1791
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Song.

Poems pastoral, satirical, tragic, and comic. By John Learmont. Carefully corrected by the Author.

John Learmont


A Scots song in thirteen anapestic quatrains. Eigtheenth-century readers seem to have associated the "simplicity" of the Pastoral Ballad series with the amorous topics of the ever-popular Scots songs. Here Jamie and Jeany patch up a small difference, and the lyric concludes with a sententious observation: "Sae eas'ly's the untutored heart | Ay made to love or disdain, | When alternately pleasure and smart | Removes or confirms its pain." "Marion," the third party in this pastoral, may derive from the amorous Marian in the pastorals of Philips and Gay. The compositor seems to have had some difficulty with this poem, and indeed some of the lines are difficult to scan.

Little is known of John Learmont apart from the fact that he was employed as a gardener near Edinburgh. His volume explores a variety of pastoral modes, up to and including a pastoral drama in imitation of Allan Ramsay. The Happy Complainer, pp. 100-102 may also be part of the Pastoral Ballad sequence. It is written in English, though violates the norms of the series by adopting the ballad format in its quatrains, rhyming abcb.



"Come to the heights wi' me bonny Jean,
The sun he is just i' the rise,
The blue lift'is a spangled wi' sheen,
And the lav'rock's hich i' the skies.

"The dewy drops shine sweet on the bud,
The gouk's serenading the grove,
And the wild dows i' ilka green wood
As sweetly are cooing their love."

"It is health to walk out i' the morn,
There's life i' the balmy air;
We'll woo by our favourite thorn,
Till the laive o' the shepherds appear."

"Indeed, Jamie, I winnae gang
For nae pretension or pray'r,
Yestreen ye wi' Marion was thrang
And whan ye woo ye're sincere.

"Ye fancied there was nae body saw,
When ye came hame frae the height,
Ye Marion decoyed to the shaw,
And ye ken gyn ye did right—

"Her head was fair towsle'd I wat,—
Her cheeks war red as the glied,—
Her breast it play'd ay pit-a-pat—
And she sicht fair i' her bed.—

"And whan she look't at ye niest day,
The blush owr-crimson'd her face;
But it was nae the look o' dismay,
Nor yet the blush o' distress.—

"And whan that I jeer'd her a wee,
She tauntin' bade me gie o'er,
Said 'She was looed better than me,
By ane ne'er thought o' before.'

"I hae right i' my side, Jamie lad,
Sin' I've been faithfu' to you:—
An' truth cannae roose the yound blade
What lichtly loups o'er his vow."

"Ah Jean! I ne'er thought your fair breast,
On whilk I hae aft reclin'd,
Could e'er harbour a thought o' distrust,
Or reck her shepherd unkind.

"May my lambkins a' die i' the fauld,
My kye hae distempers arise,
An' myself ne'er grow lyart or auld,
Gif ever Marion's my wife."

Jeany lap to his arms like a rae,
Wi' hounds an' hunters pursu'd;
An' a that she had spoken that day—
She blushin' and greetin' rued.

Sae eas'ly's the untutored heart
Ay made to love or disdain,
When alternately pleasure and smart
Removes or confirms its pain.

[pp. 112-15]