1809
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Shepherd's Complaint: a Pastoral, in imitation of Shenstone.

The Poetical Magazine 2 (1809-10) 142-43.

J. Lilly


Seven double-quatrain stanzas, signed "J. Lilly, Ipswich," not identified. This is a very late contribution to the series of poems imitating William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad, with its distinctive anapestic meter: "No joy with my flocks I now find, | No comfort in tending my sheep; | Since Eliza I've left far behind, | I have sought but to sigh and to weep." While the image of the shepherd playing his lute to his sheep seems like a nineteenth-century touch, the poem might otherwise date from the 1770s.



Ye shepherds, attend to my tale;
Ye swains, so contented and free,
Who dwell with your sheep in the vale,—
Time was, I was happy as ye.
Time has been, — but, alas! is no more,
When Love dwelt so sweet on my tongue,
Not a nymph, search the vale o'er and o'er,
Was left by my Muse yet unsung.

To the groves now I make my complaint,
To the hills and the dales make my moan;
No words can my grief truly paint,
Which I feel as I wander alone.
No joy with my flocks I now find,
No comfort in tending my sheep;
Since Eliza I've left far behind,
I have sought but to sigh and to weep.

Once in keeping my flocks on yon hill
I the purest of pleasures did know;
They from Nature's green couch took their fill,
Or press'd the soft flow'rets below;
And when they laid still on the ground,
With my lute some fond air would I play;
And ye shepherds can witness around,
No swain was more blithesome and gay.

O, ye sweet golden moments of ease!
Tho' far from me now ye remove,
'Twas you made my labours to please,
Till my heart felt the inroads of Love:
Till then happy Peace, like the sun,
On me and my flocks did attend;
With peace were my labours begun,
And with peace too at eve did they end.

Since Love has my bosom annoy'd,
Rural blessings to me are but few;
All scenes of delight are destroy'd;
Peace of Mind and Contentment, adieu!
Farewell, ye lov'd shades of repose—
Ye shades where I've tended my sheep,
Where the lover unburdens his woes,
Where the wretch unmolested may weep!

Farewell to the grot and the grove,
Where the woodbine and jessamine grow,
Where the chaste nightingale and the dove
Pour forth their sad accents of wo.
Plaintive birds, ah! like me now they mourn,
The loss of their mates they deplore;
Like me, from each comfort they're torn—
Like me, they court Pleasure no more.

Let me seek, in the wilds far remote,
Some hermit's or anchorite's cell,
Where no footsteps intrude to denote,
Or point out the place where I dwell:
There, secluded, my days will I spend,
For joys that are past will I sigh;
There in secret my sorrows I'll end,
There, unknown, unlamented, I'll die!

[pp. 142-43]