The recent query as to the exact meaning of the
shepherd's tale in L'Alkgro suggests that the poets, though on the whole they have described the English country better than any prose-writer, have been singularly weak critics of any farming operation. It has been alleged against Robert Bridges, the supreme poet of the Thames valley, that lie makes the cows eat poison ! "—in peace
The lazy cows wrench many a scented flower. Robbing the golden market of the bees."
Cows, say the realists, do not eat buttercups! But Bridges may have meant the golden pollen common to nearly all flowers ; and dandelions after all are good and wholesome food, though stock avoid the flower, indeed, nearly all flowers, in