A pastoral ballad in 60 anapestic quatrains, signed "W. B., January, 1781." In the first of the four parts, "The Complaint," Strephon declares his love for Ariana and instructs the nightingale to inform her of this fact. In Part II, "Fear," he encounters a group of damsels and swains who ask the source of his sorrow, and are informed that it is Strephon's fate to be a lonely outcast. In Part III, "Solitude," Strephon retires to a gloomy grotto to indulge his grief, and imagines his farm going to waste; should Ariana return, however, it would blossom like the spring. In the final part, "The Farewell," Strephon presents a reprise of what he had said before, asserting that the plain affords no pleasures so long as Ariana refuses to smile. While pastoral ballads, as ballads, allowed great metrical freedom, these Four Pastorals push the limits of permissible incompetence.
THE COMPLAINT. PART I.
Attend all ye nymphs of the plain,
'Tis beauty inspires my song,
'Tis beauty I sigh for in vain,
With sorrow these notes that prolong.
Thro' divers wild mazes I tread
Where Nature's rich bounty profuse
Throws flow'rs o'er hill and o'er mead,
And streams in meanders that flows.
Yet there no delight can bestow,
Nor gild the soft moments that glide
Tho' gentle the zephyrs that blow,
Along the sweet banks of the Bride.
For by a fair fountain reclined;
Whose streams in soft cadence run by
Ariana enraptur'd my mind,
And caus'd me incessant to sigh.
The bright painted ensigns of morn,
Whose splendors embroider the East
Still ever rise on me forlorn,
Still ever find me sore distrest.
Love beams from her sweet sparkling eyes!
Is cent'red within her soft breast!
As you view her new beauties arise,
Appear in gay order confest!
Her voice! — It is music to hear,
Such softness! — it dwells on her tongue,
Enraptur'd by it, I draw near
So sweet! so harmonious her song!
How oft' in fond fancy reclin'd,
In vision my charmer I see,
But alas! 'tis delusion I find,
No perfect enjoyment for me.
So transient the fancied delight,
So frequent that visits in sleep,
So short the deceptions of night,
That leaves us awake but to weep.
Ah! Philomel tune the dear strain,
Which Fancy and Love can inspire;
While night cloaths in russet the plain,
And Phoebus bright blushes retire.
And tell the dear maid that a swain,
Never lov'd more sincere nor more true,
And tell her his anguish and pain,
Is equall'd on earth but by few.
And tell her, for her he must die,
So melt all her soul into love,
In notes that may ring thro' the sky,
And make all harmonious the grove.
And if, when my suit you prefer,
A tear of soft pity shou'd flow;
And that she'd give ear to my pray'r,
What joy in my bosom wou'd glow.
Just like the glad hours that bring,
The fresh rising gales of the morn,
And like the sweet blossoms of spring,
The face of all Nature adorn.
My moments all tranquil wou'd glide
So smooth — ! Oh so sweet they would flow
No shepherd so happy beside,
As I thus so favour'd wou'd know.
Our flocks — then would vie with the snow,
Our fields — wou'd float over with corn,
Our rivers with silver should glow;
And violets the meadows adorn!
No shepherd like Strephon be found;
So constant, so faithful, so true,
For her whom the graces surround,
Shou'd bless him with raptures still new.
FEAR. PART II.
Engrav'd by the pencil of love,
Her image's impress'd on my mind,
Ah wou'd she so tender might prove,
As faithful sincere and as kind!
But I fear that the Fates will deny,
A blessing so great to my flame,
And hopeless still leave me to sigh,
Invoking in sleep her dear name.—
Lately I trip'd over the green,
And wandered in sorrow away,
Where others more social were seen,
In the calm closing hour of day.
With them — Oh how chearful and free!
The hours unminded pass'd o'er
But languid and tedious with me,
For pleasure with me is no more.
A train of fair damsels draw nigh,
With shepherds along the green glade,
They stop'd, — and they ask'd me for why,
So lonesome I sought the deep shade?
See Nature they say'd, all around,
How lavish! how rich her array,
How sweet! On how pleasing the sound
Of linnets that sing on each spray!
So sweet blows the Eglantine bow'r!
So sweet is the roses in bloom!
So mild, so refreshing each show'r,
That heightens their fragrant perfume!
Must love then so absolute reign,
To riffle the blossoms of peace,
And is there no nymph of the plain,
That equals Ariana in grace?
'Tis true I replied the gay scene,
With pleasures unnumber'd abound,
And chearful contentment is seen,
To tread in gay mazes around.
Of nymphs of the plain there may be,
That equal Ariana in mien,
But none has such charms for me,
Of all the fair maids of the green.
