Tag Archives: alexandrines

Michael Bruce, “Pastoral Song”

 

MICHAEL BRUCE

 Pastoral Song

To the tune of the Yellow-haird Laddie.

 In May, when the gowans appear on the green,
And flow’rs in the field and the forest are seen;
Where lilies bloom’d bonny, and hawthorns unsprung
The yellow-hair’d laddie oft whistled and sung.

II.

But neither the shades, nor the sweets of the flow’rs,                              5
Nor the blackbirds that warbled on blossoming bow’rs,
Could pleasure his eye, or his ear entertain;
For love was his pleasure, and love was his pain.

III.

The shepherd thus sung, while his flocks all around
Drew nearer and nearer, and sigh’d to the sound:                                           10
Around, as in chains, lay the beasts of the wood,
With pity disarmed, and music subdu’d.

IV.

Young Jessy is fair as the spring’s early flower,
And Mary sings sweet as the bird in her bower:
But Peggy is fairer and sweeter than they;                                                        15
With looks like the morning, with smiles like the day.

V.

In the flower of her youth, in the bloom of eighteen,
Of virtue the goddess, of beauty the queen:
One hour in her presence an aera excels
Amid courts, where ambition with misery dwells.                                            20

VI.

Fair to the shepherd the new-springing flow’rs,
When May and when morning lead on the gay hours;
But Peggy is brighter and fairer than they;
She’s fair as the morning, and lovely as May.

VII.

Sweet to the shepherd the wild woodland found,                                   25
When larks sing above him, and lambs bleat around;
But Peggy far sweeter can speak and can sing,
Than the notes of the warblers that welcome spring.

VIII.

When in beauty she moves by the brook of the plain,
You would call her a Venus new sprung from the main:                                30
When she sings, and the woods with their echoes reply,
You would think than an angel was warbling on high.

IX.

Ye Pow’rs that preside over mortal estate!
Whose nod ruleth Nature, whose pleasure is Fate,
O grant me, O grant me the heav’n of her charms!                                         35
May I live in her presence, and die in her arms!

NOTES:

Title Laddie A term of endearment for a young male in the eighteenth century. (OED)

1 gowans A general term for white or yellow flowers (OED).

3 bonny “From a Yorkshire dialect meaning “pretty” (Grose); hawthorn A thorny bush or small tree (OED).

6 warbled To sing softly (OED), bowrs   Shady place within the trees (OED).

14 bower A young ladies room or cabin (OED).

19 aera Archaic form for “era” (OED).

26 lark General term for a bird (OED); bleat The crying of a lamb or goat (OED).

30 Venus Roman goddess of love and beauty (OED).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1770), pp. 14-17. [Google Books]

 Edited by Christopher Lara

Elizabeth Carter, “A Dialogue”

ELIZABETH CARTER

“A Dialogue”

 Says Body to Mind, ’Tis amazing to see,
We’re so nearly related yet never agree,
But lead a most wrangling strange Sort of a Life,
As great Plagues to each other as Husband and Wife.
The Fault is all your’s, who with flagrant Oppression,                                    5
Encroach ev’ry Day on my lawful Possession.
The best Room in my House you have seiz’d for your own,
And turn’d the whole Tenement quite upside down,
While you hourly call in a disorderly Crew
Of vagabond Rogues, who have nothing to do                                               10
But to run in and out, hurry scurry, and keep
Such a horrible uproar, I can’t get to sleep.
There’s my kitchen sometimes is as empty as Sound,
I call for my Servants, not one’s to be found:
They all are sent out on your Ladyship’s Errand,                                             15
To fetch some more riotous Guests in, I warrant!
And since Things are growing, I see, worse and worse,
I’m determined to force you to alter your Course.
Poor Mind, who hear all with extreme Moderation,
Thought it now Time to speak, and make her Allegation.                              20
‘Tis I, that, methinks, have most Cause to complain,
Who am crampt and confin’d like a Slave in a Chain.
I did but step out, on some weighty Affairs,
To visit, last Night, my good Friends in the Stars.
When, before I was got half as high as the Moon,                                           25
You dispatch’d Pain and Languor to hurry me down;
Vi & Armis they seiz’d me, in Midst of my Flight.
And shut me in Caverns as dark as the Night.
‘Twas no more, reply’d Body, than what you deserv’d,
While you rambled Abroad, I at Home was half starv’d:                                30
And, unless I had closely confin’d you in Hold,
You had left me to perish with Hunger and Cold.
I’ve a Friend, answers Mind, who, tho slow, is yet fare,
And will rid me, at last, of your insolent Power:
Will knock down at your Mud Walls, the whole Fabric demolishes,             35
And at once your strong Holds and my Slav’ry abolish:
And while in the Dust your dull Ruins decay,
I shall snap off my Chains, and fly freely away.

