1788
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Happy Villager.

Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (23 September 1788).

Lerbitm


Seven anapestic quatrains, signed "LERBITM." In this variation on the Pastoral Ballad theme the poet refashions the retirement ode by praising the happy life of rural laborers. This improbable theme may be accounted for by the fact that the poet is taking his imagery from Goldsmith's The Deserted Village rather than Shenstone and his imitators: "Thus, with pleasure he passes the gay circling year, | Whilst each day with contentment is crown'd, | And at night, with a noggin of brown nappy beer, | They quaff it so merrily round."



How happy a state does the Rustick enjoy
Whose breast with contentment e'er glows,
A stranger to bustle, no cares to annoy,
His time with sweet harmony flows.

No thoughts to perplex or to ruffle his mind,
No cares but his Nelly to please;
Contented he laughs at the storms or the wind,
For his breast's ever calm and at ease.

He gaily gets up with the Lark in the morn
And away to the field briskly hies,
To plow, or to sow, or to cut down his corn,
Whilst mirth ever beams in his eyes.

Thus, with pleasure he passes the gay circling year,
Whilst each day with contentment is crown'd,
And at night, with a noggin of brown nappy beer,
They quaff it so merrily round.

Or at even, with pleasure, his work being done,
He trips to the village I ween,
Where the Lads and the Lasses are jovially gone
To enjoy the gay dance on the green.

Or with joy, to the wake, with his Nell doth repair,
Smartly deck'd in his holiday vest;
Or when with her at harvest-home, shearing, or fair,
Sure no villager e'er was more blest.

Then search city or town, 'tis but bustle and strife,
There grandeur and wealth may abound;
But health, peace and contentment, the true joys of life,
In the cot are alone to be found.

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