The Shepherd's Week/Third Pastoral

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4040946The Shepherd's Week — Third PastoralJohn Gay




THE wailings of a maiden I recite,
A maiden fair, that Sparabella hight,
Such strains ne'er warble in the linnets throat,
Nor the gay goldfinch chaunts so sweet a note,
No magpye chatter'd, nor the painted jay,[2] 5
No Ox was heard to low, nor Ass to bray.
No rustling breezes play'd the leaves among,
While thus her madrigal the damsel sung.
-->A while, O D'Urfy, lend an ear or twain,[3]
Nor, though in homely guise, my verse disdain; 10
Whether thou seek'st new kingdoms in the sun,[4]
Whether thy muse does at New-market run,
Or does with gossips at a feast regale,
And heighten her conceits with sack and ale,
Or else at wakes with Joan and Hodge rejoice, 15
Where Durfy's lyricks swell in every voice;
Yet suffer me, thou bard of wondr'ous meed,[5]
Amid thy bays to wave this rural weed.[6]
Now the sun drove adown the western road,
And oxen laid at rest forget the goad, 20
The clown fatigu'd trudg'd homeward with his spade,
Across the meadows stretch'd the lengthen'd shade;
When Sparabella pensive and forlorn,
Alike with yearning love and labour worn,
Lean'd on her rake, and strait with doleful guise[7] 25
Did this sad plaint in moanful notes devise.
Come night as dark as pitch, surround my head,
From Sparabella Bumkinet is fled;
The ribbon that his val'rous cudgel won,
Last Sunday happier Clumsilis put on. 30
Sure, if he'd eyes (but love, they say, has none)
I whilome by that ribbon had been known.
Ah, well-a-day! I'm shent[8] with baneful smart,
For with the ribbon he bestow'd his heart.
My plaint, ye lasses, with this burthen aid, 35
'Tis hard so true a damsel dies a maid.
Shall heavy Clumsilis with me compare![9]
View this, ye lovers, and like me despair.
Her blubber'd lip by smutty pipes is worn,
And in her breath tobacco whiffs are born; 40
The cleanly cheese-press she could never turn,
Her awkward fist did ne'er employ the churn;
If e'er she brew'd, the drink wou'd sirait go sour,
Before it ever felt the thunder's pow'r:
No houswifery the dowdy creature knew; 45
To sum up all, her tongue confess'd the shrew.
My plaint, ye lasses, with this burthen aid,
'Tis hard so true a damsel dies a maid.
I've often seen my visage in yon lake,[10]
Nor are my features of the homeliest make. 50
Though Clumsilis may boast a whiter dye,
Yet the black sloe turns in my rolling eye;
And fairest blossoms drop with ev'ry blast,[11]
But the brown beauty will like hollies last.
Her wan complexion's like the wither'd leek, 55
While Katharine pears adorn my ruddy cheek.
Yet she, alas! the witless lout hath won,
And by her gain, poor Sparabell's undone!
Let hares and hounds in coupling straps unite,[12]
The clocking hen make friendship with the kite, 60
Let the fox simply wear the nuptial noose,
And join in wedlock with the wadling goose;
For love hath brought a stranger thing to pass,
The fairest shepherd weds the foulest lass.
My plaint, ye lasses, with this burthen aid, 65
'Tis hard so true a damsel dies a maid.
Sooner shall cats disport in waters clear,[13]
And speckled mackrels graze the meadows fair,
Sooner shall scriech-owls bask in sunny day,
And the slow ass on trees, like squirrels, play, 70
Sooner shall snails on insect pinions rove,
Then I forget my shepherd's wonted love!
My plaint, ye lasses, with this burthen aid,
'Tis hard so true a damsel dies a maid.
Ah! didst thou know what profers I withstood,
When late I met the squire in yonder wood! 76
To me he sped, regardless of his game,
While all my cheek was glowing red with shame;
My lip he kiss'd, and prais'd my healthful look,
Then from his purse of silk a guinea took, 80
Into my hand he forc'd the tempting gold,
While I with modest struggling broke his hold.
He swore that Dick in liv'ry strip'd with lace,
Should wed me soon to keep me from disgrace;
But I nor footman priz'd nor golden fee, 85
For what is lace or gold compar'd to thee?
My plaint, ye lasses, with this burthen aid,
'Tis hard so true a damsel dies a maid.
Now plain I ken[14] whence Love his rise begun.
Sure he was born some bloody butcher's son, 90
Bred up in shambles, where our younglings slain,
Erst taught him mischief and to sport with pain.
The father only silly sheep annoys,
The son, the sillier shepherdess destroys.
Does son or father greater mischief do? 95
The fire is cruel, so the son is too.
My plaint, ye lasses, with this burthen aid,
'Tis hard so true a damsel dies a maid.
Farewel, ye woods, ye meads, ye streams that flow;[15]
A sudden death shall rid me of my woe, 100
This penknife keen my windpipe shall divide.——
What, shall I fall as squeaking pigs have dy'd?
No ——— To some Tree this carcase I'll suspend ——
But worrying curs find such untimely end!
I'll speed me to the pond, where the high stool 10
On the long plank hangs o'er the muddy pool,
That stool, the dread of ev'ry scolding Quean ——
Yet, sure a lover should not dye so mean!
There plac'd aloft, I'll rave and rail by fits,
Though all the parish say I've lost my wits; 110
And thence, if courage holds, my self I'll throw,
And quench my passion in the lake below.
Ye lasses, cease your burthen, cease to moan,
And, by my case forewarn'd, go mind your own.
The sun was set; the night came on a-pace, 115
And falling dews bewet around the place,
The bat takes airy rounds on leathern wings,
And the hoarse owl his woeful dirges sings;
The prudent maiden deems it now too late,
And 'til to morrow comes, defers her fate. 120

