Four double-quatrain stanzas signed "J— W—," a regular contributor to the Weekly Magazine at this era. More than most, the Shepherd's Complaint is a pastoral ballad resembling Elizabethan prototypes with its lyric imagery and over-the-top rhetorical posturing: "O ye linnets, give over your lay, | And abroad let the nightingale stroll, | With the stock-dove I'll groan thro' the day, | And at night I'll lament with the owl." The mournful swain proposes to "dig me a cave in the ground" where he proposes to remain until Florella "from his cloister release."
To the woods and the groves I'll complain,
I'll sing to the echo alone,
For mankind but sport with my pain,
And laugh at my amorous moan:
But no peace can their jeerings impart,
Nor their laughter my sorrows remove,
—Ah me! how contracted the heart,
Till refin'd and expanded by love!
No swain was more jocund than I,
To mirth I devoted the day;
But now to the breezes I sigh,
And breathe out my sorrowful lay:
How sad and how lonely the scene!
What a change has the grove undergone!
No joys can I find on the green,
For, alas! my FLORELLA is gone!
She's gone — ah, there's death in the sound!
She's gone — and her absence I mourn:
I will dig me a cave in the ground,
I will weep till FLORELLA return.
O ye linnets, give over your lay,
And abroad let the nightingale stroll,
With the stock-dove I'll groan thro' the day,
And at night I'll lament with the owl.
A chaplet of willow I'll twine,
(Meet garb for the shepherd that mourns,)
But in trappings more gaudy I'll shine,
When my faithful FLORELLA returns:
Then haste, lovely maid! to the grove,
And thy swain from his cloister release;
One glance all his pains will remove,
One smile will recover his ease.