NOTES:

 27 Vi & Armis “With force and arms. Words used in [legal] indictments, etc. to express the charge of a forcible and violent committing any crime or trespass” (T. E. Tomlins, The Law-dictionary, vol. VI [1811], p. 351 [Google Books]).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions, 3rd edition (London, 1776), pp. 25-27. [Google Books]

Edited by Julia Ruiz

William Hayley, “A Charm for Ennui: A Matrimonial Ballad”

[WILLIAM HAYLEY, ESQ.]

 “A CHARM FOR ENNUI: A Matrimonial Ballad”

 Ye couples, who meet under Love’s smiling star,
Too gentle to skirmish, too soft e’er to jar,
Tho’ cover’d with roses from joy’s richest tree,
Near the couch of delight lurks the daemon Ennui.

Let the Muses’ gay lyre, like Ithuriel’s bright spear,                                          5
Keep this fiend, ye sweet brides, from approaching your ear;
Since you know the squat toad’s infernal esprit,
Never listen, like Eve, to the devil Ennui.

Let no gloom of your hall, no shade of your bower,
Make you think you behold this malevolent power;                                        10
Like a child in the dark, what you fear you will see;
Take courage, away flies the phantom Ennui.

O trust me, the powers both of person and mind
To defeat this sly foe full sufficient you’ll find;
Should your eyes fail to kill him, with keen repartee                                       15
You can sink the flat boat of th’invader Ennui.

If a cool non-chalance o’er your sposo should spread,
For vapours will rise e’en on Jupiter’s head,
O ever believe it, from jealousy free,
A thin passing cloud, not the fog of Ennui.                                                          20

Of tender complainings though love be the theme,
O beware, my sweet friends, ’tis a dangerous scheme;
And tho’ often ‘tis try’d, mark the pauvre mari
Thus by kindness inclos’d in the coop of Ennui.

Let confidence, rising such meanness above,                                                   25
Drown the discord of doubt in the music of love;
Your duette shall thus charm in the natural key,
No sharps from vexation, no flats from Ennui.

But to you, happy husbands, in matters more nice,
The Muse, tho’ a maiden, now offers advice;                                                    30
O drink not too keenly your bumper of glee,
Ev’n ecstasy’s cup has some dregs of Ennui.

Though Love for your lips fill with nectar his bowl,
Though his warm bath of blessings inspirit your soul,
O swim not too far on rapture’s high sea,                                                          35
Lest you sink unawares in the gulph of Ennui.                          

Impatient of law, Passion oft will reply,
“Against limitations I’ll plead till I die;”
But Chief Justice Nature rejects the vain plea,
And such culprits are doom’d to the gaol of Ennui.                                           40

When husband and wife are of honey too fond,
They’re like poison’d carp at the top of a pond,
Together they gape o’er a cold dish of tea,
Two muddy sick fish in the net of Ennui.

Of indolence most ye mild couples beware,                                                     45
For the myrtles of Love often hide her soft snare;
The fond doves in their net from his pounce cannot flee,
But the lark in the morn ’scapes the daemon Ennui.