An outcast alone sure am I,
No friend to take part in my grief,
But lonesome I wander and sigh,
None pities or grants me relief.
They sneer and they laugh at my woe,
Despis'd and forsaken the while,
Amidst their gay circles ne'er go,
Nor even am bless'd with a smile.
How then shall I hope to obtain,
The girl that I love and admire,
Since scorned by all the gay train,
Rejected I'm forced to retire.
So in that deep thicket and shade,
Immur'd and forgotten I'll lie,
And still ever love the dear maid,
For whom I must languish and die.
SOLITUDE. PART III.
Then witness, ye shady deep grove,
To whose gloomy coverts I fly,
That Ariana alone is my love,
For whom I must languish and die.
Ere the bright rising blushes appear,
Diffus'd o'er the face of the morn,
To yonder deep grott will repair,
All shades and covered with thorn.
There pensive and lonely remain,
There my vows and devotions will pay
Till night shall extend her domain,
And spread o'er with darkness the day.
With my tears I will water the ground,
While nightingales warble their loves,
While mists and dark vapours surround,
And deepen with horror the groves.
Beneath some old willow reclin'd.
Whose branches hang mournfully down,
I'll sit and will ponder in mind,
Those hours of bliss that are flown.
My pipe on the branches that hung,
No more will with Hyacinths dress,
But wreath'd all in Cypress the song
Of my love for Ariana rehearse.
To the valleys around will proclaim,
What charms in her person appear,
And often invoke her dear name;
By the tender addition of "dear."
Each softest expression which love,
In all its extream can express,
Shall constant resound thro' the grove;
And mournful flow thro' my verse.
The thickets shall closer intwine,
To wrap me within their deep shade
And its closest recesses be mine,
Until I obtain my dear maid.
No more the fresh fountains and flow'rs,
That lately allur'd me to roam,
The grotto's, cascades and green bow'rs,
Mark the spot that so late was my home.
But gloomy surrounded by shade,
In this lonesome wild far away;
No more their blest tracts shall I tread
Or spend in sweet labour the day.
No more shall my fair fleecy care,
Around me so sportingly play,
Nor the flow'rs industry did rear,
Expand their sweet blooms to the day.
Uncultur'd neglected they lie,
All wither'd quite faded and gone,
Whose odours perfumed all the sky,
Are now all abandon'd and flown.
What anguish! what pain must be mine,
If ever I visit them more,
To see that fair garden declin'd,
That lately so flourish'd before.
But if my dear fair shou'd appear,
The lilies and roses wou'd bloom,
Expand all their leaves to the air,
And spread far and wide their perfume.
Like Spring her gay presence wou'd be,
Her eyes wou'd revive the sweet scene,
So joyous the fair one to see,
The lambkins wou'd skip o'er the green.
Her absence like some cruel blast,
Has nip all the blossoms away,
O may she return at last
And chear with her presence like May.
THE FAREWELL. PART IV.
Adieu, ye sweet cottage and bow'r,
How blest was your humble retreat!
Contented I spent ev'ry hour,
With lambkins that play'd at my feet.
Soft echo I talk'd with, the while,
That faithful re-answer'd my song,
While peace so serene with a smile,
Attended my footsteps along.
How oft by the clear river side,
So tired I sunk to repose;
Its streams in soft cadence did glide,
Refreshing the banks as it flows.
These joys ne'er again I shall know,
The innocent pastime is o'er,
Yon stream from its fountains shall flow,
But back again wander no more.
Ye nymphs and ye swains now adieu,
Abandon'd and lonesome I fly:
For now there's no comfort with you;
Since my dear Ariana's not nigh.
Before I had known the dear maid,
Your presence drove sorrow away,
When e'er we convers'd in the shade,
Or walk'd in the cool of the day.
The first infant blossoms of Spring,
I'd crop and wou'd lay at her feet,
Each bird as a present wou'd bring,
Whose note was harmonious and sweet.
The pleasure I've sought for in vain,
These presents my love shou'd approve
And kindly attend to the strain,
I'd sing in her praise through the grove.
But Fortune a foe to my bliss,
Has sunk me below her esteem,
And what I've lost besides this,
The peace that I ne'er can redeem.
In vain shall the season appear,
That cloaths all the landskip in green,
To chear with its presence the year,
And robe in new beauty the plain.
The larks in the morn shall arise,
The groves as harmonious shall be:
Their music delight and surprize,
But these have no charms for me.
If Ariana refuses to smile,
All then is a desart around,
No more shall the seasons beguile
Or music breathe rapture around.
[pp. 734-35, 44]