Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A DISAPPOINTMENT, by JOANNA BAILLIE



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A DISAPPOINTMENT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: On village green, whose smooth and well-worn sod
Last Line: And tray responsive joins with long and piteous yell.
Subject(s): Disappointment


ON village green, whose smooth and well-worn sod,
Cross-pathed, with every gossip's foot is trod;
By cottage door where playful children run,
And cats and curs sit basking in the sun:
Where o'er the earthen seat the thorn is bent,
Cross-armed, and back to wall, poor William leant.
His bonnet broad drawn o'er his gathered brow,
His hanging lip and lengthened visage show
A mind but ill at ease. With motions strange,
His listless limbs their wayward postures change;
Whilst many a crooked line and curious maze,
With clouted shoon, he on the sand portrays.
The half-chewed straw fell slowly from his mouth,
And to himself low mutt'ring spoke the youth.
'How simple is the lad, and reft of skill,
Who thinks with love to fix a woman's will:
Who ev'ry Sunday morn, to please her sight,
Knots up his neck-cloth gay and hosen white:
Who for her pleasure keeps his pockets bare,
And half his wages spends on pedlar's ware;
When every niggard clown or dotard old,
Who hides in secret nooks his oft-told gold,
Whose field or orchard tempts with all her pride,
At little cost may win her for his bride;
Whilst all the meed her silly lover gains
Is but the neighbours' jeering for his pains.
On Sunday last when Susan's banns were read,
And I astonished sat with hanging head,
Cold grew my shrinking limbs and loose my knee,
Whilst every neighbour's eye was fixed on me.
Ah, Sue! when last we worked at Hodge's hay,
And still at me you jeered in wanton play;
When last at fair, well pleased by showman's stand,
You took the new-bought fairing from my hand;
When at old Hobb's you sung that song so gay,
'Sweet William' still the burthen of the lay,
I little thought, alas! the lots were cast,
That thou should'st be another's bride at last:
And had, when last we tripped it on the green
And laughed at stiff-backed Rob, small thought, I ween,
Ere yet another scanty month was flown,
To see thee wedded to the hateful clown.
Ay, lucky swain, more gold thy pockets line;
But did these shapely limbs resemble thine,
I'd stay at home and tend the household gear,
Nor on the green with other lads appear.
Ay, lucky swain, no store thy cottage lacks,
And round thy barn thick stand the sheltered stacks;
But did such features hard my visage grace,
I'd never budge the bonnet from my face.
Yet let it be: it shall not break my ease;
He best deserves who doth the maiden please.
Such silly cause no more shall give me pain,
Nor ever maiden cross my rest again.
Such grizzly suitors with their taste agree,
And the black fiend may take them all for me!'
Now through the village rise confusèd sounds,
Hoarse lads, and children shrill, and yelping hounds.
Straight ev'ry matron at the door is seen,
And pausing hedgers on their mattocks lean.
At every narrow lane and alley mouth,
Loud laughing lasses stand, and joking youth.
A near approaching band in colours gay,
With minstrels blithe before to cheer the way,
From clouds of curling dust which onward fly,
In rural splendour break upon the eye.
As in their way they hold so gaily on,
Caps, beads and buttons glancing in the sun,
Each village wag, with eye of roguish cast,
Some maiden jogs and vents the ready jest;
Whilst village toasts the passing belles deride,
And sober matrons marvel at their pride.
But William, head erect, with settled brow,
In sullen silence viewed the passing show;
And oft he scratched his pate with manful grace,
And scorned to pull the bonnet o'er his face;
But did with steady look unmovèd wait,
Till hindmost man had turned the church-yard gate;
Then turned him to his cot with visage flat,
Where honest Tray upon the threshold sat.
Up jumped the kindly beast his hand to lick,
And, for his pains, received an angry kick.
Loud shuts the flapping door with thund'ring din;
The echoes round their circling course begin,
From cot to cot in wide progressive swell;
Deep groans the church-yard wall and neighb'ring dell,
And Tray responsive joins with long and piteous yell.





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