1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Pastoral Ballad.

Columbian Herald or, the New Daily Advertiser (10 March 1796).

Gavin Turnbull


An imitation of Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad in ten double-quatrain stanzas "by Mr. Turnbull, of the Church-street Theatre." As was conventional, the poet warns his Myra against the deceitful ways of city lovers and sings the blessings of an impoverished but innocent life: "With me to my cottage retire, | Unburden'd with treasure or wealth; | Let love all our pleasures inspire, | And live in contentment and health." The poem is presented as "selected poetry," probably indicating that it had appeared in Turnbull's Poems (1794), published before he emigrated to Charleston from Scotland.



PART I.
O Myra! attend to the lay
Which Corydon sings in the shade,
To pass the dull moments away,
The Muses are Corydon's aid:
They teach him to play on the reed;
Much wealth he can never obtain,
Yet, careless of that, he can feed
His flocks, and the trifle disdain.

At the bottom of yonder green hill,
'Mongst woodlands so charming and sweet,
By the side of a murmuring rill
Stands Corydon's rural retreat:
No pompous appearance or shew
This lowly retirement can boast;
To nature its beauties I owe,
And nature delights me the most.

The landscape is lovely around,
The riv'lets glide gently along,
Attend to the musical sound
Of the wood-lark and nightingale's song:
The bleating of sheep from the hill,
The humming of bees from their cell,
Amuse me with melody still,
Such melody nought can excel.

Sweet peace and simplicity join'd,
Preside o'er the cottage alone;
The thoughts that we have in our mind,
Compar'd with our actions, are one:
The smile that is form'd to ensnare,
Let the belles of the city approve;
Of such, Oh! dear Myra, beware,
Nor think them the language of love.

Contentment attends me all day,
A nymph unrepining and free,
Who lodges with none but the gay;
She smiles on my labours and me.
Be grateful, my charmer, and smile,
A tribute that's due to thy swain,
Who ne'er can be happy the while,
If Myra his passion disdain.

PART II.
You'll say that you doubt if I love;
From whence can such fancies arise?
If words are too languid to prove,
'Tis seen in the glance of mine eyes.
Believe me, thou charmer divine,
These vallies can witness my pain,
The streams join their murmurs with mine,
And the echoes have learn'd to complain.

I walk by the whispering grove,
Where the zephyrs sound soft through the spray;
I mourn with the amorous dove,
And join the sweet nightingale's lay:
These sounds are so pensively sweet,
That mirth seems unpleasant to me;
I'd leave the fond thought with regret
Of indulging a passion for thee.

I lie by the verge of the stream,
Whose murmurs oft lull me to rest;
I court the kind flattering dream,
To lay me supine on thy breast:
I wake and I fold thee in vain,
The shade is too subtile to keep;
I foolishly doat in my pain,
And find it a pleasure to weep.

The beauties that wait on the spring,
The flow'r and the fair budding tree;
The Joys that the summer can bring,
Are tasteless when absent from thee:
The warblers that sing from the grove,
In vain doth their melody flow;
But when with the maid that I love,
'Tis enchantment wherever I go.

I covet no jewels nor gold;
The rich I unenvied can see;
No treasure on earth I behold,
No jewel so precious as thee.
With me to my cottage retire,
Unburden'd with treasure or wealth;
Let love all our pleasures inspire,
And live in contentment and health.

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