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A Pastoral Ballad I: Absence

William Shenstone 1714 (Halesowen) – 1763 (Halesowen)



Arbusta humilesque myricæ. Virg.

Ye shepherds so chearful and gay,
Whose flocks never carelessly roam;
Should Corydon's happen to stray,
Oh! call the poor wanderers home.
Allow me to muse and to sigh,
Nor talk of the change that ye find;
None once was so watchful as I;
-- I have left my dear Phyllis behind.
Now I know what it is, to have strove
With the torture of doubt and desire;

What it is, to admire and to love,
And to leave her we love and admire.
Ah lead forth my flock in the morn,
And the damps of each ev'ning repel;
Alas! I am faint and forlorn:
-- I have bade my dear Phyllis farewel.
Since Phyllis vouchsaf'd me a look,
I never once dreamt of my vine;
May I lose both my pipe and my crook,
If I knew of a kid that was mine.

I priz'd every hour that went by,
Beyond all that had pleas'd me before;
But now they are past, and I sigh;
And I grieve that I priz'd them no more.
But why do I languish in vain;
Why wander thus pensively here?
Oh! why did I come from the plain,
Where I fed on the smiles of my dear?
They tell me, my favourite maid,
The pride of that valley, is flown;

Alas! where with her I have stray'd,
I could wander with pleasure, alone.
When forc'd the fair nymph to forego,
What anguish I felt at my heart!
Yet I thought -- but it might not be so --
'Twas with pain that she saw me depart.
She gaz'd, as I slowly withdrew;
My path I could hardly discern;
So sweetly she bade me adieu,
I thought that she bade me return.

The pilgrim that journeys all day
To visit some far-distant shrine,
If he bear but a relique away,
Is happy, nor heard to repine.
Thus widely remov'd from the fair,
Where my vows, my devotion, I owe,
Soft hope is the relique I bear,
And my solace wherever I go.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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William Shenstone

William Shenstone was an English poet and one of the earliest practitioners of landscape gardening through the development of his estate, The Leasowes. more…

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