1819
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Sigh.

Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review 1 (29 May 1819) 27.

Anonymous


A pastoral ballad in four double-quatrain stanzas, not signed. The poet is at first mystified by Matilda's response to his addresses: "'Have you thought on the theme I address'd | In the church way, when no one was by?' | She answers with bosom oppress'd, | 'I am thine,' — and it comes with a sigh." This very late example of the genre lacks the eighteenth-century pastoral imagery and irony that characterized earlier instances of the genre.



At noon, when Matilda I meet,
Where the chesnut tree spreads its cool shade,
While nightingales charm the retreat,
Thus I question my delicate maid:
"Have you thought on the theme I address'd
In the church way, when no one was by?"
She answers with bosom oppress'd,
"I am thine," — and it comes with a sigh.

I conjure her to tell me the cause;
Is there ought in my manners or mien,
Unworthy to meet her applause?
Did I slight at the dance on the green?
She tells me there's all to approve,
Yet a something I see in her eye;
And although she declares she can love,
Her answer still comes with a sigh.

If a moment the cause could be known,
I would give, — but have patience awhile,
I have nothing to give that's my own,
Save the profit that springs from my toil.
I surely have found out the cause,
When she answers me, prudence is by;
Tho' my manners may meet her applause,
My poverty wakens the sigh.

Go Fortune, still 'tend on the great,
On the wretch too important to love;
Go, bask on the cushions of state;
But leave me in anguish to rove.
Tho' my heart is sincerely her own,
From her presence for ever I'll fly,
She shall not be wedded to moan;
Lest I couple a tear with a sigh.

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