1780
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Town Ballad.

Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 49 (7 September 1780) 278-79.

Anonymous


Five double-quatrains stanzas, not signed. In this poem the manner of the pastoral ballad mingles with the matter of the town eclogue, resulting in some sour reflections on art and nature: "Too late now, she cries, have I known | What it is to have been topapee, | My bloom of complexion is flown.— | To the aid of the rouge I must flee." Despite the subject, there is only a hint of burlesque in the verse ("Her bosom's distracted with cares: | How artlessly pinn'd is her dress!")



Ye fair ones, so pert and so gay,
Who trip in Mirth's frolicksome round,
Attend to DORINDA'S sad lay,
While her eyes in soft sorrow are drown'd.
Alas! how demure she appears!
The smile no more brightens her face,
Her bosom's distracted with cares:
How artlessly pinn'd is her dress!

Too late now, she cries, have I known
What it is to have been topapee,
My bloom of complexion is flown.—
To the aid of the rouge I must flee.
The fair, who from fashion retire,
In the tents of pure Nature may show,
But those whom in routs they admire,
From Art must exhibit their glow.

Yet why do I feel thus the tears
So pensively water my cheek?
Tho' somewhat advancing in years,
The heart of fond Love I may break:
Some fool still may doat on my charms,
Tho' a wrinkle may somewhere be seen;
Thus the sun, tho' the twilight disarms,
Yet paints with sweet lustre the scene.

When first at the age of fifteen
My glances I darted around,
Romantic! I wish'd but to gain
A heart which sincerity crown'd:
But soon did I learn to my cost,
Her case is but wretchedly poor,
Who by her attractions can't boast
Half a dozen of raps at her door.

Far wav'ring the heart of the fair,
From lover to lover should roll,
As pointing to one should appear,
Like the needle that marks to the pole;
But when by her carriage grown free,
His wishes believe her his own,
Should turn as the leaf of the tree
From the quarter the tempest is blown.

[pp. 278-79]