1783
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Love-sick Shepherd, a New Song.

Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (17 March 1783).

T. S.


Six double-quatrain stanzas, signed "T. S." who later reprinted the poem when he was a regular contributor to the poetry column of the Morning Chronicle. In this variation on the Pastoral Ballad theme Colin, smitten by love, travels to the city in hopes of suppressing his affections for the fair Pastora. The idea fails, of course: "Heartsick of pursuit; of his crosses and woes, | He resolv'd to return to the plain, | To seek for content in the lap of repose, | But never to ramble again." The traveling shepherd motif had been used by many pastoral poets, including Spenser in his September eclogue.



Young Colin was gay as a shepherd could be,
No care had unsettled his rest,
'Till Love interfer'd with his past'ral glee,
And slily invaded his breast.
His hook and the charge of his flocks he resign'd,
Neglected his pipe and his song;
The sports of the nymphs and the swains he declin'd,
And pensively pac'd it along.

Ah, what should he do? to what refuge repair
To seek the lost peace of his mind?
Tho' Patience and Time seem'd to promise him fair,
A cure in new objects to find;
The streams in meandering murmurs deny'd
To give to his anguish relief,
And the gliding creation, who people the tide,
Were mute, as unheeding his grief.

And next in the woody recesses, he found
Devices of love on the trees,
Love warbled in song on the boughs all around,
To Zephyrs who danc'd in the breeze;
The birds in full matins gave early delight,
Or incessantly chanted the day,
While the vespers were sung by the bird of the night,
And all but poor Colin were gay.

At length the gay City, of famous report,
Allur'd him in fancy to try,
What the circles of pleasure or crowded resort,
The Court or the Play cou'd supply.
But Love he soon found was a Courtier well known
To the belles and the beaux of the land,
With Virtue and Beauty attended the Throne,
And shar'd in the Royal Command.

The Play in each scene gave his passion fresh smart,
'Twas the chit-chat of courtship refin'd;
And the love tale still deeper affected his heart,
The tale to his own was inclin'd;
Nor cou'd the melodious languishing strain,
Of Music his passion remove,
Since Music itself, as the Poet says plain,
Itself is the food of true Love.

Heart-sick of pursuit, of his crosses, and woes,
He resolv'd to return to the plain,
To seek for Content in the lap of Repose,
But never to ramble again;
And soon with Pastora the Shepherd was blest,
The innocent cause of his flame,
While Love on each side, from a troublesome guest,
A pleasing companion became.

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