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The Shepherd's Week : Thursday; or, The Spell

John Gay 1685 – 1732



Hobnelia.
Hobnelia, seated in a dreary vale,
In pensive mood rehears'd her piteous tale,
Her piteous tale the wind in sighs bemoan,
And pining echo answers groan for groan.
I rue the day, a rueful day I trow,
The woful day, a day indeed of wo!
When Lubberkin to town his cattle drove,
A maiden fine bedight he hap'd to love;
The maiden fine bedight his love retains,
And for the village he forsakes the plains.
Return, my Lubberkin, these ditties hear;
Spells will I try, and spells shall ease my care.
'With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.'
When first the year, I heard the cuckoo sing,
And call with welcome note the budding spring,
I straightway set a running with such haste,
Deborah that won the smock scarce ran so fast.
'Till spent for lack of breath quite weary grown,
Upon a rising bank I sat adown,
Then doff'd my shoe, and by my troth I swear,
Therein I spy'd this yellow frizzled hair,
As like to Lubberkin's in curl and hue,
As if upon his comely pate it grew.
'With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.'
At eve last midsummer no sleep I sought,
But to the field a bag of hemp-seed brought,
I scatter'd round the seed on every side,
And three times in a trembling accent cried,
'This hemp-seed with my virgin hand I sow,
Who shall my true-love be, the crop shall mow.'
I straight look'd back, and if my eyes speak truth,
With his keen scythe behind me came the youth.
'With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.'
Last Valentine, the day when birds of kind
Their paramours with mutual chirpings find;
I rearly rose, just at the break of day,
Before the sun had chas'd the stars away,
A-field I went, amid the morning dew,
To milk my kine (for so should huswifes do)
Thee first I spy'd, and the first swain we see,
In spite of fortune shall our true-love be;
See, Lubberkin, each bird his partner take,
And canst thou then thy sweet-hear dear forsake?
'With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.'
Last May-day fair I search'd to find a snail
That might my secret lover's name reveal;
Upon a gooseberry bush a snail I found,
For always snails near sweetest fruit abound.
I seiz'd the vermin, home I quickly sped,
And on the hearth the milk-white embers spread
Slow crawl'd the snail, and if I right can spell,
In the soft ashes mark'd a curious L :
Oh, may this wondrous omen lucky prove!
For L is found in Lubberkin and Love.
'With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.'
Two hazel-nuts I threw into the flame,
And to each nut I gave a sweet-heart's name.
This with the loudest bounce me sore amaz'd,
That in a flame of brightest colour blaz'd.
As blaz'd the nut, so may thy passion grow,
For 'twas thy nut that did so brightly glow.
'With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.'
As peascods once I pluck'd, I chanc'd to see
One that was closely fill'd with three times three,
Which when I crop'd I safely home convey'd,
And o'er the door the spell in secret laid,
My wheel I turn'd, and sung a ballad new,
While from the spindle I the fleeces drew;
The latch mov'd up, when who should first come in,
But in his proper person - Lubberkin.
I broke my yarn, surpris'd the sight to see,
Sure sign that he would break his word with me.
Eftsoons I join'd it with my wonted slight,
So may again his love with mine unite!
'With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.'
This lady-fly I take from off the grass,
Whose spotted back might scarlet red surpass.
'Fly, lady-bird, North, South, or East, or West,
Fly where the man is found that I love best.'
He leaves my hand, see to the West he's flown,
To call my true-love from the faithless town.
'With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.'
I pare this pippin round and round again,
My shepherd's name to flourish on the plain,
I fling the unbroken paring o'er my head,
Upon the grass a perfect L is read;
Yet on my heart a fairer L is seen
Than what the paring makes upon the green.
'With my sharp heel I three times mark the ground,
And turn me thrice around, around, around.'
This pippin shall another trial make,
See from the core two kernels brown I take;
This on my cheek for Lubberkin's is worn,
And Boobyclod soon drops upon th
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:21 min read
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John Gay

John Gay, a cousin of the poet John Gay, was an English philosopher, biblical scholar and Church of England clergyman. more…

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