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tragic poems, by the vehemency of their emotions, raise the spirits into a ferment.
To view a fair stately palace, strikes us indeed with admiration, and swells the soul with notions of grandeur: but when I see a little country dwelling, advantageously situated amidst a beautiful variety of hills, meadows, fields, woods, and rivulets, I feel an unspeakable sort of satisfaction, and cannot forbear wishing my kinder fortune would place me in such a sweet retirement.
Theocritus, Virgil, and Spenser, are the only poets who seem to have hit upon the true nature of pastoral compositions: so that it will be sufficient praise for me, if I have not altogether failed in my attempt.
IF we, O Dorset, quit the city throng,
To meditate in shades the rural song,
By your command, be present; and, O bring
The Muse along! The Muse to you shall sing:
Her influence, Buckhurst, let me there obtain,
And I forgive the famed Sicilian swain.
Begin. In unluxurious times of yore, When flocks and herds were no inglorious store, Lobbin, a shepherd-boy, one evening fair, As western winds had cool'd the sultry air, His number'd sheep within the fold now pent, Thus plain'd him of his dreary discontent; Beneath a hoary poplar's whispering boughs, He, solitary, sat to breathe his vows, Venting the tender anguish of his heart, As passion taught, in accents free of art:
And little did he hope, while night by night
His sighs were lavish'd thus on Lucy bright:
Ah, well-a-day! how long must I endure
This pining pain, or who shall speed my cure?
Fond love no cure will have, seek no repose,
Delights in grief, nor any measure knows:
And now the moon begins in clouds to rise;
The brightening stars increase within the skies;
The winds are hush; the dews distil; and sleep
Hath closed the eyelids of my weary sheep:
I only, with the prowling wolf, constrain'd
All night to wake: with hunger he is pain'd,
And I with love. His hunger he may tame;
But who can quench, O cruel Love, thy flame?
Whilom did I, all as this poplar fair,
Upraise my heedless head, then void of care,
'Mong rustic routs the chief of wanton game:
Nor could they merry make, till Lobbin came.
Who better seen than I in shepherd's arts,
To please the lads, and win the lasses' hearts!
How deftly, to mine oaten-reed so sweet,
Wont they, upon the green to shift their feet!
And, wearied in the dance, how would they yearn
Some well-devised tale from me to learn!
For many songs and tales of mirth had I,
To chase the loitering sun adown the sky:
But, ah! since Lucy coy, deep-wrought her spite
Within my heart, unmindful of delight,
The jolly grooms I fly, and, all alone,
To rocks and woods forth
Oh! quit thy wonted scorn, relentless fair!
Ere, lingering long, I perish through despair.
Had Rosalind been mistress of my mind, ́[kind.
Though not so fair, she would have proved more
O think, unwitting maid, while yet is time,
How flying years impair thy youthful prime!
Thy virgin-bloom will not for ever stay,
And flowers, though left ungather'd, will decay:
The flowers, anew, returning seasons bring;
But beauty faded has no second spring.
My words are wind! She, deaf to all my cries,
Takes pleasure in the mischief of her eyes.
Like frisking heifer, loose in flowery meads,
She gads where'er her roving fancy leads;
Yet still from me. Ah me, the tiresome chase!
Shy as the fawn, she flies my fond embrace.
She flies, indeed, but ever leaves behind,
Fly where she will, her likeness in my mind.
No cruel purpose, in my speed, I bear;
'Tis only love; and love why shouldst thou fear?
What idle fears a maiden-breast alarm!
Stay, simple girl: a lover cannot harm.
Two sportive kidlings, both fair-fleck'd, I rear;
Whose shooting horns like tender buds appear:
A lambkin too, of spotless fleece, I breed,
And teach the fondling from my hand to feed:
Nor will I cease betimes to cull the fields
Of every dewy sweet the morning yields:
From early spring to autumn late shalt thou
Receive gay girlonds, blooming o'er thy brow:
And when-But why these unavailing pains?
The gifts alike and giver she disdains:
And now, left heiress of the glen, she'll deem
Me, landless lad, unworthy her esteem:
Yet, was she born, like me, of shepherd-sire;
And I may fields and lowing herds acquire.
O! would my gifts but win her wanton heart,
Or could I half the warmth I feel impart,
How would I wander, every day, to find
The choice of wildings, blushing through the rind!
For glossy plums how lightsome climb the tree,
How risk the vengeance of the thrifty bee!
Or, if thou deign to live a shepherdess,
Thou Lobbin's flock, and Lobbin, shalt possess:
And, fair my flock, nor yet uncomely I,
If liquid fountains flatter not; and why
Should liquid fountains flatter us, yet show [grow?
The bordering flowers less beauteous than they
O! come, my love; nor think the' employment mean,
The dams to milk, and little lambkins wean;
To drive a-field, by morn, the fattening ewes,
Ere the warm sun drink up the cooly dews;
While, with my pipe, and with my voice, I cheer
Each hour, and through the day detain thine ear.
How would the crook beseem thy lily-hand!
How would my younglings round thee gazing stand!
Ah, witless younglings! gaze not on her eye:
Thence all my sorrow; thence the death I die.
O, killing beauty! and O, sore desire!
Must then my sufferings but with life expire?
Though blossoms every year the trees adorn,
Spring after spring I wither, nipp'd with scorn:
Nor trow I when this bitter blast will end,
Or if yon stars will e'er my vows befriend.
Sleep, sleep, my flock; for happy ye may take
Sweet nightly rest, though still your master wake.'
Now to the waning moon, the nightingale,
In slender warblings, tuned her piteous tale;
The love-sick shepherd, listening, felt relief,
Pleased with so sweet a partner in his grief,
Till by degrees her notes and silent night
To slumbers soft his heavy heart invite.