1795 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Delia; a Pastoral Ballad — in Four Parts.

Poems on Several Occasions. By the late Rev. Thomas Browne.

Rev. Thomas Browne


An imitation of Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad in thirty double-quatrain stanzas composed by a Yorkshire schoolteacher and journalist. The speaker is an innocent soul, unpracticed in love: "So careless of late I have grown, | I've unthinkingly broken my hook; | By a riv'let as late I sat down, | My scrip tumbled into the brook" p. 51. In the first part the speaker states his complaint; in the second he relates how he had met his fair while pursuing a stray lamb. The third part describes the rural felicities he has to offer: "O did she but choose to retire, | To those regions of pleasure serene, | She could not (I think) but admire, | The sweet rural charms of the scene" p. 59. In the fourth and concluding part the speaker is rejected for unspecified reasons, and he gives himself over to despair.



LOVE.
I no longer, as usual, can boast
Of an heart that's unfetter'd with care
All my wonted indiff'rence I've lost,
Since first I saw Delia the fair.
The first time I saw the sweet maid,
Like a bride look so blooming and gay,
Thrilling transports around my heart play'd,
But with Delia they vanish'd away.

'Twas from her I this pleasure received:
At length by experience I find,
Tho', indeed, I could scarce have believ'd,
Love e'er would have enter'd my mind:
For I oft thought that Poets had feign'd,
The soft tales they related of Love;
That the violence of passion was strain'd,
But, alas! quite mistaken I prove!

For no language can ever reveal,
Tho' drest with the Bard's utmost art,
The tumult of passions I feel,
Or the anguish that preys at my heart:
So careless of late I have grown,
I've unthinkingly broken my hook;
By a riv'let as late I sat down,
My scrip tumbled into the brook.

O'er the plains my poor lambkins now roam,
Unregarded their bleatings resound;
I ne'er bring the poor wanderers home,
But leave them all scatter'd around:
Thro' the vales, thro' the woodlands I stray,
Their beauties I've often admir'd,
Now I wander I care not which way,
And at night come home weary'd and tir'd,

Once how lovely the vale did appear,
What charms in each scene did I see;
Still the face of the vallies are fair,
But now they've no beauties for me,
Two turtles with pleasure I view'd,
As they sat on the quivering spray
Responsive they courted and coo'd—
But I now from the scene turn away.

For this anguish and pain I endure,
Can a remedy never be found?
Ah! no one this anguish can cure,
But she who inflicted the wound:
Yet if my complaint she wont hear,
The fruitless pursuit I'll give o'er;
From my bosom her image I'll tear,
And think of fair Delia no more.

But, alas! 'twill be labour in vain,
To attempt to forget that I love,
(Love will always it's empire regain)
'Tis too fast with my heart interwove!
Will the fair my petition disdain?
Will she turn with contempt from my sighs?
No; her heart is too soft to give pain,
Or I read a false tale in her eyes.

An aspect so mild can't conceal
In it's bosom an heart that's unkind,
For 'tis said that the eyes will reveal
The passion that rules in the mind;
Then I'll venture to hope she will hear,
With pity, the tale of her swain;
From my heart I will banish all fear,
And hie to her over the plain.


PART THE SECOND.
SOLICITUDE.
How perplexing a state is suspence;
How heaves my full bosom with care;
I can never expel it from hence,
Whilst suspended 'twixt hope and despair:
Should I fancy my fair may be kind,
I dare scarcely encourage the thought,
Or indulge the soft hope in my mind,
Since a frown may reduce it to nought.

Yet, alas! if I strive to repel,
By reflection the passion I feel,
My affections 'gainst reason rebel,
And love on my purpose will steal:
Something whispers and kindly imparts,
That our passion may mutual be
That a sympathy dwells in the hearts,
Those hearts that were born to agree.

As a loadstone the needle will draw,
Thus attractive's the influence of Love;
So I think — and I hope 'twill be so;
My complaint her kind pity will move:
Come hope thou sweet soother of grief,
Still thy pow'r so composing impart;
Ah, still pour thy balmy relief
On the anguish that preys on my heart!

How my heart palpitates if I see
Any maid tripping over the plain;
Then I wish it my Delia might be,
But, alas! my fond wishes are vain.
I met her, 'twas not long ago,
A week, 'tis I think, at the most,
Near her door, as I happen'd to go
To seek a stray lamb I had lost.

I had pluck'd a sweet nosegay of flow'rs,
And cull'd all the freshest and best
She prais'd them — I said they are yours;
She took them and pin'd to her breast:
Happy flowers! — then I thought and I sigh'd,
Might not I have that happiness too?
Could the fair one to me have deny'd
The place that she granted to you?

On my Delia's fond bosom reclin'd,
The world's empty grandeur I'd scorn;
No anguish could then pierce my mind,
Or care in my heart plant a thorn:
No! — cares to the winds I'd consign;
And but to taste rapture so sweet,
All the splendor of wealth I'd resign,
Or a crown if 'twas laid at my feet.

