1778
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Burlesque Pastoral. In imitation of Shenstone.

Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (2 January 1778).

R.


Five quatrains in the meter of Shenstone's very popular Pastoral Ballad, signed "R." The poet takes aim at the insipidity of the pastoral ballad genre, which the Weekly Magazine had been pursuing with great enthusiasm since its inception a decade earlier. The poet draws upon the conventional association between verse and flowing waters: "So sweetly they seem'd for to play, | And bubbled, and bubbled along, | I said, pretty stream! play away, | And charm me again with thy song." The burlesque pokes gentle fun at the taste for rural simplicity common to imitations of Shenstone and Spenser alike.



On the side of a murmuring stream,
As lately I laid myself down,
Ye Shepherds, I chose for my theme,
To mark how the waters did run.

So sweetly they seem'd for to play,
And bubbled, and bubbled along,
I said, pretty stream! play away,
And charm me again with thy song.

The pebbles, so neat, and so clean,
So handsomely spread on the ground,
Did also contribute, I ween,
To send forth a musical sound.

Ah! murmur, still murmur, says I,
And up I arose on my feet;—
But being, ye Shepherds, too nigh,
My stockings and shoes they were wet.

Then home to my cottage I'll go,
And, tho' there no reason be why,
I'll give up myself to my woe,
And when my time comes — I will die!

[p. 12]