1781
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Ballad. In Two Parts.

St. James's Chronicle and British Post (18, 21 August 1781).

Anonymous


Sixteen double-quatrain stanzas, the two parts published in two installments. The anonymous poet, a cottager on the Scottish border, complains of the treatment he has received from a high-born lady, warning his fellows that all is not as the "false Songsters" would have one believe: "Simplicity's Pleasures retire, | And Sorrow possesses the Grove, | Where Interest and Pride but conspire, | To banish sweet Friendship and Love." In the concluding stanza he breaks his pipe in the best Colin Clout manner. This poem was promptly reprinted in two London newspapers.

Headnote: "Sir, The following Lines were written last Summer in Ayrshire, by a young Scotchman. They were occasioned by the unfavourable Reception of a Poem presented to a young Lady on her Birth-day. If they are not destitute of Merit, it is requested you will favour them with a Piece in your Paper — making suitable Allowances for the Difficulty of coming up to the natural Elegance and Simplicity of Pastoral Poetry — 'Pindarum quisnam studet aemulari?' Who can rival Shenstone?"



PART I. REPROOF.
Ye Shepherds so foolish and vain,
Who fancy true Pleasure your own,
Contentment abandons the Plain,
And Peace from the Vallies is flown.
No more your false Songsters believe,
Who sing the sweet Grove and the Stream,
Their Flatt'ries are meant to deceive,
Their Songs are no more than a Dream.

In vain from the bustling of Strife,
To your boasted Retreats we repair,
Or hope, in your pastoral Life,
To shun Disappointment and Care!
Simplicity's Pleasures retire,
And Sorrow possesses the Grove,
Where Interest and Pride but conspire,
To banish sweet Friendship and Love.

But chief in the Breasts of your Fair,
In the Bosoms where Softness should dwell,
Ah! why is not Tenderness there?
Has she bid them for ever farewell?
Nought but Fortune's the Trophy that's priz'd,
Nought but Wealth their hard Bosoms can move,
And the humble poor Shepherd's despis'd
Where Fortune is only — his Love.

For Marian one Garland I bound,
Ah Garland! the Cause of my Woe!
Sweet Flow'rets entwin'd it around,
The sweetest these Borders bestow.
To her Shrine, when, with Rev'rence, I bore
The Wreath my own Hands did adorn,
The Gift from her Altar she tore,
And treated the Giver with Scorn.

I ne'er meant a wrong Boon to bestow,
Nor to wound her soft Eyes with my Lays,
But she spurn'd, that a Shepherd so low
Presum'd but a Note in her Praise!
Had a Fav'rite of Fortune preferr'd
Such a Music, her Heart to incline,
The Song she with Rapture had heard,
Had the Notes been less tender than mine.

When her Vanity told her 'twas Love
That taught my soft Numbers to flow,
Tho' my Weakness she ne'er could approve,
Had she nought of Compassion to show?
When her image my Fancy possess'd,
And my Heart its soft Wishes betray'd,
'Twas my Crime that her Merit I bless'd,
And — 'tis thus she my Blessings repaid.

No numerous Flocks could I boast,
And few were the Lambs of my Fold,
'Twas therefore I su'd to my Cott;
'Twas therefore her Bosom was cold!
Yet, when she had robb'd me of Rest,
When she saw she had ruin'd my Mind,
Had Tenderness lodg'd in her Breast,
Methinks she had prov'd less unkind.

To her Passion I never aspir'd,
The Nymph is of haughty Degree!
Her Love ne'er my Bosom had fir'd,
For Love had been Madness in me.
'Twas Friendship that prompted my Lay
Her Pride did reject with Disdain—
Accurs'd be my Pipe that could play
So soft and so sweetly — in vain.


PART II. FAREWELL.
No more will I Marian upbraid,
Or the Peace of her Bosom alarm;
My Numbers not soften the Maid,
Nor her Heart of its Hardness disarm.
The Thought of the Woes I have ber'n,
No more in my Memory shall live;
'Twas her Pride a poor Shepherd to scorn,
'Twill be mine — to forget and forgive.

'Twas my Folly that hasten'd my Doom,
I attun'd to her Friendship my Reed:
How could my Ambition presume
My Music could merit the Meed?
Then let me not Marian blame;
Her Pride might be Prudence of Mind,
Perhaps I deserved my Shame,
Perhaps she was never unkind.

But why should her Shepherd remain
Where his Sight so offensive is grown?
I'll fly to some friendlier Plain,
She will never once dream I was known.
Her Breast will ne'er beat when I part,
Nor her Eye with soft Pity o'erflow:
Yet — I leave her the Wish of my Heart,
And — I'll bless her wherever I go.

Adieu to the Greenwood and Grove,
To the Lawn, to the Bank, to the Stream!
Where Damon so pleasingly strove
To tune so sweet Numbers his Theme!
Some Songster, more worthy the Lays
Will sit by my favourite Thorn,
And warble his Marian's Praise,
Nor warble her Praises — forlorn.

Ye Cowslips! enamel her Glades!
Ye sweetest Anemonies! blow;
Ye Hyacinths breathe in her Shades;
Around her, ye Violets! grow.
Never more thro' your Wilds will I roam,
Nor your Sweets by my Hand be carest!
Some Favourite of Marian's will come,
And wreathe your soft Spoils for her Breast.

Ye Redbreasts! so plaintive and mild!
Ye Thrushes! ye murm'ring Doves!
Ye Woodlarks, with Warblings so wild!
Ye Linnets, that call for your Loves!—
Sing on, and sing sweet in her Ear;
No more I your Concert shall join:
Some happier Pipe will be here,
And its Sound will be sweeter than mine.

Ye Lambkins! how bless'd had I been!—
But I leave you — sweet Younglings! feed on.
Be sportive as e'er on the Green,
Nor bleat, tho' your Master be gone;—
Some Shepherd, deserving your Care,
Shall shield you from Fox and the Thorn,
At Eve in his Bosom shall bear,
And lead you forth blithe in the Morn.

Farewell to the Flocks of the Mead!
Farewell to the Songs of the Plain!
I'll take both my Crook and my Reed,
And thus — thus I break them in twain—
To the City, the Crowd, let me go,
And leave my Maria behind,
New Beauties will soften my Woe,
And banish her Form from my Mind.

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