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Is it not Colinet I lonesome see,
Leaning with folded arms against the tree?
Or is it age, of late, bedims my sight?—
"Tis Colinet, indeed, in woful plight.
Thy cloudy look, why melting into tears,
Unseemly, now the sky so bright appears?
Why in this mournful manner art thou found,
Unthankful lad, when all things smile around?
Or hear'st not lark and linnet jointly sing,
Their notes blithe-warbling to salute the spring?
Though blithe their notes, not so my wayward fate;
Nor lark would sing, nor linnet, in my state.
Each creature, Thenot, to his task is born,
As they to mirth and music, I to mourn.
Waking, at midnight, I my woes renew,
My tears oft mingling with the falling dew.
Small cause, I ween, has lusty youth to plain:
Or, who may then, the weight of eld sustain,
When every slackening nerve begins to fail,
And the load presseth as our days prevail?
Yet, though with years my body downward tend,
As trees beneath their fruit, in autumn bend;
Spite of my snowy head, and icy veins,
My mind a cheerful temper still retains ;
And why should man, mishap what will, repine,
Sour every sweet, and mix with tears his wine?
But tell me, then: it may relieve thy woe,
To let a friend thine inward ailment know.
Idly 'twill waste thee, Thenot, the whole day, Shouldst thou give ear to all my grief can say. Thine ewes will wander; and the heedless lambs, In loud complaints, require their absent dams.
See Lightfoot, he shall tend them close: and I, "Tween whiles, across the plain will glance mine eye.
Where to begin I know not, where to end:
Doth there one smiling hour my youth attend?
Though few my days, as well my follies show,
Yet are those days all clouded o'er with woe:
No happy gleam of sunshine doth appear,
My lowering sky, and wintry months, to cheer.
My piteous plight in yonder naked tree,
Which bears the thunder-scar, too plain I see :
Quite destitute it stands of shelter kind,
The mark of storms, and sport of every wind:
The riven trunk feels not the' approach of spring,
Nor birds among the leafless branches sing:
No more, beneath thy shade, shall shepherds
With jocund tale, or pipe, or pleasing song.
Ill-fated tree! and more ill-fated I!
From thee, from me, alike the shepherds fly.
Sure thou in hapless hour of time wast born,
When blighting mildews spoil the rising corn,
Or blasting winds o'er blossom'd hedge-rows pass,
To kill the promised fruits, and scorch the grass,
Or when the moon, by wizard charm'd, foreshows,
Blood-stain'd in foul eclipse, impending woes.
Untimely born, ill-luck betides thee still.
And can there, Thenot, be a greater ill!
Nor fox, nor wolf, nor rot among our sheep,
From this good shepherd's care his flock may keep:
Against ill-luck, alas! all forecast fails;
Nor toil by day, nor watch by night, avails.
Ah me, the while! ah me, the luckless day!
Ah, luckless lad! befits me more to say.
Unhappy hour! when, fresh in youthful bud,
I left, Sabrina fair, thy silvery flood.
Ah, silly I! more silly than my sheep,
Which on thy flowery banks I wont to keep.
Sweet are thy banks! Oh, when shall I, once more,
With ravish'd eyes review thine amell'd shore !
When in the crystal of thy water, scan
Each feature faded, and my colour wan
When shall I see my hut, the small abode
Myself did raise, and cover o'er with sod?
Small though it be, a mean and humble cell,
Yet is there room for peace and me to dwell.
And what enticement charm'd thee, far away From thy loved home, and led thy heart astray?
A lewd desire, strange lads and swains to know: Ah, God! that ever I should covet woe!
With wandering feet unbless'd, and fond of fame, I sought I know not what besides a name.
Or sooth to say, didst thou not hither roam
In search of gains more plenty than at home?
A rolling-stone is, ever, bare of moss;
And to their cost, green years old proverbs cross.
Small need there was, in random search of gain,
To drive my pining flock athwart the plain,
To distant Cam. Fine gain at length, I trow,
To hoard up to myself such deal of woe!
My sheep quite spent, through travel and ill-fare,
And, like their keeper, ragged grown and bare;
The damp, cold greensward, for my nightly bed,
And some slant willow's trunk to rest my head.
Hard is to bear of pinching cold the pain;
And hard is want to the unpractised swain:
But neither want, nor pinching cold, is hard,
To blasting storms of calumny compared!
Unkind as hail it falls: the pelting shower
Destroys the tender herb, and budding flower.
Slander, we shepherds count the vilest wrong:
And what wounds sorer than an evil tongue?
Untoward lads, the wanton imps of spite,
Make mock of all the ditties I indite.
In vain, O Colinet, thy pipe, so shrill,
Charms every vale, and gladdens every hill;
In vain thou seek'st the coverings of the grove,
In the cool shade to sing the pains of love:
Sing what thou wilt, ill-nature will prevail;
And every elf hath skill enough to rail.
But yet, though poor and artless be my vein,
Menalcas seems to like my simple strain :
And while that he delighteth in my song,
Which to the good Menalcas doth belong,
Nor night, nor day, shall my rude music cease;
I ask no more, so I Menalcas please.
Menalcas, lord of these fair fertile plains,
Preserves the sheep, and o'er the shepherds reigns:
For him our yearly wakes and feasts we hold,
And choose the fairest firstling from the fold:
He, good to all who good deserve, shall give
Thy flock to feed, and thee at ease to live;
Shall curb the malice of unbridled tongues,
And bounteously reward thy rural songs.
First, then, shall lightsome birds forget to fly,
The briny ocean turn to pastures dry,
And every rapid river cease to flow,
Ere I unmindful of Menalcas grow.
This night thy care with me forget; and fold Thy flock with mine, to ward the' injurious cold.