[Page 166]

THE TEARS of OLD MAY-DAY.

1 LED by the jocund train of vernal hours
2 And vernal airs, uprose the gentle May;
3 Blushing she rose, and blushing rose the flow'rs
4 That sprung spontaneous in the genial ray.
5 Her locks with heav'n's ambrosial dews were bright,
6 And am'rous zephyrs flutter'd on her breast:
7 With ev'ry shifting gleam of morning light
8 The colours shifted of her rainbow vest.
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9 Imperial ensigns grac'd her smiling form,
10 A golden key, and golden wand she bore;
11 This charms to peace each sullen eastern storm,
12 And that unlocks the Summer's copious store.
13 Onward in conscious majesty she came,
14 The grateful honours of mankind to taste;
15 To gather fairest wreaths of future fame,
16 And blend fresh triumphs with her glories past.
17 Vain hope! no more in choral bands unite
18 Her virgin vot'ries, and at early dawn,
19 Sacred to May and Love's mysterious rite,
20 Brush the light dew-drops
a Alluding to the country custom of gathering May-dew.
from the spangled lawn.
21 To her no more Augusta's
b The plate garlands of London.
wealthy pride
22 Pours the full tribute from Potosi's mine;
23 Nor fresh-blown garlands village maids provide,
24 A purer off'ring, at her rustic shrine.
25 No more the Maypole's verdant height around
26 To Valour's games th' ambitious youth advance:
27 No merry bells and tabors' sprightlier sound
28 Wake the loud carol, and the sportive dance.
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29 Sudden in pensive sadness droop'd her head,
30 Faint on her cheeks the blushing crimson dy'd
31 "O! chaste victorious triumphs, whither fled?
32 "My maiden honours, whither gone? "she cry'd.
33 Ah! once to fame and bright dominion born,
34 The Earth and smiling Ocean saw me rise,
35 With time coeval and the star of morn,
36 The first, the fairest daughter of the skies.
37 Then, when at heav'n's prolific mandate sprung
38 The radiant beam of new-created day,
39 Celestial harps, to airs of triumph strung,
40 Hail'd the glad dawn, and angels call'd me MAY.
41 Space in her empty regions heard the sound,
42 And hills, and dales, and rocks, and vallies rung;
43 The sun exulted in his glorious round,
44 And shouting planets in their courses sung.
45 For ever then I led the constant year;
46 Saw Youth, and Joy, and Love's enchanting wiles;
47 Saw the mild Graces in my train appear,
48 And infant Beauty brighten in my smiles.
49 No Winter frown'd. In sweet embrace ally'd,
50 Three sister Seasons danc'd th' eternal green;
51 And Spring's retiring softness gently vy'd
52 With Autumn's blush, and Summer's lofty mien.
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53 Too soon, when man prophan'd the blessings giv'n,
54 And Vengeance arm'd to blot a guilty age,
55 With bright Astrea to my native heav'n
56 I fled, and flying saw the Deluge rage:
57 Saw bursting clouds eclipse the noontide beams,
58 While sounding billows from the mountains roll'd,
59 With bitter waves polluting all my streams,
60 My nectar'd streams, that flow'd on sands of gold.
61 Then vanquish'd many a sea-girt isle and grove,
62 Their forests floating on the wat'ry plain:
63 Then, fam'd for arts and laws deriv'd from Jove,
64 My Atalantis
c See Plato.
sunk beneath the main.
65 No longer bloom'd primeval Eden's bow'rs,
66 Nor guardian dragons watch'd the Hesperian steep:
67 With all their fountains, fragrant fruits and flow'rs,
68 Torn from the continent to glut the deep.
69 No more to dwell in sylvan scenes I deign'd,
70 Yet oft descending to the languid earth,
71 With quick'ning pow'rs the fainting mass sustain'd,
72 And wak'd her slumb'ring atoms into birth.
73 And ev'ry echo caught my raptur'd name,
74 And ev'ry virgin breath'd her am'rous vows,
75 And precious wreaths of rich immortal fame,
76 Show'r'd by the Muses, crown'd my lofty brows.
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77 But chief in Europe, and in Europe's pride,
78 My Albion's favour'd realms, I rose ador'd;
79 And pour'd my wealth to other climes deny'd,
80 From Amalthea's horn with plenty stor'd.
81 Ah me! for now a younger rival claims
82 My ravish'd honours, and to her belong
83 My choral dances, and victorious games,
84 To her my garlands and triumphal song.
85 O say what yet untasted bounties flow,
86 What purer joys await her gentler reign?
87 Do lillies fairer, vi'lets sweeter blow?
88 And warbles Philomel a softer strain?
89 Do morning suns in ruddier glory rise?
90 Does ev'ning fan her with serener gales?
91 Do clouds drop fatness from the wealthier skies?
92 Or wantons Plenty in her happier vales?
93 Ah! no: the blunted beams of dawning light
94 Skirt the pale orient with uncertain day;
95 And Cynthia, riding on the car of night,
96 Thro' clouds embattled faintly wins her way.
97 Pale, immature, the blighted verdure springs,
98 Nor mounting juices feed the swelling flow'r;
99 Mute all the groves, nor Philomela sings
100 When Silence listens at the midnight hour.
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101 Nor wonder, man, that Nature's bashful face,
102 And op'ning charms her rude embraces fear:
103 Is she not sprung of April's wayward race,
104 The sickly daughter of th' unripen'd year?
105 With show'rs and sunshine in her fickle eyes,
106 With hollow smiles proclaiming treach'rous peace;
107 With blushes, harb'ring in their thin disguise
108 The blast that riots on the Spring's increase.
109 Is this the fair invested with my spoil
110 By Europe's laws, and Senates' stern command?
111 Ungen'rous Europe, let me fly thy soil,
112 And waft my treasures to a grateful land:
113 Again revive on Asia's drooping shore
114 My Daphne's groves, or Lycia's ancient plain:
115 Again to Afric's sultry sands restore
116 Embow'ring shades, and Lybian Amnion's fane:
117 Or haste to northern Zembla's savage coast,
118 There hush to silence elemental strife;
119 Brood o'er the region of eternal Frost,
120 And swell her barren womb with heat and life.
121 Then Britain here she ceas'd. Indignant grief,
122 And parting pangs her fault'ring tongue supprest:
123 Veil'd in an amber cloud, she sought relief,
124 And tears, and silent anguish told the rest.

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    About this text

    Title (in Source Edition): THE TEARS of OLD MAY-DAY.
    Themes: weather; grief; sadness; melancholy; nature
    Genres:
    References: DMI 25728

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    A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. IV. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 166-171. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163)

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    The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.