John Gay (30 June 1685 – 4 December 1732 / Barnstaple, England)
The Shepherd's Week : Friday; or, The Dirge
Why, Grubbinol, dost thou so wistful seem?
There's sorrow in thy look, if right I deem.
'Tis true, yon oaks with yellow tops appear,
And chilly blasts begin to nip the year;
From the tall elm a shower of leaves is borne
And their lost beauty riven beeches mourn.
Yet ev'n this season pleasance blithe affords,
Now the squeez'd press foams with our apple hoards.
Come, let us hie, and quaff a cheery bowl,
Let cyder new wash sorrow from my soul.
Ah Bumkinet! since thou from hence wert gone,
From these sad plains all merriment is flown;
Should I reveal my grief 'twould spoil thy cheer,
And make thine eye o'erflow with many a tear.
Hang sorrow! let's to yonder hut repair,
And with trim sonnets cast away our care,
Gilliam of Croydon well thy pipe can play,
Thou sing'st most sweet, O'er hills and far away,
Of Patient Grissel I devise to sing,
And catches quaint shall make the valleys ring.
Come, Grubbinol, beneath this shelter come,
From hence we view our flocks securely roam.
Yes, blithesome lad, a tale I mean to sing,
But with my wo shall distant valleys ring.
The tale shall make our kidlings droop their head,
For wo is me! - our Blouzelind is dead.
It Blouzelinda dead? Farewell my glee!
No happiness is now reserv'd for me.
As the wood-pigeon cooes without his mate,
So shall my doleful dirge bewail her fate.
Of Blouzelinda fair I mean to tell,
The peerless maid that did all maids excel.
Hence forth the morn shall dewy sorrow shed,
And evening tears upon the grass be spread;
The rolling streams with watery grief shall flow,
And winds shall moan aloud - when loud they blow,
Henceforth, as oft as autumn shall return,
The dropping trees, whene'er it rains shall mourn;
This season quite shall strip the country's pride,
For 'twas in autumn Blouzelinda died.
Where'er I gad, I Blouzelind shall view,
Woods, dairy, barn and mows our passion knew.
When I direct my eyes to yonder wood,
Fresh rising sorrow curdles in my blood.
Thither I've often been the damsel's guide,
When rotten sticks our fuel have supply'd;
There I remember how her faggots large,
Were frequently these happy shoulders' charge.
Sometimes this crook drew hazel boughs adown,
And stuff'd her apron wide with nuts so brown;
Or when her feeding hogs had miss'd their way,
Or wallowing 'mid a feast of acorns lay;
The untoward creatures to the stye I drove,
And whistled all the way - or told my love.
If by the dairy's hatch I chance to hie,
I shall her goodly countenance espy,
For there her goodly countenance I've seen,
Set off with kerchief starch'd and pinners clean.
Sometimes, like wax, she rolls the butter round,
Or with the wooden lily prints the pound.
Whilome I've seen her skim the clouted cream,
And press from spungy curds the milky stream,
But now, alas! these ears shall hear no more
The whining swine surround the dairy door,
No more her care shall fill the hollow tray,
To fat the guzzling hogs with floods of whey.
Lament, ye swine, in gruntings spend your grief,
For you, like me, have lost your sole relief.
When in the barn the sounding flail I ply,
Where from her sieve the chaff was wont to fly,
The poultry there will seem around to stand,
Waiting upon her charitable hand.
No succour meet the poultry now can find,
For they, like me, have lost their Blouzelind.
Whenever by yon barley mow I pass,
Before my eyes will trip the tidy lass.
I pitch'd the sheaves (oh could I do so now)
Which she in rows pil'd on the growing mow.
There every deale my heart by love was gain'd,
There the sweet kiss my courtship has explain'd.
Ah Blouzelind! that now I ne'er shall see,
But thy memorial will revive in me.
Lament, ye fields, and rueful symptoms show,
Henceforth let not the smelling primrose grow;
Let weeds instead of butter-flowers appear,
And meads, instead of daisies, hemlock bear;
For cowslips sweet let dandelions spread,
For Blouzelinda, blithesome maid, is dead!
Lament, ye swains, and o'er her grave bemoan,
And spell ye right this verse upon her stone,
'Here Blouzelinda lies - Alas, alas!
Weep shepherds - and remember flesh is grass.'
Albeit thy songs are sweeter to mine ear,
Than to the thirsty cattle rivers clear;
Or winter porridge to the labouring youth,
Or bunns and sugar to the damsel's tooth;
Yet Blouzelind's name shall tune my lay,
Of her I'll sing for ever and for aye.
When Blouzelind expir'd, the weather's bell
Before the drooping flock told forth her knell;
The solemn death-watch click'd the hour she died,
And shrilling crickets in the chimney cried;
The boding raven on her cottage sate,
And with hoarse croacking warn'd us of her fate;
The lambkins, which her wonted tendance bred,
Dropp'd on the plains that fatal instant dead;
Swarm'd on a rotten stick the bees I spy'd,
Which erst I saw when goody Dobson died.
How shall I, void of tears, her death relate,
While on her dearling's bed her mother sate!
These words the dying Blouzelinda spoke,
And 'of the dead let none the will revoke.'
Mother, quoth she, let not the poultry need,
And give the goose wherewith to raise her breed,
Be these my sister's care - and every morn
Amid the ducklings let her scatter corn;
The sickly calf that's hous'd be sure to tend,
Feed him with milk, and from bleak colds defend.
Yet ere I die - see, mother, yonder shelf,
There secretly I've hid my worldly pelf.
Twenty good shillings in a rag I laid,
Be ten the parson's, for my sermon paid.
The rest is yours - my spinning-wheel and rake,
Let Susan keep for her dear sister's sake;
My new straw-hat that's trimly lin'd with green,
Let Peggy wear, for she's a damsel clean.
My leathern bottle, long in harvests try'd,
Be Grubbinol's - this silver ring beside:
Three silver pennies, and a ninepence bent,
A token kind, to Bumkinet is sent.
Thus spoke the maiden, while her mother cried,
And peaceful, like the harmless lamb she died.
To show their love, the neighbours far and near,
Followed with wistful look the damsel's bier.
Sprigg'd rosemary the lads and lasses bore,
While dismally the parson walk'd before.
Upon her grave the rosemary they threw,
The daisy, butter-flower, and endive blue.
After the good man warn'd us from his text,
That none could tell whose turn would be the next;
He said, that heaven would take her soul, no doubt,
And spoke the hour-glass in her praise - quite out.
To her sweet memory flowery garlands strung,
O'er her now empty seat aloft were hung.
With wicker rods we fenc'd her tomb around,
To ward from man and beast the hallow'd ground,
Lest her new grave the parson's cattle raze,
For both his horse and cow the church-yard graze.
Now we trudg'd homeward to her mother's farm,
To drink new cyder mull'd, with ginger warm.
For gaffer Tread-well told us by the by,
'Excessive sorrow is exceeding dry.'
While bulls bear horns upon their curled brow,
Or lasses with soft stroakings milk the cow,
While pudling ducks the standing lake desire,
Or battening hogs roll in the sinking mire;
Whole moles the crumbling earth in hillocks raise,
So long shall swains tell Blouzelinda's praise.
Thus wail'd the louts in melancholy strain,
'Till bonny Susan sped across the plain;
They seiz'd the lass in apron clean array'd,
And to the ale-house forc'd the willing maid,
In ale and kisses they forget their cares,
And Susan Blouzelinda's loss repairs.
Comments about this poem (The Shepherd's Week : Friday; or, The Dirge by John Gay )
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