1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Disconsolate Shepherdess: a Pastoral.

Universal Magazine 54 (May 1774) 260-61.

Charles Graham


A pastoral ballad in nine double-quatrain stanzas, signed "C. Graham, Penrith, May 6." Charles Graham, a Cumberland poet, puts the ballad back into this pastoral ballad. The Shepherdess mourns her Damon, who seems to have had a fatal attraction to running water: "Full oft wou'd my my swain, (when impell'd by the heat | Of Phoebus, great regent of day!) | Repair to the river, his fav'rite retreat, | There lave the cool moments away." The poem is also notable for the blazon introduced describe Damon's person at the center of the ballad.

Charles Graham was an occasional contributor to the Universal Magazine throughout the 1770s and 1780s.



No Nymph e'er enjoy'd a more tranquil retreat,
Than fortune bestow'd to my lot;
My lambkins wou'd gambol, and sport at my feet,
Contentment still smil'd on my cot.
I envy'd not others, tho' favour'd with wealth,
Nor pride nor ambition I knew;
I always enjoy'd the sweet comforts of heath,
My moments still chearfully flew.

If a turbulent passion e'er seem'd to invade,
For who will not passions assail?
I then wou'd retire to the heart-soothing shade,
T' improve from the nightingale's tale.
When Aurora, bright goddess! appear'd in the east,
And the lark sung aloud her mild reign;
My flocks wou'd repair to their morning's repast,
And sport on the fresh dewy plain.

Well pleas'd, I beheld the sweet innocents play,
And smil'd at the gambols they made;
But, when the sun shone with too potent a ray,
These witlings I drove to the shade.
As once to the primrosy bank I repair'd,
(The place every sacred to love!)
Young Damon there met me, his passion declar'd,
In a strain which my heart did approve.

Excuse a fond maid that's a stranger to art,
If the youth's lovely form I pourtray;
At least, an imperfect description impart,
For who can his graces display?
His broad manly forehead, embrown'd with the sun,
Had ne'er known a wrinkle, or frown;
The tresses, that did the dear youth so adorn,
In ringlets flow'd gracefully down.

His eyes they were azure, delightful to view!
Thro' which beam'd the traits of his mind;
Spoke the heart which the art of deceit never knew,
But always was pure and refin'd.
The cheeks of my swain were with down overspread,
And blush'd like the rose on the thorn;
His breath diffus'd odours, which instantly fled,
And mix'd with the sweets of the morn.

T' have heard the dear youth, who was form'd so complete,
(The object of Nature's fond care!)
On his pipe breathe the sonnet, in accents so sweet,
Might the heart of a goddess ensnare.
I sing my experience, tho' languid the strain!
More languid the sequel will prove;
No more shall I taste the sweet joys of the plain,
Since torn from my arms is my love!

Full oft wou'd my my swain, (when impell'd by the heat
Of Phoebus, great regent of day!)
Repair to the river, his fav'rite retreat,
There lave the cool moments away.
One bright sunny morn, as I drove forth my flock,
The health giving sweets to inhale;
When, lo! on the sudden my heart felt a shock,
And a murm'ring ran thro' the vale.

The flocks of young Damon promiscuously ran,
Wide-scatter'd, and bleating amain;
And all seem'd the haunt of their shepherd to shun,
Whilst terror o'erspread the wide plain.
"O Heavens!" I exclaim'd, and I sprung thro' the brake,
The birds in sad concert did mourn;
For Damon, ah! luckless! had stray'd to the lake,
Alas! never more to return!

Ye Nymphs, who preside o'er the pure limpid stream,
Or rove the green willows among;
Make the woes of young Damon your favourite theme,
For Damon delighted in song.
And should your soft music, ah! hopeless the strain!
E're wake the dear shade of my love!
Oh! waft him with speed to the cold dewy plain,
To soothe the sad nymph in the grove.

[pp. 260-61]