  1. Dumps, or Dumbs, made use of to express a fit of the sullens. Some have pretended that it is derived from Dumops a king of Egypt, that built a pyramid and dy'd of melancholy. So Mopes after the same manner, is thought to have come from Merops another Egyptian king, that dy'd of the same distemper; but our English antiquaries have conjectur'd, that dumps, which is, a grievous heaviness of spirits, comes from the word dumplin, the heaviest kind of pudding that is eaten in this country, much used in Norfolk, and other counties of England.
  2. L. 5. Immemor Herbarum quos est mirata juvenca
    Certantes quorum stupefactæ carmine Lynces;
    Et mutata suos requierunt flumina cursus.Virg.

  3. Line 9. Tu mihi seu magni superas jam saxa Timavi.
    Sive oram Illyrici legis æquoris———

  4. 11. An opera written by this author, called the World in the Sun, or the Kingdom of Birds; he is also famous for his song on the New-market horse-race, and several others that are sung by the British swains.
  5. 17. Meed, an old word for fame or renown.
  6. 18. ——Hanc sine tempora circum
    Inter victrices ederam tibi serpere lauros.

  7. 25. Incumbens tereti Damon sic cæpit Olivæ.
  8. Line 33 Shent, an old word, signifying hurt or harmed.
  9. 37 Mopso Nisa datur, quid non speremus Amantes?
  10. 49 Nec sum adeo informis, nuper me in Littore vidi.
  11. 53 Alba ligustra cadunt, vaccinia nigra leguntur.
  12. Line 59Jungentur jam Gryphes equis; ævoque sequenti
    Cum canibus timidi venient ad pocula Damæ.Virg.

  13. 67Ante leves ergo pascentur in aethere Cervi
    Et freta destituent nudos in littore Pisces ——
    Quam nostro illius labatur pectore vultus.Virg.

  14. Line 89. To Ken, scire Chaucero, to ken; and kende notus. A. S. cunnan. Goth. kunnan. Germanis kennen. Danis kiende. Islandis kunna. Belgis kennen. This word is of general use, but not very common, though not unknown to the vulgar. Ken for prospicere is well known, and used to discover by the eye. Ray. F.R S.
    Nunc scio quid sit Amor, &c
    Crudelis mater magis an puer improbus ille?
    Improbus ille puer, crudelis tu quoque mater.

  15. 99.——————————vivite Sylvæ.
    Præceps aerii specula de montis in undas