1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Pastoral Ballad.

Morning Chronicle (2 May 1796).

Anna Seward


Five double-quatrain stanzas, after Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. Anna Seward's poem, inviting a "dearest Maid" to share the pleasures of a country life, is one of several in the series written by provincial writers: "Then Hawthorns, flow'ring in the glen, | Shall guard the warbling Plumy Throng; | Nor boast the busy haunts of Men | So fair a scene, so sweet a song." While the themes and imagery are common to the sequence, Seward writes in iambics rather than the usual anapestic meter. The double-quatrain stanza, like the Spenserian, had many short- and long-line variations, and I have not attempted to collect all of the lyric poetry tangentially related to the pastoral ballad genre.

General Evening Post: "We must remark that in the structure and sentiments of the following Ballad, Miss S. seems to have had in view th Scotch Song of Etrick, Banks, a composition of the most exquisite tenderness and touching simplicity" (14 June 1796).



O, share my Cottage, dearest Maid!—
Beneath a Mountain, wild and high,
It nestles, in a silent glade;
And Wye's clear current wander by.
Each tender Care, each honest Art
Shall chase all future want from thee,
When thy sweet lips consent impart
To climb these steepy hills with me.

Far from the City's vain parade,
No scornful brow shall there be seen;
No dull impertinence invade,
Nor Envy base, nor sullen Spleen.
The shadowy Rocks which circle round
From Storms shall guard our sylvan Cell;
And there shall ev'ry joy be found
That loves in peaceful vales to dwell.

When late the tardy Sun shall peer,
And faintly gild yon little spire;
When nights are long, and frosts severe,
And our clean hearth is bright with fire,
Sweet tales to read — sweet songs to sing!—
O, they shall drown the wind and rain
E'en till the softened season bring
Merry Spring-time back again!

Then Hawthorns, flow'ring in the glen,
Shall guard the warbling Plumy Throng;
Nor boast the busy haunts of Men
So fair a scene, so sweet a song.
Thy arms the new-yean'd Lamb will shield,
And to the sunny shelter bear;
While, o'er the rough and breathing field,
My hands impel the gleaming share.

Ne'er doubt our Wheaten ears will rise,
And full their yellow harvest glow;
Then prove, with me, the sprightly joys
That Love and Industry bestow.
Their jocund power can banish strife,
Her clouds no passing day will see,
Since all the leisure hours of life
Shall still be spent in pleasing thee.

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