1805
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral.

Port Folio 5 (10 August 1805) 241.

R. Shallow


A burlesque pastoral ballad signed "R. Shallow" in ten anapestic quatrains. This Philadelphia poet pokes fun at the pastoral ballad genre, with a glace at the old strictures on local impropriety: "And though in our forests no lark | Or nightingale e'er spread his wings, | Have I not, when I heard her, cried 'hark! | 'Tis a lark or a nightingale sings!'" The lines are prefaced with several paragraphs ridiculing this "London" genre, concluding: "But to come to an end as soon as possible, (for which I am sure, Mr. S. you will be much obliged to me) I present you the following poem, with all the irregularity of eight, nine, and ten syllable lines, which are so much admired by modern English shepherds" p. 241. The poem is prefaced with an epigraph misquoted from Spenser's Januarye: "All as the sheep, such was the shepherd's look | And thus he plained."



Ah! why should the nymph who enslaves
My heart, be thus deaf to my moans?
She heeds not, though rocks, woods and caves
I tire, to death, with my groans.

Have I not, as a shepherd became,
Declar'd to that dearest of dears,
That my bosom was all in a flame,
Which I could not put out with my tears?

Have I not with those tears swell'd each stream,
To shew the excess of my sorrow?
Have I not said that life was a dream,
Which scarcely could last 'till to-morrow?

Have I not said, my heart by her eyes
Was mangled and torn till it bled?
And though she might still hear my sighs,
I was truly and honestly dead?

That wolves at her song grow quite tame?
That rivers flow back to their sources?
That each forest and rock you can name,
Rejoices whene'er she discourses?

And though in our forests no lark
Or nightingale e'er spread his wings,
Have I not, when I heard her, cried "hark!
'Tis a lark or a nightingale sings!"

Have I not cried alack! and alas!
By a sweet purling streamlet a lying,
And she look'd, and she sigh'd, I may say,
All as one just as if she was dying;

Didn't I help her so gently to rise?
Though softly she whisper'd no, no!
And blush'd! — I could tell by her eyes,
That she wanted her shepherd to go.

Ah me! while her heart's such a rock,
For swains with their pipes, a whole throng,
And for gout-footed Pan a whole flock,
I'd not give, ye shepherds, a song!

[p. 241]