1763
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexis. A Pastoral Ballad. In Two Parts.

St. James's Magazine 1 (February 1763) 408-12. [Robert Lloyd, ed.]

A Lady


Sixteen double-quatrain stanzas, after William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. The poem is signed "A Lady." This narrative pastoral presents a feminine variation of Shenstone's tale. It opens with Alexis praising Daphne's beauties and complaining of her coyness: "When Daphne appear'd in the mead, | Her presence enliven'd the morn, | Now the winds roughly blow round my head, | And the sun's cheerful beams are withdrawn." Pastora happens by, and expresses sympathy for him: "Could her Int'rest with Daphne prevail, | His suff'ring should soon find redress." The next day Alexis meets Pastora again and repeats his complaint; this is followed by other conversations, resulting in a change in the swain's affections: "'Twas no longer for beauty he sigh'd, | He no longer to merit was blind, | 'Twas his joy, and a laudable pride, | That he valued the charms of the mind." Having learned his lesson, Alexis offers his hand to Pastora and is accepted.



Alexis, the pride of the plain,
Beside a clear brook lay reclin'd,
His complaint was fair Daphne's disdain,
Who had prov'd to the shepherd unkind.
His flock was no longer his care,
His pipe now no longer could please,
He neglected his dress and his hair,
And by solitude fed his disease.

Poor shepherd! he wildly exclaim'd,
Alas! what avails all thy moan?
The joys thy fond fancy had fram'd,
With Daphne for ever are flown!
How could you, Oh! Daphne, deceive,
A swain not unworthy your love?
Why didst thou, Alexis, believe,
Such a maid could thy passion approve?

Her form is replete with each grace,
The diamond beams forth in her eye,
The lily expands o'er her face,
And the rose-bud imparts its soft dye.
No warbler can rival her song,
Philomela with envy complains,
The streams glide in silence along,
The glad Zephyrs diffuse her soft strains.

When Daphne appear'd in the mead,
Her presence enliven'd the morn,
Now the winds roughly blow round my head,
And the sun's cheerful beams are withdrawn.
No longer these meadows look green,
Now the warblers abandon the grove,
The air breathes no longer serene,
All summer is fled with my love!

Oh! Daphne, you heard my fond sighs,
You did not my passion disdain,
When I gaz'd with delight on your eyes,
My soft glances you did not restrain!
But now you make sport of my woes,
And laugh at the sufferings I feel,
I enjoy not the sweets of repose,
Nor can I my torments conceal!

Farewell ye sad scenes of my love,
I shall never revisit you more!
Adieu to the mead and the grove,
'Twas here I first learn'd to adore!
I will banish this wretch from her sight,
I know not what fate may ensue,
Never more can I taste of delight,
To ev'ry enjoyment adieu!

PART THE SECOND.
With a torrent of heart-bursting grief,
Alexis continues his moan,
Tears gave him some little relief,
Yet he ceas'd not to sigh and to groan.
Pastora, by chance hasten'd by,
She saw the poor shepherd's despair,
Soft pity appear'd in her eye,
She ask'd him the source of his care.

What cause has Alexis to weep?
With looks of compassion, she said.
Have you lost e'er a lamb or a sheep?
Or, is Tray the poor favourite dead?
Or, perhaps your fair Daphne's unkind,
Perhaps for her coyness you grieve,
Ah! 'tis jealousy poisons your mind!
But appearances often deceive.

The shepherd just rais'd up his head,
He thank'd the kind maid for her care,
He confess'd that all comfort was fled,
And nothing was left but despair.
Pastora ev'n wept at the tale,
And wish'd she could ease his distress,
Could her Int'rest with Daphne prevail,
His suff'ring should soon find redress.

He gaz'd on the fair with surprize,
And admir'd the good-nature she shew'd;
When she went he withdrew not his eyes,
But with pleasure her footsteps pursu'd.
Her sweetness, her beauty, and truth,
With Daphne's late falsehood compar'd,
So charm'd, so astonish'd the youth,
That his heart for a change was prepar'd.

Yet still his fond wish would arise,
Ah! was but my Daphne thus kind!
I would wipe off these tears from my eyes,
And give up my sighs to the wind!
He said, and arose from the ground,
Then instant return'd to his cot,
Soon in sleep ev'ry suff'ring was drown'd,
And Daphne's unkindness forgot.

With the sun the next morn he arose,
Pastora he sought in the grove,
He repeated the tale of his woes,
And mourn'd the sad fate of his love!
Pastora heard ev'ry complaint;
Again he imparted his grief,
He talk'd without fear or constraint,
And found from her converse, relief.

The friendship he felt for the fair,
Each meeting still serv'd to improve;
He then blest his late cause of despair,
And became a true votary to love.
'Twas no longer for beauty he sigh'd,
He no longer to merit was blind,
'Twas his joy, and a laudable pride,
That he valued the charms of the mind.

Pastora, with blushes confest,
That he felt all the force of true love,
But that reason her passion supprest,
Yet that now she must own and approve.
She soon gave her hand to the swain,
Who proclaim'd to each shepherd this truth;
He had met a reward for his pain,
More lasting than beauty and youth.

When spring decks with verdure the mead,
Love wafts milder fragrance around;
When summer invites to the shade,
Love strews with fresh flow'rets the ground.
In autumn thro' corn-fields they rove,
And their loves as in spring-time appear,
Tho' winter disrobes the known grove,
Yet their love varies not with the year.

Ye nymphs to this maxim attend,
Tho' beauty a while may allure,
Yet, to fix in the lover, the friend,
'Tis virtue alone is secure!
Ye swains, who are caught by a face,
Know, that beauty will quickly decay,
That virtue still heightens each grace,
And imparts, more than time steals away!

[pp. 408-12]