A Pastoral.

European Magazine 14 (July 1788) 68-69.


Nine double-quatrain stanzas, signed "Camisis." This contribution to the series of poems imitating Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad pushes the limits of the form by raising the tone of the love-complaint to something very like a shriek. It seems very self-consciously done, the singer whipping his tired jade of a form for all it is worth: "Poor wretch! how I pity his woes, | Who yet doats on — yet doubts of his fair: | None, none know what he undergoes; | 'Tis an agony past all compare!" A Pastoral is printed on the same page with an allegorical Ode to Indifference by the same poet, treating the same theme in an equally conventional form.

Ah, me! what an anguish is mine,
What a heart-rending torture I feel!
Sweet Hope! at thy smiles I repine,
And I doubt what I dare not reveal.
See the roses they fade from my cheek;
See the lustre it glooms on my eye:
I must find what I tremble to seek,
I must weep at her falsehood and die.

'Tis distraction to love her in vain;
Would to heav'n I was freed from my grief!
Yet, methinks, I could bear ev'n this pain,
Than, Indifference! implore thy relief.
True, I grant thou canst quiet my breast;
Thou canst restore, I grant, my lost peace:
Yet is is but the stupor of rest,
And I scorn such a wretched release.

Yet why should I — why should I not?
She was once kind and constant, most sure;
But her constancy now is forgot,
And her kindness remember'd no more.
O fool! thus to publish her shame;
O, fool! thus to bear with her will.
If I love her — I'm surely to blame;
If I slight her — I'm more to blame still.

Fond thoughts! must I bid you adieu?
Must I bid you a lasting farewell?
Since Eliza has thus prov'd untrue,
Calm Retirement! how welcome thy cell!
Thy cell, by the mountain so lone,
Where, while bleak blows the whistling wind,
I will mix with the blast my sad moan,
With the blast than Eliza more kind.

All frantic and wild let me fly,
Let me fly to some desolate spot,
Where in peace I may languish and die,
Where my mem'ry may soon be forgot;
Where my green turf may flourish unknown,
Nor one tear o'er my cold corpse be shed;
Nor one plaint — save the nightingale's moan,
That shall warble my sorrows when dead.

Ah! wherefore, to poison our joy,
Should Affection with Jealousy join?
Would too soon the sweet luxury cloy,
Did not thus the two passions combine?
Poor wretch! how I pity his woes,
Who yet doats on — yet doubts of his fair:
None, none know what he undergoes;
'Tis an agony past all compare!

Heaven knows I would give all I have,
(And I would it were ten times as much)
To be thought but her poor faithful slave;
Yet I may not be reckon'd as such.
Then should grief in her bosom appear,
Or gay joy flutter round her fond heart;
For the one I would shed a soft tear,
For the other forget all my smart.

Oh ye scenes! that delight now no more,
And thou grove! 'mid whose shades I've oft mus'd,
Ye can never my quiet restore;
Believe me — I've much been abused.
This poor heart, and I speak it with pain,
That would die for the fair faithless maid,
Has conceal'd all its sorrows in vain,
For Eliza my love has betray'd.

Inconstant! I fly from thy arms:
Inconstant! I loathe the vile sound,
She is true — but alas! she has charms,
And her charms do her constancy wound.
Would to heaven I was freed from my pain;
Yet I feel — though I cannot tell why—
I should wish for my torture again;
Should again hail the heart-rending sigh.

[pp. 68-69]