1767
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Ballad.

Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (24 September 1767).

Anonymous


A pastoral ballad in twenty anapestic quatrains, not signed. After complaining bitterly of Sylvia's perfidy, Damon falls asleep by the side of a fountain. At daybreak the next morning Sylvia makes an appearance while her swain is still fast asleep, and unburdens her heart: "Too well, cried the fair, do I know, | Too well why that bosom's oppress'd; | That my falshood that caus'd the fond woe, | Though thou sleep'st will not let thee have rest." Damon awakens, and the rest follows in course.



The shepherds had penn'd in their sheep,
And night spread a gloom on the plain;
When Damon, a stranger to sleep,
Told Eccho the cause of his pain.

And thus on his woes would he dwell,
That Sylvia had stol'n his fond heart,
That he lov'd her, alas! but too well,
For that she was acquainted with art.

And the vows that she made yestermorn,
Today she thought nothing to break,
Tho' truth seem'd that hour to be born
When she vow'd she so sweetly did speak.

O hide me ye shades, would he cry;
Your deepest recesses I'll find;
Yet wherefore or why should I fly,
While I bear thus a heart and a mind?

Can the gloom of yon moss-woven cave
Drive Sylvia's idea away?
Or any retreat but the grave,
These pains or this anguish allay?

Can the riv'lets, my former delight,
That murmur so sweet as they roll?
Or these woods or this stillness of night,
Calm the tumult that slackens my soul?

O no! all endeavours are vain
To ease the fond pangs I endure;
And she who inflicted the pains,
Alone can prescribe me a cure.

Too well I remember she was
The rarest among the most rare;
But that very remembrance, alas!
Involves me in keener despair.

Then near to the fountain he drew,
Oppress'd and o'erpower'd with grief;
And sleep that the guilty ne'er knew,
Afforded him timely relief.

By now had the face of the east,
With streaks to be crimson'd begun,
And forth in his gay mantle dress'd,
Walk'd gallantly forward, the sun.

And now 'twas that Sylvia had stray'd,
In pursuit of some vagrant sheep,
'Till she came to where Damon was laid,
Supine on the border asleep.

To the border she softly drew nigh,
And while Damon dreamt of his pain,
And sent forth a passionate sigh,
She eccho'd the sigh back again.

"Too well, cried the fair, do I know,
Too well why that bosom's oppress'd;
That my falshood that caus'd the fond woe,
Though thou sleep'st will not let thee have rest.

"But who shall inform the sweet youth,
In my heart which no power can move,
There lives yet a spark of pure truth
That may kindle and brighten to love.

"Ah, Sylvia! no longer stand mute,
Thyself these sweet truths thou should'st tell;
To no boldness the swain can impute
What he wishes — he loves thee too well.

"Ye chastest of Virtue's fair train,
Say, ought ye to take it amiss,
If now I dispell his fond pain,
And wake him to joy with a kiss.

"But soft, he prevents me, he wakes;
Lie still my poor fluttering heart;
Ah, Damon! 'tis Sylvia that speaks,
That tells thee no more we shall part."

The criminal fearing his fate,
Unexpected, that meets a reprieve,
Alone can the bosom elate,
Of Damon that instant conceive.

He felt, more than ever, her charms,
While she, with a conscious delight,
Received the dear youth in her arms,
And of constancy plight followed plight.

No longer the fair was unkind;
No longer unhappy the youth;
He gave all his cares to the wind,
And she was all sweetness and truth.

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