“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).
Source: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1736), pp. 158-59. [Google Books]
Edited by Clementine Johnson