Silvia letts from the Crowd retire


The cautious Lovers.

Primary Text:

MS Folger, 258-60*.

Some good stanzas from Folger text:

[3]The World a vast Meander is
Where Hearts confus'dly stray
Where few do hitt whilst thousands misse
The happy mutual way . . .

[5]Where some too soon themselvse misplace
Then in another find
The only Temper Witt or Face
That cou'd affect their Mind . . .

[12]In ancient History we meet
A flying NYmph beray'd
Who had she kept in fruitfull Crete
New Conquests might have made

[13]And sure as on the Beache she stood
To view the parting Saylses
She curs'd her Self more then the Flood
On the conspiring Gales . . .

Secondary Eds:

1713 Misc, 118-22 ; rpt of 1713: 1903 Reynolds, 147-9; rpt of 1903 Reynolds: 1930 Fausset, 69-71.


1724 The Hive II 139-41.


Rpt of 1713/1903: 1905 Wordsworth (compiled 1819), 28-31 (omits stanzas 9-10).


A unnamed male is the first speaker of this 15 stanza poem. In its first 8 stanzas he warns Silvia of how parents, herself and other lovers will betray. It is very rare that two people come together who are deeply congenial, and even if they do, someone more fitting often comes along. He seems to suggest that she therefore yield to her impulse to give herself to him. You cannot withstand nature so divert yourself. The 9th stanza opens with two connecting lines by the narrator and then for the rest of the poem Silvia adduces Ariadne's fate (pictured in some effective stanzas); she fears hurt. The "moral" drawn is cheerless repression: "Who though their Int'rest shipwrack'd are/Keep unreprov'd their Wit." Although the woman may, even must end, shipwrecked, at least she will not have the humiliation of knowing she's been a fool.
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