How greatly the hours I should prize,
In my Delia's Society blest,
If she kindly would pity my sighs,
Nor disdain to recline on my breast;
What transports could then equal mine!
Then wealth I'd leave, miser, to thee;
The sot might possess too his wine;
But give gentle Delia to me.

How much I their maxims despise,
Who tell us that Love's but a name;
That it never perplexes the wise,
And the foolish alone feel the flame:
Those cannot have hearts that say so,
Or tasteless of pleasure must prove,
And that too the chief, man can know
The rapturous pleasures of Love.


PART THE THIRD.
INVITATION.
O could I on Delia prevail,
Along with her swain to retire,
To the bow'r which I've rear'd in the vale,
I am sure she'd the prospect admire:
It is shelter'd behind from the cold,
By tall groves of the 'spiring fir tree;
In the front charming prospects unfold,
Sloping gradually down to the sea.

Gently murm'ring a rivulet glides,
In mazy meanders just by,
O'er hung with green sallows it's sides
(Beneath their cool shade one may lie);
And there as they playfully skim,
On the surface so limpid and clear,
You may see all the fishes that swim,
And their scales tipt with silver appear.

My herds range at large o'er the plains,
My Flocks clothe the valley with white,
Plenteous stores too my dairy contains,
From my cows drawn each morning and night;
Sweet melody reigns in my groves,
Such, I know, would delight her to hear;
The Linnets there warble their loves,
And the Blackbird sits whistling near.

The Goldfinch, the Lark, and the Thrush,
To make a sweet concert conspire;
The Redbreast too, from the thorn bush,
Joins his wild warbling note to the choir:
There too we may oftentimes see,
The nest of the wild Turtle-dove,
Where she builds in some ivy-bound tree,
Sweet emblem of conjugal love!

Sometimes on the beach we would walk,
When the waves gently break at our feet?
Beguiling the time with our talk—
And would not such converse be sweet?
Or else on the cliff top so high,
That juts o'er it's base to the main,
We would oft the tall vessels espy,
As they traverse the wide liquid plain.

Oft we'd sit on the sloping green hill,
Where it's sides are o'erspread with our flocks
Or rest on the bank near the rill,
That gurgling rolls down from the rocks:
O did she but choose to retire,
To those regions of pleasure serene,
She could not (I think) but admire,
The sweet rural charms of the scene.

When every things smiling around,
When every thing's festive and gay,
In what heart can a murmur be found,
Or the least discontent ever stay:
Nought but scenes of soft pleasure are here,
And nought else e'er appears to the sight;
Yet these pleasures would Delia but share,
It would doubly increase their delight.


PART THE FOURTH.
REJECTION.
Go my flock where ye list on the plain,
And leave your fond shepherd to weep;
I shall never be able again
To guide your stray steps, my poor sheep:
Ah do not your shepherd reprove,
That he leaves you untended to stray;
Ere his heart felt the anguish of Love,
He was never once out of the way.

There was once that you never could stray,
That you never untended could roam,
For I constantly watch'd you all day,
And at nightfall I gathered you home;
Ah! that happiness lost now I mourn,
I those days once so tranquil deplore,
They are past, and will never return,
I, alas! shall be happy no more.

So sweetly my Delia then smil'd,
Her soft eyes spoke the language of Love,
And, alas! my fond heart she beguil'd,
Nor could I resist if I'd strove:
Why does Love such soft wishes impart?
Why plant in our bosoms desire?
Yet his influence confine to one heart,
And not mutual impressions inspire.

O ye Zephyrs attend to my lay,
Ah! waft these sad sighs to my dear;
Ye gales on your wings, ah! convey
My complaints to my Delia's ear:
Ah tell her I constantly mourn,
Ah tell her what anguish and pain
I feel till she bid me return,
And indulge my fond hopes once again.

But, alas! 'tis too true, I have heard
Her reject all my vows with disdain;
When my suit I so warmly preferr'd
She told me that suit was in vain:
Now I wander alone through the grove,
Quite forlorn and dejected I stray,
Since Delia has slighted my Love,
Since Delia's rejected my lay.

How I shrunk at the sentence severe,
When I hop'd the reward of my pain!
Ah! the sound still vibrates on my ear,
Which told me my suit was in vain!
I could not once lift up my eyes,
From her sight, as I silent withdrew;
My voice was so choak'd with my sighs,
I scarcely could bid her adieu.

I will hie to your shades — lonely woods,
Kindred glooms may invite to repose;
Heave your billows — ye turbulent floods!
My bosom thus heaves with my woes:
Ah still in your shades I shall sigh!
Still my sorrows will follow me there!
Hope, adieu! — for wherever I fly
My attendants are grief and despair.

[pp. 50-63]