1770
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Ballad.

The Poetical Works of Mr. William Woty, in Two Volumes.

William Woty


A pastoral ballad in six double-quatrain stanzas. Omitting most of the usual pastoral paraphernalia, a particularly bashful swain pleads the sincerity of his love: "In expression let others excel, | My love is a stranger to art: | It may be I speak not so well, | Yet, trust me, I speak from the heart." William Woty, ordinarily attuned to the pulse of popular poetry, seems to have come surprisingly late to the pastoral ballad.

London Magazine: "Mr. Woty has been long eminent as a very agreeable writer upon very trivial subjects, and the present collection is chiefly a republication of what, during a course of several years, has given occasional pleasure in our periodical publications" 39 (April 1770) 486.



Ye swains! that insult o'er my woe,
And make me the jest of the green,
What I suffer ye slenderly know,
My Phillis ye never have seen.
O! she's lovely as thought can express,
As gentle and mild as the dove:
I saw her — and who could do less,
I saw, and I could not but love.

I ne'er told her the anguish I bear,
She might think me presumptuous and bold;
Ah! what need of words to declare
What my eyes must so often have told!
How shall I my love recommend!
I may rob all her heart of its ease;
And sure I must dread to offend,
Whose study is only to please.

They tell me I'm pensive and grave,
Not as formerly cheerful and free;
All pleasures contented I wave,
That spring not, my Phillis, from thee.
Nor riches nor grandeur I mind,
Nor titles to flatter my pride;
To me, if the Nymph is unkind,
All the world's a desart beside.

At each scene of the well-fabled woe,
Where sorrows so forcibly speak,
I mark'd the soft current o'erflow,
And the tear gently steal down her cheek.
I mark'd it! and, trust me, ye fair!
It pleas'd me such softness to see.
Can she melt at a fancy'd despair,
And not have compassion on me?

Her voice sounds so silvery sweet,
When she tells me there's hope for her swain,
My life I'd lay down at her feet
But to hear the dear accents again.
In expression let others excel,
My love is a stranger to art:
It may be I speak not so well,
Yet, trust me, I speak from the heart.

May thy days to thy wishes be blest!
Mayst thou never have cause to repine!
Or, if sorrows thy bosom molest,
Oh! tell them, and they shall be mine.
Will my fair one my service deny?
My presumption will Phillis forgive?
Contented for her I could die,
With whom 'twould be Heaven to live.

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