1714
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Shepherd's Week IV. Thursday; or, the Spell.

The Shepherd's Week. In Six Pastorals. By Mr. Gay.

John Gay


Hobnelia casts a love spell.

Samuel Johnson: "The effect of reality and truth became conspicuous, even when the intention was to shew them groveling and degraded. These Pastorals became popular, and were read with delight, as just representations of rural manners and occupations, by those who had no interest in the rivalry of the poets, nor knowledge of the critical dispute" Lives, ed. G. B. Hill (1905) 2:269.

Anna Seward: "Gay's [pastorals] are vulgar, without being humorous. There can be nothing interesting to poetic readers in the genuine ideas of clodpoles and blowy milk-maids, if the characters themselves are not rendered at least laughable amdist their coarse employments and rude wassaling" February 1763; Poetical Works (1810) 1:lxxxiii-iv.

W. J. Courthope: "The genius of Gay was well qualified to embody the mixed feeling struggling for expression in aristocratic society. He had a genuine, if sentimental, affection for rural things, well becoming a Devonian and the fellow-countryman of Browne of Tavistock. But he was also a born parodist; so that when Pope suggested to him the ridicule of Ambrose Philips' Eclogues, he perceived at once the humorous effects that might be produced by blending the classical forms of Theocritus and Virgil with English manners and folk-lore. There is a charming ease and grace in the adaptation of the Pharmaceutria of Theocritus and Virgil to the superstitious spells of the Devonian Hobnelia" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 5:150.

Vinton A. Dearing: "'Thursday' is based on the second half of Virgil's Eclogue VIII, but cannot follow the Latin so closely as 'Wednesday' did because of differences between Roman and English superstitions" Poetry and Prose (1974) 2:529.

John Gay's notes:

8. "Dight" or "bedight," from the Saxon Word Dihtan, which signifies to set in order.

21. "Doff" and "Don," contracted from the Words do off and do on.

64. [Greek characters: As Delphis hath brought me pain, so I burn the bay against Delphis]. Theoc. [2:23-4].

66. Daphnis me malus urit, ego hanc in Daphnide [Virg. Ec. VIII].

93. Transque Caput jace; ne respexeris. Virg.

109. Necte tribus nodis ternos, Amarylli, colores | Necte, Amrylli, modo: & Veneris dic vincula necto. Virg

123. Has herbas, atque haec Ponto mihi lecta venera | Ipse dedit Moeris. Virg.

127. — [Greek characters: An ill drink you shall know it tomorrow]. Theoc [2:58].

131. Nescio quid certe est: & Hylax in limine latrat.



HOBNELIA.
Hobnelia seated in a dreary Vale,
In pensive Mood rehears'd her piteous Tale,
Her piteous Tale the Winds in Sighs bemoan,
And pining Eccho answers Groan for Groan.

I rue the Day, a rueful Day, I trow,
The woful Day, a Day indeed of Woe!
When Lubberkin to Town his Cattle drove,
A Maiden fine bedight he hapt to love;
The Maiden fine bedight his Love retains,
And for the Village he forsakes the Plains.
Return, my Lubberkin, these Ditties hear;
Spells will I try, and Spells shall ease my Care.
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

When first the Year, I heard the Cuckow sing,
And call with welcome Note the budding Spring,
I straitway set a running with such Haste,
Deb'rah that won the Smock scarce ran so fast.
'Till spent for lack of Breath, quite weary grown,
Upon a rising Bank I sat adown,
Then doff'd my Shoe, and by my Troth, I swear,
Therein I spy'd this yellow frizled Hair,
As like to Lubberkin's in Curl and Hue,
As if upon his comely Pate it grew.
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

At Eve last Midsummer no Sleep I sought,
But to the Field a Bag of Hemp-seed brought,
I scatter'd round the Seed on ev'ry side,
And three times in a trembling Accent cry'd,
This Hempseed with my Virgin Hand I sow,
Who shall my True-love be, the Crop shall mow.
I strait look'd back, and if my Eyes speak Truth,
With his keen Scythe behind me came the Youth.
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