Let chearful good-humour, that sun-shine of life,
With smiles in the maiden, illumine the wife,                                                   50
And mutual attention, in equal degree,
Keep Hymen’s bright chain from the rust of Ennui.

To the Graces together O fail not to bend,
And both to the voice of the Muses attend,
So Minerva for you shall with Cupid agree,                                                       55
And preserve your chaste flame from the smoke of Ennui.                 

NOTES:

 5 Ithuriel’s bright spear From John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667). The Angel Ithuriel touches Satan (disguised as a toad) with his spear “which ‘no falsehood can endure,'” and his true form thus revealed, Satan is cast out of the Garden of Eden (Oxford Dictionary of Reference and Allusion).

7 esprit Spirit.

17 sposo Spouse.

18 Jupiter Roman god of sky and thunder. Leader of the Roman gods.

23 pauvre mari Poor husband. (Oxford French-English Dictionary).

27 duette Duet.

40 gaol Jail.

52 Hymen Greek god of marriage.

55 Minerva Roman goddess of wisdom.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 53 (April 1783), pp. 693-94.

 Edited by Megan Kwong

Janet Little, “From Snipe, a favourite Dog, to his Master”

JANET LITTLE

“From Snipe, a favourite Dog, to his Master”

O best of good masters, your mild disposition
Perhaps may induce you to read my petition:
Believe me in earnest, though acting the poet,
My breast feels the smart, and mine actions do shew it.
At morn when I rise, I go down to the kitchen,                       5
Where oft I’ve been treated with kicking and switching.
There’s nothing but quiet, no toil nor vexation,
The cookmaid herself seems possess’d of discretion.
The scene gave surprise, and I could not but love it,
Then found ’twas because she had nothing to covet.               10
From thence to the dining-room I took a range sir,
My heart swells with grief when I think of the change there;
No dishes well dress’d, with their flavour to charm me,
Nor even so much as a fire to warm me.
For bread I ransack ev’ry corner with caution,                            15
Then trip down the stair in a terrible passion.
I go with old James, when the soss is a dealing,
But brutes are voracious and void of all feeling;
They quickly devour’t: not a morsel they leave me,
And then by their growling ill nature they grieve me.                 20
My friend Jenny Little pretends to respect me,
And yet sir at meal-time she often neglects me:
Of late she her breakfast with me would have parted,
But now eats it all, so I’m quite broken hearted.
O haste back to Loudoun, my gentle good master,                    25
Relieve your poor Snipy from ev’ry disaster.
A sight of yourself would afford me much pleasure,
A share of your dinner an excellent treasure,
Present my best wishes unto the good lady,
Whose plate and potatoes to me are ay ready:                           30
When puss and I feasted so kindly together;
But now quite forlorn we condole with each other.
No more I’ll insist, lest your patience be ended;
I beg by my scrawl, sir, you’ll not be offended;
But mind, when you see me ascending Parnassus,                    35
The need that’s of dogs there to drive down the Asses.

NOTES:

17 soss A sloppy mess or mixture; a dish of food having this character (OED).

25 Loudoun A castle where Little was employed by Frances Dunlop and took charge of dairy, a position that offered financial stability and the means to publish her volume of poems, with the help of her patron.

31 puss A conventional proper or pet name for a cat, freq. (sometimes reduplicated) used as a call to attract its attention (OED).

35 Parnassus A mountain in Greece that, according to Greek mythology, was sacred to the several gods and serves as a metaphor for the the home of poetry, literature, and by extension, learning.

36 The need that’s of dogs there to drive down the Asses Allusion to Robert Burns’s “Epistle to J. L*****k, An Old Scotch Bard” (ll. 67-72).

Source:  Janet Little, The Poetical Works of Janet Little, the Scotch Milkmaid (Air, 1792). [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Kent Congdon