Oft Have I Read That Innocence Retreats

Thomas Parnell 1679 (Dublin) – 1718

Oft have I read that Innocence retreats
Where cooling streams salute ye summer Seats
Singing at ease she roves ye field of flowrs
Or safe with shepheards lys among the bowrs
But late alas I crossd a country fare
And found No Strephon nor Dorinda there
There Hodge & William Joynd to cully ned
While Ned was drinking Hodge & William dead
There Cicely Jeard by day the slips of Nell
& ere ye night was ended Cicely fell
Are these the Virtues which adorn the plain
Ye bards forsake your old Arcadian Vein
To sheep those tender Innocents resign
The place where swains & nymphs are said to shine
Swains twice as Wicked Nymphs but half as sage
Tis sheep alone retrieve ye golden age.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Thomas Parnell

Thomas Parnell was an Anglo-Irish poet and clergyman who was a friend of both Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. He was the son of Thomas Parnell of Maryborough, Queen's County now Port Laoise, County Laoise}, a prosperous landowner who had been a loyal supporter of Cromwell during the English Civil War and moved to Ireland after the restoration of the monarchy. Thomas was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and collated archdeacon of Clogher in 1705. He however spent much of his time in London, where he participated with Pope, Swift and others in the Scriblerus Club, contributing to The Spectator and aiding Pope in his translation of The Iliad. He was also one of the so-called "Graveyard poets": his 'A Night-Piece on Death,' widely considered the first "Graveyard School" poem, was published posthumously in Poems on Several Occasions, collected and edited by Alexander Pope and is thought by some scholars to have been published in December of 1721 (although dated in 1722 on its title page, the year accepted by The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature; see 1721 in poetry, 1722 in poetry). It is said of his poetry 'it was in keeping with his character, easy and pleasing, ennunciating the common places with felicity and grace. more…

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"Oft Have I Read That Innocence Retreats" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 13 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/37030/oft-have-i-read-that-innocence-retreats>.

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