1777
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Ballad.

Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 36 (5 June 1777) 336.

D. C.


A pastoral ballad of unusual form, signed "D— C—, Banks of Leven, May 1777." After an introduction in anapestic quatrains, the poem unfolds in the manner of a pastoral eclogue in couplets (or in the case of this mixed form, one might say couplet-quatrains). Colin encounters Sylvia in the meadows, and proceeds to act up to his character: "How sportive the nymphs in yon neighbouring grove! | All Nature proclaims it the season of love! | Come, Sylvia! and listen to Colin's soft lay, | Consent, and be wedded, 'tis the prime of the May!" Sylvia declares her intention to die an old maid, but Colin is hard to resist. From other poems in the Weekly Magazine it appears that D. C. was a woman writer.



When Phoebus had ting'd the grey mountains with light,
And shone thro' the chinks of the bow'rs;
When the warblers had shook off the dullness of night,
And lambkins sipt dew from the flow'rs,
Young COLIN was plodding the meadows among,
Where SYLVIA happen'd to pass,
His heart how it flutter'd to find her along!
While thus he saluted the lass:

COLIN.
Behold, my dear Sylvia! the welkin how clear,
Hear the lark how she carols, and hails the gay year!
From the brake sings the thrush, in wild woodland notes,
And music responsive in mid aether floats.

SYLVIA.
Yes, Colin! the fields and the laylocks are gay,
And the birds, with their warblings, make vocal the spray,
The aether, refulgent, bears a pure azure dye,
And the landscape, besure, is most sweet to the eye.

COLIN.
How sportive the nymphs in yon neighbouring grove!
All Nature proclaims it the season of love!
Come, Sylvia! and listen to Colin's soft lay,
Consent, and be wedded, 'tis the prime of the May!

SYLVIA.
Such scenes of soft transport may easily move,
And fire ev'ry vein of a nymph made for love;
But these can't conspire my chaste passions to aid;
If Sylvia can do it, she'll die an old maid.

COLIN.
Ah Sylvia! see Doris, the pride of the green,
Since wedded to Thyrsis, how happy she's been!
Her days pass in sunshine, good humour, and glee,
Such days shall be your's if once knitted to me.

SYLVIA.
For cunning and treach'ry, renown'd are your sex,
You love us, poor maidens! to teaze and perplex;
Beware, ye young virgins! how a husband ye take,
Least in quest of the lambkin, ye tread on the snake.

COLIN.
While bees love the sweetness of Hyblean flow'rs,
And shepherds take pleasure in soft vernal show'rs;
While goats brouze the mountains, and kine love the plain,
So long constant to Sylvia will Colin remain.

SYLVIA.
If Colin's sincere, and but means as he says,
I'm almost persuaded to list to his lays;
Ye race of blind Cupids! ye de'ties above!
How shall I determine 'twixt reason and love?

COLIN.
Ye guardians of virtue! whom shepherds revere,
And scan all their actions, ye know I'm sincere!
Oh! teach a young heart, unpractis'd in wiles,
How to win the fair Sylvia, her favour and smiles!

SYLVIA.
Such sweetness and candour your words do impart,
With blushes I own it, you've conquer'd my heart;
Cou'd I think, when you wed me, you'd love me for life,
Here's my hand, — to the parson, and make me your wife.

BOTH.
No trouble from thenceforth shall Colin e'er know,
Except the sweet cares that from pleasing do flow;
And Sylvia taste nought but the sunshine of love,
Which years of content will to raptures improve.

[p. 336]