Last Valentine, the Day when Birds of Kind
Their Paramours with mutual Chirpings find;
I rearly rose, just at the break of Day,
Before the Sun had chas'd the Stars away;
A-field I went, amid the Morning Dew
To milk my Kine (for so should Huswives do)
Thee first I spy'd, and the first Swain we see,
In spite of Fortune shall our True-love be;
See, Lubberkin, each Bird his Partner take,
And canst thou then thy Sweatheart dear forsake?
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

Last May-day fair I search'd to find a Snail
That might my secret Lover's Name reveal;
Upon a Gooseberry Bush a Snail I found,
For always Snails near sweetest Fruit abound.
I seiz'd the Vermine, home I quickly sped,
And on the Hearth the milk-white Embers spread.
Slow crawl'd the Snail, and if I right can spell,
In the soft Ashes mark'd a curious L:
Oh, may this wondrous Omen lucky prove!
For L is found in Lubberkin and Love.
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

Two Hazel-Nuts I threw into the Flame,
And to each Nut I gave a Sweet-heart's Name.
This with the loudest Bounce me sore amaz'd,
That in a Flame of brightest Colour blaz'd.
As blaz'd the Nut so may thy Passion grow,
For 'twas thy Nut that did so brightly glow.
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

As Peascods once I pluck'd, I chanc'd to see
One that was closely fill'd with three times three,
Which when I cropp'd I safely home convey'd,
And o'er my Door the Spell in secret laid.
My Wheel I turn'd, and sung a Ballad new,
While from the Spindle I the Fleeces drew
The Latch mov'd up, when who should first come in,
But in his proper Person, — Lubberkin.
I broke my Yarn surpriz'd the Sight to see,
Sure Sign that he would break his Word with me.
Eftsoons I join'd it with my wonted Slight,
So may again his Love with mine unite!
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

This Lady-fly I take from off the Grass,
Whose spotted Back might scarlet Red surpass.
Fly, Lady-Bird, North, South, or East or West,
Fly where the Man is found that I love best.
He leaves my Hand, see, to the West he's flown,
To call my True-love from the faithless Town.
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

This mellow Pippin, which I pare around,
My Shepherd's Name shall flourish on the Ground.
I fling th' unbroken Paring o'er my Head,
Upon the Grass a perfect L is read;
Yet on my Heart a fairer L is seen
Than what the Paring marks upon the Green.
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

This Pippin shall another Tryal make,
See from the Core two Kernels brown I take;
This on my Cheek for Lubberkin is worn,
And Boobyclod on t' other side is born.
But Boobyclod soon drops upon the Ground,
A certain Token that his Love's unsound,
While Lubberkin sticks firmly to the last;
Oh were his Lips to mine but join'd so fast!
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

As Lubberkin once slept beneath a Tree,
I twitch'd his dangling Garter from his Knee;
He wist not when the hempen String I drew,
Now mine I quickly doff of inkle Blue;
Together fast I tye the Garters twain,
And while I knit the Knot repeat this Strain.
Three times a True-love's Knot I tye secure,
Firm be the Knot, firm may his Love endure.
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

As I was wont, I trudg'd last Market-Day
To Town, with New-laid Eggs preserv'd in Hay.
I made my Market long before 'twas Night,
My Purse grew Heavy and my Basket light.
Strait to the Pothecary's Shop I went,
And in Love-Powder all my Mony spent;
Behap what will, next Sunday after Prayers,
When to the Ale-house Lubberkin repairs,
These Golden Flies into his Mug I'll throw,
And soon the Swain with fervent Love shall glow.
With my sharp Heel I three times mark the Ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.

But hold — our Light-Foot barks, and cocks his Ears,
O'er yonder Stile see Lubberkin appears.
He comes, he comes, Hobnelia's not bewray'd,
Nor shall she crown'd with Willow die a maid.
He vows, he swears, he'll give me a green Gown,
Oh dear! I fall adown, adown, adown!

[pp. 31-38]