A poem in blank verse, in four books and a final hymn, by J. Thomson (1700–48), published 1726–30.
‘Winter’ was composed first; it describes the rage of the elements and the sufferings of men and animals; two well‐known episodes are the visit of the redbreast to a family who feed him crumbs from the table, and the death of a shepherd in a snowdrift. Many of the passages are notably sublime.
Next came ‘Summer’ (1727), which sets forth the progress of a summer's day, with scenes of hay‐making, sheep‐shearing, and bathing, followed by a panegyric to Great Britain and her ‘solid grandeur’. It also includes two narrative episodes, one of the lover Celadon whose Amelia is struck by lightning, the other of Damon who beholds Musidora bathing.
‘Spring’ (1728) describes the influence of the season on all the natural world, and ends with a panegyric on nuptial love.
‘Autumn’ (1730) gives a vivid picture of shooting and hunting, of harvesting, wine‐making, etc., and ends with a panegyric to the ‘pure pleasures of the rural life’. It includes the episode of Palemon who falls in love with Lavinia, a gleaner in his fields, based on the story of Ruth and Boaz.
The text of Haydn's oratorio Die Jahreszeiten (1801) was adapted from Thomson by Baron van Swieten.
Related content in Oxford Index
James Thomson (1700—1748) poet