1772
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Jessamine Bower.

Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 16 (18 June 1772) 371.

John Tait


Ten anapestic quatrains, signed "J. Tait." In this pastoral ballad Young Damon utters a love complaint in the Jessamine Bower: "Ye gods of the woodlands, ye patrons of love, | Let Nancy be kind as she's fair, | Or far from my bosom her image remove, | And free me from racking despair." His desires are fulfilled in an unexpected manner that tests the boundaries of the pastoral ballad genre.



Young Damon the shepherd, one ev'ning in May,
Reclin'd in a jessamine bow'r,
Indulging the notes of the amorous lay,
To sorrow devoted the hour.

Of Nancy he warbl'd, of Nancy, whose charms
Beam'd fair in the eyes of the swain;
Of Nancy, whom oft he had woo'd to his arms,
Tho' all his intreaties were vain.

While thus unregarded, the flame in his breast
Burst ardent, despising controul;
He blam'd the dear virgin, the bane of his rest,
And vented the wish of his soul.

"Ye gods of the woodlands, ye patrons of love,
Let Nancy be kind as she's fair,
Or far from my bosom her image remove,
And free me from racking despair."

He pray'd till kind Nature, with bountiful gale,
Collecting the fragrance of spring,
Convey'd the sweet treasure that scented the dale
On Zephyr's ambrosial wing.

The soft lulling murmurs united their sound,
And waited the swain to repose,
While Fancy, still waking, her blessings unbound,
And banish'd the train of his woes;

For Nancy, he thought, with an innocent smile,
Approach'd to the bow'r where he lay,
And fondly imagin'd she mutter'd the while
The folly of Damon's delay.

He thought on his bosom her head was declin'd,
He dream'd she had ravish'd a kiss,
And, toss'd by the transport that swell'd in his mind,
Awoke in a rapture of bliss;

For Nancy so closely was lock'd in his arms,
In vain she attempted to fly;
With ardour he press'd her — she yielded her charms,
And blush'd her consent with a sigh.

How happy together they live in the cot,
Nor envy the splendor of power;
For love and tranquility sweeten their lot,
The guests of the Jessamine bower.

[p. 371]