John Stanley
(1712 - 1786)

Stanley : The god Vertumnus loved Pomona fair : illustration

The god Vertumnus loved Pomona fair
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Cantata VI from Stanley's set of six cantatas published in 1744.An incident from Ovid's Metamorphoses (book IV), most probably for use in the London pleasure gardens, particularly Vauxhall.
Lyrics: Anon

The god Vertumnus lov'd Pomona fair,
A nymph that made the orchard's growth her care,
Nor thought of love. A thousand shapes he tries,
But all in vain, to please the virgin's eyes.
At length a matron's sober form he wears,
Furrow'd with age and drown'd with silver hairs,
Enters with tott'ring step the silent grove,
And thus attempts to warm her heart with love.

What beauteous scenes enchant my sight,
How closely yonder vine
Does round that elm's supporting height
her wanton ringlets twine;
That elm (no more a barren shade)
Is with her clusters crown'd,
And that fair vine without this aid
Had crept along the ground.

Let this, my fair one, move thy heart,
Connubial joys to prove;
Yet mark what age and care impart,
Nor thoughtless rush on love.
Know thy own bliss and joy to hear
Vertumnus loves thy charms;
The youthful god that rules the year,
And keeps thy grove from harms.

While some with short-liv'd passion glow,
His love remains the same,
On him alone thy heart bestow
And crown his constant flame.
So shall no frost's untimely pow'r
Deform the blooming spring:
So shall thy trees, from blasts secure,
Their wonted tribute bring.

In vain he pleaded, but at length resum'd
His own bright form, where youth celestial bloom'd,
Around his temples blush'd a roseate wreath;
His golden locks luxuriant wav'd beneath.
The wond'ring nymph this pleasing change survey'd,
Till by degrees her former scorn decay'd;
Her heart dissolv'd, a soft unknown desire
She felt, and sighing, own'd a mutual fire.

When youth and kind occasion press,
And love appears in beauty's dress,
What nymph but must comply?
No nymph but must comply.
But rigid rules and counsels sage,
The weak efforts of wither'd age,
Alas, in vain we try.