Tag Archives: country vs. city

Stephen Duck, “On Two Young Ladies leaving the Country”


“On Two Young Ladies leaving the Country”


SAY, lovely Nymphs! who fly from rural Sweets,
To noisy Crowds, thick Air, and smoaky Streets,
Do Balls, or Plays, your graceful Steps invite?
Can Balls, or Plays, like Richmond Groves, delight?
No tuneful PHILOMEL, in Town, complains,                                                            5
To charm your list’ning Ear with vary’d Strains;
No fragrant Gales refresh the sick’ning Fields,
No chearful flow’ry Scenes the City yields:
But Mists, and lambent Fogs, where-e’er you pass,
Shall cloud the Graces, that adorn your Face;                                                         10
While those bright Eyes, like sully’d Gems, appear,
Or Stars, just glimm’ring thro’ the dusky Air.

NOR will you only Change of Beauty find;
Illusive Scenes will mock your pensive Mind:
In cloudless Mornings, when you’ve drank your Tea,                                             15
And read a Page in SHERLOCK, or in —– GAY;
Perhaps your Thoughts, transported, here may rove,
And, to your Mind, present the blissful Grove:
You’ll think to walk by silver Thames’s Shore;
Or trace the verdant Mead, as heretofore:                                                               20
When at the Door, the rural Vision flies,
Smoak, Coaches, Fops, and Carmen meets your Eyes:
Straight back you’ll turn, vex’d with the fruitless Search;
Bid ROBERT call a Chair, and go to Church.


4 Richmond Groves In the early eighteenth century, Richmond upon Thames was still considered a rural retreat from London, offering open spaces, groves of trees, and prospects from Richmond Hill.

5 PHILOMEL “A poetic or literary name for the nightingale (in allusion to the myth of the maiden Philomela’s transformation into that bird)” (OED).

9 lambent “Playing lightly upon or gliding over a surface” (OED).

16 SHERLOCK William Sherlock (c. 1641-1707), Anglican clergyman and religious writer, his A Practical Discourse Concerning Death (1689) went to many editions in the eighteenth century; GAY John Gay (1685-1732), poet and dramatist.

20 verdant Green-hued (OED).

22 Fops Foolish and vain persons, typically applied to men (OED); Carmen “Member of a Company of the City of London concerned with transportation” (OED).

24 ROBERT The Footman [Author’s note]; Chair “An enclosed chair or covered vehicle for one person, carried on poles by two men; a sedan” (OED).

SourcePoems on Several Occasions (London, 1736)pp. 158-59.  [Google Books]

Edited by Clementine Johnson

[Mary Barber], “To a Lady, who invited the Author into the Country”


“To a Lady, who invited the Author into the Country”

HOW gladly, Madam, would I go,
To see your Gardens, and Chateau;
From thence the fine Improvements view,
Or walk your verdant Avenue;
Delighted, hear the Thrushes sing,                                              5
Or listen to some bubbling Spring;
If Fate had giv’n me Leave to roam!
But Citizens must stay at Home.

WE’RE lonesome since you went away,
And should be dead –– but for our Tea;                                     10
That Helicon of female Wits;
Which fills their Heads with rhyming Fits!
This Liquor seldom heats the Brain,
But turns it oft, and makes us vain;
With Fumes supplies Imagination,                                              15
Which we mistake for Inspiration.
This makes us cramp our Sense in Fetters,
And teaze our Friends with chiming Letters.

I GRIEVE your Brother has the Gout;
Tho’ he’s so stoically stout,                                                            20
I’ve heard him mourn his Loss of Pain,
And wish it in his Feet again.
What Woe poor Mortals must endure,
When Anguish is their only Cure!

STREPHON is ill; and I perceive                                                      25
His lov’d Elvira grows so grave,
I fear, like Niobe, her Moan
Will turn herself and me to Stone.
Have I not cause to dread this Fate,
Who scarce so much as smile of late?                                         30

WHILST lovely landscapes you survey,
And peaceful pass your Hours away,
Refresh’d with various blooming Sweets;
I’m sick of Smells and dirty Streets,
Stifled with Smoke, and stunn’d with Noise                               35
Of ev’ry Thing —- but my own Boys;
Thro’ Rounds of plodding doom’d to run,
And very seldom see the Sun:
Yet sometimes pow’rful Fancy reigns,
And glads my Eyes with sylvan Scenes;                                      40
Where Time, enamour’d, slacks his Pace,
Enchanted by the warbling Race;
And, in Atonement for his Stay,
Thro’ Cities hurries on the Day.

O! WOULD kind Heav’n reverse my Fate,                                   45
Give me to quit a Life I hate,
To flow’ry Fields I soon would fly:
Let others stay —- to cheat and lye.
There, in some blissful Solitude,
Where eating Care should ne’er intrude,                                    50
The Muse should do the Country Right,
And paint the glorious Scenes you slight.

Dublin, 1728


2 Chateau A stately residence or estate.

8 Citizens In this context, city-dwellers.

11 Helicon “Name of a mountain once sacred to the Muses from Greek mythology, often used allusively in reference to poetic inspiration” (OED).

17 Fetters “Anything that confines, impedes, or restrains; a check, restraint” (OED).

19 Gout “A specific constitutional disease occurring in fits, usually hereditary and in male subjects; characterized by painful inflammation of the smaller joints” (OED).

25 Strephon Common masculine name used for male lover in pastoral poetry (Encyclopedia Britannica).

26 Elvira A proper feminine name of Germanic origin (Online Dictionary).

27 Niobe “Of ancient Greek origin refers to an inconsolably bereaved woman, a weeping woman” (OED).

40 sylvan Relating to a wood or woods (Johnson).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1735), pp.135-38. [Hathi Trust]

Edited by Ashley-Nicole Cortez