1761
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Inconstant Swain.

Gentleman's Magazine 31 (July 1761) 327.

Anonymous


A pastoral ballad in ten anapestic quatrains, not signed. Silvia, madly in love with the artful Damon, is tortured by the recollection that he has previously jilted Molly and Lucy: "His speeches, like poison, thrill thro' all my veins, | And much I'm inclin'd to believe, | Ah, Silvia, beware, for thy lover but feigns, | His pleasure is till to deceive." The Gentleman's Magazine would publish comparatively few pastoral ballads, perhaps because they were regarded as subliterary, or possibly because this periodical in the late eighteenth century inclined more towards neoclassical forms.



Young Damon's the brightest of all the gay swains,
'Tis he who has won my fond heart,
'Tis he of whose falseness each maiden complains
Each maiden for him feels the smart.

Alas how bewitchingly sweet he appears,
When low at my feet he does lye,
And whispers so softly those words in my ears
Oh Silvia, for you I must die.

I fain with disdain would his passion repel,
But still I attempt it in vain,
Since my eyes interpret my heart but too well,
Too well they its wishes explain.

Ah, surely 'tis malice, my shepherd's bely'd,
I say to myself with a sigh,
The envious nymphs would our passion divide,
And leave me to sorrow and dye.

What, tho' he to Molly has prov'd insincere,
The maid whom he once much admir'd,
Yet Molly so wanton and loose did appear
That her lovers she always has tir'd.

But why did he Lucy the lovely deceive,
That charmer of every eye?
Ah, how could he leave the sweet virgin to grieve,
To languish, to suffer, and dye?

Oh! why was he formed so outwardly fair,
Thus finish'd with every grace,
So matchless his shape, so noble his air,
And adorn'd with each beauty his face.

In accents so tender his love he declares,
And presses me oft to comply,
His torture's so great, he ardently swears
That unless I relieve him he'll die.

His speeches, like poison, thrill thro' all my veins,
And much I'm inclin'd to believe,
Ah, Silvia, beware, for thy lover but feigns,
His pleasure is till to deceive.

Which way shall I go, his addresses to shun?
To what distant plain must I fly?
How wretched's the maid who is each way undone
For refusing or granting I dye.

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