A Pastoral Ballad. Of Simplicity.

Poems, chiefly by Gentlemen of Devonshire and Cornwall. In Two Volumes. [Rev. Richard Polwhele, ed.]

Edward Drewe

Eight quatrains, after William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. This third of Edward Drewe's three Shenstone burlesques is the most subtle, allowing a series that tended towards self-parody to begin with stray just over the line. The topics developed in the quatrains were all standard fare, save the last where Drewe introduces a classical goddess to absurd effect. The poet had known the Exeter poet Richard Hole at Oxford, and had latterly become a member of the literary coterie organized by Hugh Downman and Richard Polwhele.

Edward Drewe to Richard Polwhele: "I am sorry you was prevented dining with me. And I am vex'd at not meeting you this day. Downman was ill; I took the chair for him. Swete will tell you that our society promises to be on a grand basis; no trifling essays.... With a little dash to the pro and con I think our poetical work mends in the page of criticism. Suppose we tempt it further by taking out in another volume those threads which are too rough to assimilate with the general texture. Write to me about all this" November 1792; Polwhele, Traditions and Recollections (1826) 1:310-11.

The spring it is coming on fast,
The birds they are percht on the sprays,
The wintery frosts they are past,
The shepherds are tuning their lays.

The trees are cover'd with leaves,
The ground it is cheerfully green,
But still the lost Corydon grieves,
For Phillis is not to be seen.

The daisey is raising its head,
The golden-cups cover the ground;
See my heards on the meadow are spread,
See my flocks they are feeding around.

But my heards they no longer delight,
Nor my flocks can give pleasure to me;
For say, is the daisey so white?
Or the golden-cup brighter than she?

My mind it is tortur'd with doubt,
My breast is tormented with fear;
Like a madman I run all about,
And I ramble I do not know where.

I sleep not a wink all the night,
And my days they do dolefully pass;
'Till I see her (oh! exquisite sight!)
Come tripping it over the grass.

Oh! say, can'st thou hear me complain,
Nor list to thy shepherd so true?
Oh! come, and give life to the swain
Who now is a dying for you.

No hurt, my sweet Phillis shall ail,
By Venus the goddess I vow;
For whilst I am holding the pail,
Why — she shall be milking her cow.

[pp. 105-06]