1802
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ambition, a Pastoral. In the Manner of Shenstone.

Variety: a Collection of original Poems. By a Lady.

Anonymous


Ten double quatrain stanzas, after William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. The speaker complains of a proud, fickle love, becoming a sailor in a failed attempt to forget her; upon his return he discovers that she since had married for money and status. Thus the moral of the ballad: "Ah! beware, ye proud fair, how ye e'er seek to vie | To be rich, to be splendid, and great: | Pomp never with peace can your bosoms supply, | Nor alone e'er make happy your state" p. 92. The meter in this amateurish effort sometimes proves difficult to scan.

Critical Review: "We can adjudge no praise to these productions. What will our readers think to see a passage of Ossian thus versified from a French version? 'The flower when cut down in its prime, as it dies, | Seems to say to the Zephyrs that round its form play, | In vai would ye raise me, for life swiftly flies, | My strength and my beauty untimely decay...'" S2 37 (January 1803) 113.



Ah! ye shepherds, who live on the plain,
Unknowing the cares of the great,
Unknowing what woes on the main
Attend the poor mariner's fate;
Give ear to my tale, 'twas love led me astray:
By experience ere knowledge we gain,
Beware of false hope; with the passion 'twill play,
For the end of its promise is pain.

Learn from me that no absence will ease,
Add no balm to the wounds of the heart,
When only one object can please,
E'en the one that the pang did impart.
I delight but in her who rejected my lay,
Who despis'd every vow that I made,
Who caus'd me to wander, to sorrow a prey,
Ever lost to the sweets of the glade.

No rival I'd then to contend,
My flocks and my herds were not few;
But pride would not let her descend,
To say to my love she'd be true.
She wish'd to forsake the sweet vale,
To be rais'd to an higher estate;
No more listen to each shepherd's tale,
But mix with the proud and the great.

Ah! why should I love one so frail?
Too late I call reason to aid:
Why should misery my fortune assail?
Why ambition attend such a maid?
Alas! 'twas her fault, but she owned no more,
While charms she in thousands possess'd;
Could charity less than one failing look o'er?
Nay, love is half blind at the best.

I shall never forget the fond day,
When once she prov'd kind, when she danc'd,
When she gave me her hand, ah, how gay!
E'en lighter than air I advanc'd.
I date from that moment the source of my woe,
The kindness did cruelty prove;
No partial esteem caus'd her favour to show,
But caprice, undirected by love.

I painted my passion, I painted my grief,
Yet, alas! they were never conceal'd;
For, mine eyes told too plain, when my heart sought relief,
Had my tongue ne'er its sorrow reveal'd.
I forsook, in despair, the place of my birth,
Abandon'd each good, once enjoy'd;
My pipe and my crook are conceal'd in the earth,
My poor flocks, by neglect, are destroy'd.

In hopes to forget her I tempted the main,
Yet in vain was I wafted afar;
My sorrows increas'd as I thought of the plain,
My sighs pass'd unnumber'd in air.
I saw the poor mariner's toil, and I thought
Much greater the weight that I bore;
Tho' with hardships extreme their toil is oft fraught,
Yet 'tis sweet to the woes I deplore.

I return'd to the vale, and Florella had fled,
Was united to one of degree;
With sorrow I learnt, tho' despis'd, that the maid
Had seal'd, in this union, her own misery.
She had no affection for this haughty swain,
She had wedded his wealth, his riches, his power;
She finds that contentment she cannot thence gain,
Her cheek fades ... she lingers each hour.

Ah! beware, ye proud fair, how ye e'er seek to vie
To be rich, to be splendid, and great:
Pomp never with peace can your bosoms supply,
Nor alone e'er make happy your state.
From nought but from virtue we bliss ever know;
On an union so form'd no care would intrude,
Each hope of the heart would in unison grow,
No fear for the future the present o'ercloud.

And, ye shepherds, ere passion is rooted too deep,
Be sure that the fair will return you your love,
Ere that love shall condemn you to sorrow and weep,
Let the maid share your joy, and your misery prove.
I lov'd, was despis'd, was rejected, and scorn'd;
Despair is my portion, my claim upon earth:
By my fate, oh, ye shepherds! then ever be warn'd,
And found your esteem on the basis of worth.

[pp. 89-92]