The Swain's Complaint. A Pastoral Poem.

Town and Country Magazine 7 (December 1775) 664.


Twenty anapestic quatrains signed "Juvenis, Cleveland, Yorkshire." Phillis has jilted Damon for Strephon; the unhappy poet wishes them well, and promises to haunt Phillis after he dies of grief. The poem contains a rehearsal of the ritual pipe-breaking scene: "My crook I have broke, and my reed | No more in the concert doth play, | My flocks too disorderly feed, | And far from my Phillis's stray." The gothic twist at the end of this pastoral ballad recalls Nicholas Rowe's Collin's Complaint.

Oh! where shall I find the retreat,
Which peace for its mansion has chose?
Oh! when shall I see the bless'd seat,
Or meet with a cure for my woes?

Since Phillis, the pride of the plain,
To Damon inconstant doth prove,
His vows she doth treat with disdain,
Nor longer will listen to love.

Then whither, Oh where must I fly!
Can solitude health re-instate?
Can it give to my bosom that joy,
I was robb'd of by Phillis and fate?

Can society comfort impart,
Or the town's busy tumults delight?
Since the nymph that's possess'd of my heart,
With frowns doth my passion requite?

No, — all comfort is fled from my mind,
Nor the town's busy mirth can relieve;
Nor can I from solitude find,
That ease which my Phillis could give.

When Damon was blest in your love,
How oft have I know you resolve,
That constant you ever would prove;
'Till death should our passion dissolve.

Yet health's crimson blush doth remain,
Your cheeks with the tincture doth glow,
And yet you prove fair to the swain,
No longer your smiles you bestow.

When seated beside yon clear stream,
With your face on my bosom reclin'd;
Whilst love was our fav'rite theme,
What harmony dwelt in my mind!

If I doubted your truth you would chide,
And say, that ere faithless you'd prove,
The current would cease then to glide,
Nor stream, when you ceased to love.

Still the water does lucidly flow
Does your love still as constant remain?
Ah Phillis! It murmurs, ah, no!
Echo murmurs it back from the plain.

My crook I have broke, and my reed
No more in the concert doth play,
My flocks too disorderly feed,
And far from my Phillis's stray.

"My Phillis's!" hush'd be the voice,
Now her's do with Strephon's resort,
For Strephon is Phillis's choice,
And Damon is Phillis's sport.

Nor the vale, nor the groves winding shade,
Nor the bow'r which my hands did compose,
Tho' in spring's verdant mantle array'd,
Can charm my fond soul to repose.

When the swains and the nymphs, ever gay,
Join hands, and the dance does go round,
From the throng I dejectedly stray,
And shrink from their pipes jocund sound!

Ye warblers, no longer you please,
No more can your music delight;
From my bosom is banish'd all ease,
Life's lamp is extinguished quite.

Oh Phillis! when I am no more,
Will reflection not torment thy breast?
Will death not thy pity restore,
Nor conscience debar thee from rest?

Now Strephon with Phillida doth rove,
For Strephon poor Damon was scorn'd;
She returns his professions of love,
Nor thinks of poor Damon entomb'd.

But Strephon beware of the maid,
Let not passion thy reason beguile,
Think, Oh think, on poor Damon betray'd!
There's perjury lurks in each smile.

May thy days, gentle swain ever roll,
On a smooth level passage of life;
May ne'er fate thy best wishes controul,
And Phillis bless thee as a wife.

But, Phillis, remember — the swain,
Who when living thy footsteps did tread,
Will attend on thy paths still again,
And haunt thy repose when I'm dead.

[p. 664]