Pictures From Theocritus

William Lisle Bowles 1762 (King's Sutton) – 1850


Goat-herd, how sweet above the lucid spring
The high pines wave with breezy murmuring!
So sweet thy song, whose music might succeed
To the wild melodies of Pan's own reed.


More sweet thy pipe's enchanting melody
Than streams that fall from broken rocks on high.
Say, by the nymphs, that guard the sacred scene,
Where lowly tamarisks shade these hillocks green,
At noontide shall we lie?
No; for o'erwearied with the forest chase,
Pan, the great hunter god, sleeps in this place.
Beneath the branching elm, while thy sad verse,
O Thyrsis! Daphnis' sorrows shall rehearse,
Fronting the wood-nymph's solitary seat,
Whose fountains flash amid the dark retreat;
Where the old statue leans, and brown oaks wave
Their ancient umbrage o'er the pastoral cave;
There will we rest, and thou, as erst, prolong
The sweet enchantment of the Doric song!


Mark, where the beetling precipice appears,
The toil of the old fisher, gray with years;
Mark, as to drag the laden net he strains,
The labouring muscle and the swelling veins!
There, in the sun, the clustered vineyard bends,
And shines empurpled, as the morn ascends!
A little boy, with idly-happy mien,
To guard the grapes upon the ground is seen;
Two wily foxes creeping round appear,--
The scrip that holds his morning meal is near,--
One breaks the bending vines; with longing lip,
And look askance, one eyes the tempting scrip.
He plats and plats his rushy net all day,
And makes the vagrant grasshopper his prey;
He plats his net, intent with idle care,
Nor heeds how vineyard, grape, or scrip may fare.


Where were ye, nymphs, when Daphnis drooped with love?
In fair Peneus' Tempe, or the grove
Of Pindus! Nor your pastimes did ye keep,
Where huge Anapus' torrent waters sweep;
On AEtna's height, ah! impotent to save,
Nor yet where Akis winds his holy wave!


Pan, Pan, oh mighty hunter! whether now,
Thou roamest o'er Lyceus' shaggy brow,
Or Moenalaus, outstretched in amplest shade,
Thy solitary footsteps have delayed;
Leave Helice's romantic rock a while,
And haste, oh haste, to the Sicilian isle;
Leave the dread monument, approached with fear,
That Lycaonian tomb the gods revere.
Here cease, Sicilian Muse, the Doric lay;--
Come, Forest King, and bear this pipe away;
Daphnis, subdued by love, and bowed with woe,
Sinks, sinks for ever to the shades below.


He left us;--we, the hour of parting come,
To Prasidamus' hospitable home,
Myself and Eucritus, together wend,
With young Amynticus, our blooming friend:
There, all delighted, through the summer day,
On beds of rushes, pillowed deep, we lay;
Around, the lentils, newly cut, were spread;
Dark elms and poplars whispered o'er our head;
A hallowed stream, to all the wood-nymphs dear,
Fresh from the rocky cavern murmured near;
Beneath the fruit-leaves' many-mantling shade,
The grasshoppers a coil incessant made;
From the wild thorny thickets, heard remote,
The wood-lark trilled his far-resounding note;
Loud sung the thrush, musician of the scene,
And soft and sweet was heard the dove's sad note between;
Then yellow bees, whose murmur soothed the ear,
Went idly flitting round the fountain clear.
Summer and Autumn seemed at once to meet,
Filling with redolence the blest retreat,
While the ripe pear came rolling to our feet.


When the famed Argo now secure had passed
The crushing rocks, and that terrific strait
That guards the wintry Pontic, the tall ship
Reached wild Bebrycia's shores; bearing like gods
Her god-descended chiefs. They, from her sides,
With scaling steps descend, and on the shore,
Savage, and sad, and beat by ocean winds,
Strewed their rough beds, and on the casual fire
The vessels place. The brothers, by themselves,
CASTOR and red-haired POLLUX, wander far
Into the forest solitudes. A wood
Immense and dark, shagging the mountain side,
Before them rose; a cold and sparkling fount
Welled with perpetual lapse, beneath its feet,
Of purest water clear; scattering below,
Streams as of silver and of crystal rose,
Bright from the bottom: Pines, of stateliest height,
Poplar, and plane, and cypress, branching wide,
Were near, thick bordered by the scented flowers
That lured the honeyed bee, when spring declines,
Thick swarming o'er the meadows. There all day
A huge man sat, of savage, wild aspect;
His breast stood roundly forward, his broad back
Seemed as of
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Submitted on May 13, 2011


William Lisle Bowles

William Lisle Bowles was an English poet and critic In 1783 he won the chancellors prize for Latin verse In 1789 he published in a small quarto volume Fourteen Sonnets which were received with extraordinary favour not only by the general public but by such men as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Wordsworth The Sonnets even in form were a revival a return to an older and purer poetic style and by their grace of expression melodious versification tender tone of feeling and vivid appreciation of the life and beauty of nature stood out in strong contrast to the elaborated commonplaces which at that time formed the bulk of English poetry more…

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    "Pictures From Theocritus" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 Sep. 2020. <>.

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