1772
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Ballad, in imitation of Wm. Shenstone, Esq.

Town and Country Magazine 4 (April 1772) 215.

Leander


A pastoral ballad signed "Leander" in seven double-quatrain stanzas. The theme of this poem is constancy, a property Corydon finds more of in his dog Tray than in his lover Phillis: "Alas! then my Phillis was kind, | And now as unkind she does prove; | But I'll chase her sweet form from my mind, | And I'll pluck up the roots of my love." This love complain concludes with the ritual resolution to quit the plains: "Flocks, cottage, and Phillis, farewell." Feminine inconstancy had been the theme of Shenstone's pastoral ballad. Other pastoral ballads by an Oxford Leander were published in the Town and Country Magazine in 1775 and 1776.



Ye shepherds attend to my lay,
Your Corydon's loss to deplore!
Time was, when like you, I was gay,
But I ne'er shall know happiness more;
My sheep they must wander alone,
And crop the sweet grass as they rove,
For Corydon's cares of his own,
Since Phillida has slighted his love.

How oft with my frolicksome Tray
I have saunter'd the woodlands among;
But I frighten'd no birds from the spray,
I never molested their young:
In safety they warbled their song,
The larks and the linnets so gay;
I took but my dog, and my gun,
A pretence for to wander that way.

When we've promis'd each other to meet,
And Phillis should happen to stray,
How oft, with my dog at my feet,
I have pip'd the slow hours away:
Ah! then shou'd a breath stir the grove,
Shou'd a rustle but faint catch my ear,
How fondly I've thought 'twas my love!
How sincerely I've wish'd might be her!

When she sung in a pastoral strain,
Each shepherd wou'd lay down his flute;
While sweetly re-eccoed the plain
With the music of Phillis's throat:
The birds caroll'd blithe on the spray,
To rival my Phillis's tune;
And they thought, for so sweet was her lay,
It was Philomel singing at noon.

But who'd think she so faithless cou'd prove;
When once as we sat on the plain,
While the birds in the neigh'bring grove,
With their melody heighten'd the scene!
Near by was a pair of fond doves,
Who were cooing their bliss in a bow'r,
When she said, with a smile, that their loves,
Were never so mutual as ours.

Alas! then my Phillis was kind,
And now as unkind she does prove;
But I'll chase her sweet form from my mind,
And I'll pluck up the roots of my love:
But shou'd she with smiles meet my sight,
And with her fond sweetness appear,
I shou'd think her, as once — my delight,
And, as once, I shou'd think her sincere.

Ah! no, she's not destin'd for me,
For alas! she her vows hath forsworn,
And a heart that is once gone astray,
Will never, ah! never return:
Then straight the dear plain I will fly,
Nor near the fair trait'ress dwell;
My pipe, dog, and shepherds, good by'e,
Flocks, cottage, and Phillis, farewell.

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