1765
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Untitled Pastoral Ballad.]

Public Ledger 6 (25 September 1765) 920.

Altamont


Eleven double-quatrain stanzas, signed "Altamont." Strephon's high hopes for the lovely Nelly prove vain, and he resolves to die of a broken heart, ever faithful to his unfaithful love: "When in the cold earth I am laid, | Secure from distress and despair, | Tho' you sorrow to see me betray'd, | To accuse the dear false one forbear." Though somewhat awkward in execution, this untitled poem grasps the essence of the form. The Public Ledger (which is missing several volumes in the Burney Collection) published or republished poems by William Woty, Francis Fawkes, and William Dodd — all writers concerned in The Christian Magazine.

Headnote: "If you think the inclosed lines have merit sufficient to intitle themto a place in your useful and entertaining Paper, by letting them appear in it as soon as you conveniently can, you will not only oblige a constant reader, but Your very humble servant, Altamont."



Beneath a recluse shady grove,
Poor Strephon despairing was laid;
And while his complaint was lost Love,
A mossy green bank was his bed.
The birds in regard to his woe,
Their ditties sung mournfully by,
And the stream that his tears taught to flow,
To his sighs in soft murmurs reply.

How wretched am I and forlorn,
Alas, simple youth! thus he cry'd,
'Twere better I ne'er had been born,
Or the day I saw Nelly had dy'd:
I gaz'd on her beautiful face,
She spoke and I bless'd the dear tongue,
Her voice had such sweetness and grace,
That all nature was still when she sung.

When December's chill frosts did appear,
And isicles hung on each tree,
Her presence made spring of the year,
And her smiles was a summer to me;
All diversions where mirth does abound
Quite insipid appear'd to my eye,
No joy, no contentment I found
Unless my dear Charmer was by.

Each morn, as we walk'd o'er the vale,
On my arm she would gently recline;
So fondly she heard my soft tale,
That I thought she would surely be mine.
With her swift my time flew away,
Each moment was fill'd with delight;
My love was my theme all the day,
And my dreams were of Nelly each night.

But, ah! how deluded was I,
To believe that a Maiden so fair
Would with my fond wishes comply,
Or suppose I deserv'd her least care;
Could I think that a Beauty like her,
Only constant to me would remain;
Or to riches that she would prefer
Humble life with a faithful fond Swain.

To see now, as lonely I pass
Where sweet rural pastimes abound,
When they hear my sad sorrowful case
All the Maidens sit weeping around;
Whilst the Youths once whose envy I've been,
Now with Nelly no more I appear,
When they see how dejected my mien,
'Gainst their wills, cannot pity forbear.

As I saunter along the green mead,
To indulge in this lonely retreat,
My footsteps insensibly lead
To those places where Nelly would meet:
No words can describe the distress
My soul does those moments sustain;
Too mighty by far to express
What throbs from my heart thro' each vein.

No more in those paths will I range
Where all the gay folks we espy;
Like a false one I never can change,
But, as constant I've liv'd — so I'll die.—
To fly from my sorrows, how vain!
What place can e'er give relief?
No distance can ease my fond pain,
No climate can soften my grief.

Then cease, my companions, pray cease,
Your kind, but vain labour resign,
No more will I quit the sad place
Nor at my hard fortune repine.
When in the cold earth I am laid,
Secure from distress and despair,
Tho' you sorrow to see me betray'd,
To accuse the dear false one forbear.

Should she hear for her Love I am dead,
And to the sad place but repair,
For my grief I am doubly repaid,
If she drops but one pitying tear.—
In that thought I'll sink peaceful to rest,
Unmov'd by each tempest that blows;
To the worms will I yield a glad guest,
Nor shall Love more disturb my repose.

When blest in those mansions above
Where never came sorrow or care,
The truth of my passion to prove
The burthen will be of my pray'r,
"That, Heaven indulgent will prove
By granting each blessing of life;
To crown with a faithful fond Love
A consciously fortunate wife."

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