"Looked Unutterable Things"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The Seasons broke a great deal of new ground in English poetry. Thomson was a forerunner of romanticism; and in this first long-sustained poem to deal primarily with nature, he introduced a number of qualities unique at the time. These included love of natural scenery, humanitarianism, and vivid imagery. He is at times sensuous and there is occasionally a certain fantasy in his work. The poem is also important for its reintroduction of blank verse, part of Thomson's successful effort to establish Milton as a leading force in English poetic tradition. Spring describes the gradual fading of winter and its replacement by warmth and sunlight, seedtime, new growth, love and the renewal of all things. In Summer, Thomson continues his description of the changing world of nature; the gentle air of spring is replaced by the hot sun and brilliant light of summer. The poet observes that he must find himself some shade and seek fresh inspiration there. He considers the short and peaceful night and the early dawn that follows, revealing a world refreshed. "The dripping rock, the mountain's misty top,/ Swell on the sight, and brighten with the dawn./

Blue through the dusk the smoking currents shine;/ And from the bladed field the fearful hare/ Limps, awkward; while along the forest glade/ The wild deer trip, and often turning gaze/ At early passenger. Music awakes/ The native voice of undissembled joy:/ And thick around the woodland hymns arise." Thomson regrets that more people do not awake in time to enjoy "the cool, the fragrant, and the silent hour." The sun rises, flooding the earth with "fluid gold." After a brief hymn to the sun and its creator, Thomson follows this world of the pastoral poem through a day of happiness and frolic, health and rewarding labor. The blistering midday sun, the sultry early afternoon, and the cool forest shade are all a prelude to the summer thundershower, which gathers swiftly and breaks with brief but stunning violence. At this point he introduces Celadon and Amelia, pastoral figures who are unaware of their love for one another until they are caught in the storm:
Down comes a deluge of sonorous hail,
Or prone-descending rain. Wide rent, the clouds,
Pour a whole flood; and yet, its flame unquench'd,
Th' unconquerable lightning struggles through,
Ragged and fierce . . .
And yet not always on the guilty head
Descends the fated flash. Young Celadon
And his Amelia were a matchless pair;
With equal virtue form'd, and equal grace . . .
They lov'd: but such the guileless passion was,
As in the dawn of time inform'd the heart
Of innocence, and undissembling truth.
'Twas friendship heighten'd by the mutual wish;
Th' inchanting hope, and sympathetic glow,
Beam'd from the mutual eye. Devoting all
To love, each was to each a dearer self;
Supremely happy in th' awaken'd power
Of giving joy. Alone, amid the shades,
Still in harmonious intercourse they lived
The rural day, and talk'd the flowing heart,
Or sigh'd, and look'd unutterable things.