1775
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Retirement: a Ballad.

Westminster Magazine 3 (March 1775) 160-61.

R. Teede


A pastoral ballad in ten double-quatrain stanzas, signed "R. Teede, Soho, March 11." As the title suggests, this is a retirement ode. The several devout sentiments expressed lend the poem a distinctly clerical cast: "May Pride ne'er approach my abode! | With Humility wishing to dwell, | With fond Charity lighten the load | Of the wretched who visit my cell." I have not identified the poet, who contributed several poems to the Westminster Magazine.



Unattun'd are my pipe and my reed
To the softness of pastoral verse,
I attempt, without hope to succeed,
Simplicity's charms to rehearse.
From a Town full of pleasures devis'd
To destroy reputation and health,
I go to where Virtue is priz'd
Beyond the advantage of wealth:

Where the swains, with content ever gay,
Know Luxury only by name;
Where the shepherdess, bright as the day,
Thinks Pleasure and Virtue the same;
Where Truth is esteemed as most fair,
Religion ne'er treated with scorn;
Where the Lover doth never despair,
Nor the Maid ere forsaken, forlorn.

Recluse in the shadowy wood,
I'll rise with the lark in the morn,
I'll sigh with the murmuring flood,
And sing with the thrush on the thorn;
To each will I sympathy yield,
'Tis all my fond heart can bestow:
O grant while I traverse the field,
Such pleasure I ever may know!

Each of these will my kindness requite
With a sympathy equal to mine,
The lark will me rouse with the light,
And teach me a mattins divine!
Every morn as his nest he forsakes,
And fluttering seeks the soft sky,
To his warbling he instant betakes,
And praises his Maker on high!

The stream that glides smooth thro' the dale
Is oftentimes ruffled by wind,
So a rudeness in life will prevail,
When passion distempers the mind:
E'en the varying pebbles that lay
And occasion the murmuring flow,
The little misfortunes display
By the which we Mortality know.

In the thrush, I with ease may discern
Content in the lowliest lot;
From his song never-ending may I learn,
That happiness dwells near my cot:
If to him the strong pinion's deny'd,
Which the eagle so lofty doth rear,
Not curs'd with his towering pride,
He moves in a pleasanter sphere.

He never repines at the plumes
Adorning the peacock's gay sun,
Nor with wish discontented presumes
To envy his sovereign, Man:
O may I for ever retain
Emulation to vie with his peace,
For the good I receive on the plain,
For praises like his never cease!

May Pride ne'er approach my abode!
With Humility wishing to dwell,
With fond Charity lighten the load
Of the wretched who visit my cell;
At the foot of a neighbouring beech,
The little Experience has taught,
Persevering, the swains I will teach,
The pride of poor Man is but nought!

That our highest opinions of worth
We should ever by Virtue adjust,
That heaping the riches of earth
Is merely the hoarding of dust;
That Vice, which to them is unknown,
Is to every blessing a bane;
That the folly which ruins the Town
Must ever be banish'd the plain.

Whilst thus I my morals diffuse,
'Gainst Vice my own bosom I'll steel,
And happily court the fair Muse,
Who Truth can in fiction conceal.
Until I such blessings shall know,
As those who reside in the glade,
Where joy from Retirement doth flow,
Untun'd be my pipe ever laid!

[pp. 160-61]