[Page 79]


1 ON village green whose smooth and well-worn sod,
2 Cross pathed, with many a gossip's foot is trod;
3 By cottage door where playful children run,
4 And cats and curs sit basking in the sun;
5 Where o'er an earthen seat the thorn is bent,
6 Cross-armed and back to wall poor William leant.
7 His bonnet all awry, his gathered brow,
8 His hanging lip and lengthened visage shew
9 A mind but ill at ease. With motions strange
10 His listless limbs their wayward postures change;
11 While many a crooked line and curious maze
12 With clouted shoon he on the sand pourtrays.
13 At length the half-chew'd straw fell from his mouth,
14 And to himself low spoke the moody youth.
[Page 80]
15 "How simple is the lad, and reft of skill,
16 Who thinks with love to fix a woman's will!
17 Who every Sunday morn to please her sight,
18 Knots up his neck-cloth gay and hosen white;
19 Who for her pleasure keeps his pockets bare,
20 And half his wages spends on pedlar's ware;
21 When every niggard clown or dotard old,
22 Who hides in secret nooks his oft-told gold,
23 Whose field or orchard tempts, with all her pride,
24 At little cost may win her for his bride!
25 While all the meed her silly lover gains,
26 Is but the neighbours' jeering for his pains.
27 On Sunday last, when Susan's banns were read,
28 And I astonished sat with hanging head,
29 Cold grew my shrinking frame, and loose my knee,
30 While every neighbour's eye was fixed on me.
31 Ah Sue! when last we worked at Hodge's hay,
32 And still at me you mocked in wanton play
33 When last at fair, well pleased by chapman's stand,
34 You took the new-bought fairing from my hand
35 When at old Hobb's you sung that song so gay,
36 'Sweet William,' still the burthen of the lay,
[Page 81]
37 I little thought, alas! the lots were cast,
38 That thou shouldst be another's bride at last:
39 And had, when last we tripped it on the green,
40 And laughed at stiff-back'd Rob, small thoughts I ween,
41 Ere yet another scanty month was flown
42 To see thee wedded to the hateful clown;
43 Ay, lucky churl! more gold thy pockets line;
44 But did these shapely limbs resemble thine,
45 I'd stay at home and tend the household geer,
46 Nor on the green with other lads appear.
47 Ay, lucky churl! no store thy cottage lacks,
48 And round thy barn thick stand the sheltered stacks,
49 But did such features coarse my visage grace,
50 I'd never budge the bonnet from my face.
51 Yet let it be; it shall not break my ease!
52 He best deserves who doth the maiden please.
53 Such silly cause no more shall give me pain,
54 Nor ever maiden cross my rest again.
55 Such grizzled suitors with their taste agree,
56 And the black fiend may have them all for me!
[Page 82]
57 Now through the village rise confused sounds,
58 Hoarse lads, and children shrill, and yelping hounds.
59 Straight every housewife at her door is seen,
60 And pausing hedgers on their mattocks lean.
61 At every narrow lane and alley's mouth,
62 Loud-laughing lasses stand and joking youth.
63 A bridal band tricked out in colours gay,
64 With minstrels blythe before to cheer the way,
65 From clouds of curling dust that onward fly,
66 In rural splendour breaks upon the eye.
67 As in their way they hold so gayly on,
68 Caps, beads, and buttons, glancing to the sun,
69 Each village wag with eye of roguish cast,
70 Some maiden jogs and vents the ready jest;
71 While village toast the passing belles deride,
72 And sober matrons marvel at their pride.
73 But William, head erect with settled brow,
74 In sullen silence viewed the passing show;
75 And oft he scratched his pate with careless grace,
76 And scorned to pull the bonnet o'er his face;
77 But did with steady look unaltered wait,
78 Till hindmost man had passed the Churchyard gate,
[Page 83]
79 Then turned him to his cot with visage flat,
80 Where honest Lightfoot on the threshold sat.
81 Up leaped the kindly beast his hand to lick,
82 And for his pains received an angry kick.
83 Loud shuts the door with harsh and thundering din;
84 The echoes round their circling course begin.
85 From cot to cot, church tower, and rocky dell,
86 It grows amain with wide progressive swell,
87 And Lightfoot joins the coil with loud and piteous yell.


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Title (in Source Edition): A DISAPPOINTMENT.
Themes: rural life
Genres: heroic couplet

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Source edition

Baillie, Joanna, 1762-1851. Fugitive Verses. By Joanna Baillie, author of “Dramas on the Passions,“ etc. London: Edward Moxon, Dover Street. MDCCCXL., 1840, pp. 79-83.  (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [40.17].)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Joanna Baillie