Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, COLIN AND PHEBE, by JOHN BYROM



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COLIN AND PHEBE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: My time, o ye muses, was happily spent
Last Line: Take heed, all ye swains, how ye part with your fair!
Variant Title(s): A Pastoral
Subject(s): Absence; Separation; Isolation


MY time, O ye Muses, was happily spent,
When Phebe went with me wherever I went;
Ten thousand sweet pleasures I felt in my breast:
Sure never fond shepherd like Colin was blest!
But, now she is gone and has left me behind,
What a marvellous change on a sudden I find!
When things seem'd as fine as could possibly be,
I thought 'twas the Spring; but, alas! it was she.

With such a companion to tend a few sheep,
To rise up and play, or to lie down and sleep,
So good humour'd made me, so cheerful and gay,
My heart was as light as a feather all day.
But now I so cross and so peevish am grown,
So strangely uneasy as never was known.
My fair one is gone, and my joys are all drown'd;
And my heart, I am sure, weighs more than a pound.

The fountain that wont to run sweetly along,
And dance to soft murmurs the pebbles among,
Thou know'st, little Cupid, if Phebe was there,
'Twas pleasure to look at, 'twas music to hear.
But, now she is absent, I walk by its side,
And still as it murmurs do nothing but chide;
"Must you be so cheerful while I go in pain?
"Peace there with your bubbling, and hear me complain!"

When round me my lambkins would oftentimes play,
And Phebe and I were as joyful as they,
How pleasant their sporting, how happy the time
When spring, love, and beauty were all in their prime!
But now, in their frolics when by me they pass,
I fling at their fleeces a handful of grass:
"Be still!" then I cry, "for it makes me quite mad
"To see you so merry while I am so sad."

My dog I was ever well pleased to see
Come, wagging his tail, to my fair one and me;
Phebe likewise was pleas'd, and to my dog said,
"Come hither, poor fellow;" and patted his head.
But now, when he's fawning, I with a sour look
Cry "Sirrah!" and give him a blow with my crook:
And I'll give him another; for why should not Tray
Be as dull as his master, when Phebe's away?

When walking with Phebe, what sights have I seen!
How fair were the flowers, how fresh was the green!
What a lovely appearance the trees and the shade,
The cornfields, the hedges, and ev'ry thing made!
But, now she has left me, they all are in tears,
Not one of them half so delightful appears:
'Twas nought but the magic, I find, of her eyes
Which made all these beautiful prospects arise.

Sweet music attended us all the wood thro',
The lark, linnet, throstle,—and nightingale too;
Winds over us whisper'd, flocks by us did bleat,
And "Chirp" went the grasshopper under our feet.
Now, since she is absent, though still they sing on,
The woods are but lonely, the melody's gone;
Her voice in the concert, as now I have found,
Gave ev'ry thing else its agreeable sound.

Rose, what is become of thy delicate hue?
And where is the violet's beautiful blue?
Does aught of its sweetness the blossom beguile?
That meadow, those daisies,—why do they not smile?
Ah! rivals, I see what it was, that you drest
And made yourselves fine for,—a place in her breast:
You put on your colours to please her fine eye,
To be pluck'd by her hand, on her bosom to die.

How slowly time creeps! till my Phebe return,
Amid the soft zephyr's cool breezes I burn!
Methinks if I knew whereabout he would tread,
I could breathe on his wings; it would melt down the lead.
Fly swifter, ye minutes, bring hither my Dear,
And for it rest longer when she shall be here.
Ah! Colin, old time is too full of delay,
Nor will budge one foot faster for all thou canst say.

Will no pitying pow'r that hears me complain,
Or cure my disquiet, or soften my pain?
To be cur'd, thou must, Colin, thy passion remove:
Yet what swain is so silly to live without love?
No, deity, bid the dear nymph to return;
For ne'er was poor shepherd so sadly forlorn.
Ah! what shall I do? I shall die with despair!
Take heed, all ye swains, how ye part with your Fair!





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