie “Haste, speed” (OED).
46 Stile Steps or rungs allowing “passage over or through a fence, while forming a barrier to the passage of sheep or cattle” (OED).
48 A yellow Pippin o’er my Head he threw A variation on the custom in ancient Greece in which “apples were presented to sweethearts as a proffer or declaration of love…oftentimes apples were tossed or thrown” in this context (McCartney, “How the Apple Became the Token of Love,” p. 70).
54 Hare and Hound A tavern or pub, possibly alluding to a passage in Ovid’s Metamorphoses in which Phoebus and Daphne are figured as hound and hare respectively (Book I, ll. 521-525).
55 simper “To glimmer, shimmer, twinkle” (OED).
Source: Poems Upon Several Occasions (London, 1748), pp. 249-252. [Google Books]
Edited by Angel Johnson