1786
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Absence. A Pastoral.

Charleston Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (21 January 1786).

Anonymous


A lover's complaint in six double-quatrain stanzas, not signed. The poet bemoans the cruelty of Anna, who has deprived him of his former happiness. While the conventions are otherwise closely followed, this swain is somewhat unusual in tending vines as well as sheep: "My flocks they all carelessly stray, | My pipe and my crook I resign; | On the ground now in ruin doth lay | The boughs of my fruitfullest vine." The Charleston Morning Post does not claim this as an original.



Why heaves my fond breast with a sigh?
Why thus do I pensively stray?
Why droops the pale tear from my eye,
And my heart so unequally play?
There liv'd not (of late) on the plain,
A shepherd more blythe or more gay;
Or their pipe with more art tun'd a strain,
Or spent with more pleasure the day.

Each morning how gaily I rose,
At eve sunk contented to rest,
Not a sigh did my bosom disclose,
Nor harboured a care in my breast;
The day then was spent on the green,
My flocks and the sports to attend,
But ah! now, how chang'd is the scene,
Content is no longer my friend.

Since Anna the fair I beheld,
How dreary the time I have known;
From my breast ev'ry joy is expell'd,
And I live but to weep and to moan.
Ah! hapless the day that she came,
Thus cruel so soon to retire,
To light in my bosom a flame,
Then leave unregarded the fire.

The morn that erst used to please,
No more now with joy do I meet;
And the night, which afforded me ease,
Now ceases the gift to repeat;
My flocks they all carelessly stray,
My pipe and my crook I resign;
On the ground now in ruin doth lay
The boughs of my fruitfullest vine.

I quit the dull sports of the green,
They serve but my pain to increase,
'Twas there the dear object was seen,
That stole from my bosom its peace.
Ah! chide me not, shepherds, forbear,
Tho' neglected my vines and my sheep,
Nor blame me, if drove to despair,
I unman me so much as to weep.

As I steal thro' the gloom of the grove,
Where often her footsteps I've trac'd,
Or pensively think as I rove
On the plain that my fair one once grac'd:
What sensations arise in my mind?
In my bosom what anguish rage?
So strongly her form is design'd,
All my soul the dear thought doth engage.

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