The Shepherd's Week

Original Text: 
Facsimile edn.: John Gay, The shepherd's week, 1714 (Menston: Scolar, 1969). PR 3473 S5 1714A.
20Lest blisters sore on thy own tongue arise.
21Lo yonder Cloddipole, the blithesome swain,
22The wisest lout of all the neighbouring plain!
23From Cloddipole we learnt to read the skies,
24To know when hail will fall, or winds arise.
25He taught us erst the heifer's tail to view,
26When stuck aloft, that show'rs would straight ensue;
27He first that useful secret did explain,
28That pricking corns foretold the gath'ring rain.
29When swallows fleet soar high and sport in air,
30He told us that the welkin would be clear.
31Let Cloddipole then hear us twain rehearse,
32And praise his sweetheart in alternate verse.
33I'll wager this same oaken staff with thee,
34That Cloddipole shall give the prize to me.
35      See this tobacco-pouch that's lin'd with hair,
36Made of the skin of sleekest fallow deer.
37This pouch, that's tied with tape of reddest hue,
38I'll wager, that the prize shall be my due.
39      Begin thy carols then, thou vaunting slouch,
40Be thine the oaken staff, or mine the pouch.
41      My Blouzelinda is the blithest lass,
42Than primrose sweeter, or the clover-grass.
43Fair is the king-cup that in meadow blows,
44Fair is the daisy that beside her grows,
45Fair is the gillyflow'r, of gardens sweet,
46Fair is the marigold, for pottage meet.
47But Blouzelind's than gillyflow'r more fair,
48Than daisy, marigold, or king-cup rare.
49      My brown Buxoma is the featest maid,
51Clean as young lambkins or the goose's down,
52And like the goldfinch in her Sunday gown.
53The witless lamb may sport upon the plain,
54The frisking kid delight the gaping swain,
55The wanton calf may skip with many a bound,
56And my cur Tray play deftest feats around;
57But neither lamb nor kid, nor calf nor Tray,
58Dance like Buxoma on the first of May.
59      Sweet is my toil when Blouzelind is near,
60Of her bereft 'tis winter all the year.
61With her no sultry summer's heat I know;
62In winter, when she's nigh, with love I glow.
63Come, Blouzelinda, ease thy swain's desire,
64My summer's shadow and my winter's fire!
65      As with Buxoma once I work'd at hay,
66Ev'n noon-tide labour seem'd a holiday;
67And holidays, if haply she were gone,
68Like worky-days I wish'd would soon be done.
69Eftsoons, O sweet-heart kind, my love repay,
70And all the year shall then be holiday.
71      As Blouzelinda in a gamesome mood,
72Behind a haycock loudly laughing stood,
73I slily ran, and snatch'd a hasty kiss,
74She wip'd her lips, nor took it much amiss.
75Believe me, Cuddy, while I'm bold to say,
76Her breath was sweeter than the ripen'd hay.
77As my Buxoma in a morning fair,
78With gentle finger strok'd her milky care,
80She frown'd, yet after granted one or two.
81Lobbin, I swear, believe who will my vows,
82Her breath by far excell'd the breathing cows.
84Of Irish swains potato is the cheer;
85Oats for their feasts, the Scottish shepherds grind,
86Sweet turnips are the food of Blouzelind.
87While she loves turnips, butter I'll despise,
88Nor leeks nor oatmeal nor potato prize.
89      In good roast-beef my landlord sticks his knife,
90The capon fat delights his dainty wife,
91Pudding our parson eats, the squire loves hare,
93While she loves white-pot, capon ne'er shall be,
94Nor hare, nor beef, nor pudding, food for me.
119      Forbear, contending louts, give o'er your strains,
121But see the sun-beams bright to labour warn,
122And gild the thatch of goodman Hodges' barn.
123Your herds for want of water stand adry,
124They're weary of your songs--and so am I.


19] First published in 1714, with a "Proeme to the courteous reader" and a dedicatory prologue to Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke. "The Squabble" is the first of six pastorals written at the instigation of Pope to ridicule the pastorals of Ambrose Philips (see lines 100 and 179-80 of Pope's Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot), and is a burlesque of the pastoral singing-match. Gay says in his "Proeme" (similarly a burlesque of the archaic style): " ... it is my purpose, gentle reader, to set before thee, as it were a picture, or rather lively landscape of thy own country, just as thou mightest see it, didst thou take a walk into the fields at the proper season.... Thou wilt not find my shepherdesses idly piping on oaten reeds, but milking the kine, tying up the sheaves, or, if the hogs are astray, driving them to their styes. My shepherd gathereth none other nosegays but what are the growth of our own fields, he sleepeth not under myrtle shades, but under a hedge, nor doth he vigilantly defend his flocks from wolves, because there are none, as master Spenser well observeth... . What liketh me best are his [Spenser's] names, indeed right simple and meet for the country, such as Lobbin, Cuddy, Hobbinol, Diggon, and others, some of which I have made bold to borrow. Moreover, as he called his eclogues the shepherd's calendar, and divided the same into twelve months, I have chosen (peradventure not over-rashly) to name mine by the days of the week, omitting Sunday or the Sabbath, ours being supposed to be Christian shepherds, and to be then at church worship ..." Back to Line
50] Wake: a village festival held on the eve of a saint's day. Back to Line
79] quaintly: archly, waggishly. Back to Line
83] Leek to the Welsh: Gay cites Virgil, Eclogues, VII, 61-64. Back to Line
92] white-pot: a kind of rice and milk pudding. Back to Line
120] Gay cites Virgil, Eclogues, III, 109. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
G. G. Falle
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.82.