1777
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Song.

General Evening Post (22 February 1777).

B. W.


A pastoral lyric in five anapestic quatrains signed "B. W." The poet conducts his search in both town and country: "I will give the best lamb in my fold, | If you'll tell me which way 'tis she went; | I'd value not silver or gold; | All I wish for is beauteous CONTENT." The theme and manner of this pastoral is plainly adapted from John Cunningham's very popular "Content, a Pastoral" (1763). The General Evening Post came late to the fashion for pastoral ballad, but at this period was making up for lost time. This poem was reprinted in the Weekly Miscellany or Instructive Entertainer with the title "A Search after Content."



In vain my fond heart seeks for ease,
Nor ever, I fear, will have rest;
Not beauty, nor harmony please;
Sad care is corroding my breast.

The prospects that gladden the field
With many inspire the gay song;
But to me no such pleasure they yield;
When the heart's not at ease, all seems wrong.

I have stray'd through the city and town,
And enquired wherever I went;
Tell me, youths, (although I'm a clown)
Have ye seen such a lass as CONTENT?

"CONTENT, they replied, lives not here;
Go, shepherd, return home again;
Perhaps, with fair FREEDOM and EASE,
She carelessly sports on yon plain."

I will give the best lamb in my fold,
If you'll tell me which way 'tis she went;
I'd value not silver or gold;
All I wish for is beauteous CONTENT.

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