The Shepherd and the Calm.
No MS; 1713 Misc, 113-6*.
[Page 113] Soothing his Passions with a warb'ling Sound,
A Shepherd-Swain lay stretch'd upon the Ground;
Whilst all were mov'd, who their Attention lent,
Or with the Harmony in Chorus went,
To something less than Joy, yet more than dull Content.
(Between which two Extreams true Pleasure lies,
O'er-run by Fools, unreach'd-at by the Wise )
But yet, a fatal Prospect to the Sea
Wou'd often draw his greedy Sight away.
He saw the Barques unlading on the Shore,
And guess'd their Wealth, then scorn'd his little Store.
Then wou'd that Little lose, or else wou'd make it more.
To Merchandize converted is the Fold,
The Bag, the Bottle, and the Hurdles sold;
The Dog was chang'd away, the pretty Skell
Whom he had fed, and taught, and lov'd so well.
[Page 114] In vain the Phillis wept, which heretofore
Receiv'd his Presents, and his Garlands wore.
False and upbraided, he forsakes the Downs,
Nor courts her Smiles, nor fears the Ocean's Frowns.
For smooth it lay, as if one single Wave
Made all the Sea, nor Winds that Sea cou'd heave;
Which blew no more than might his Sails supply:
Clear was the Air below, and Phoebus laugh'd on high.
With this Advent'rer ev'ry thing combines,
And Gold to Gold his happy Voyage joins;
But not so prosp'rous was the next Essay,
For rugged Blasts encounter'd on the way,
Scarce cou'd the Men escape, the Deep had all their Prey.
Our broken Merchant in the Wreck was thrown
Upon those Lands, which once had been his own;
Where other Flocks now pastur'd on the Grass,
And other Corydons had woo'd his Lass.
A Servant, for small Profits, there he turns,
Yet thrives again, and less and less he mourns;
[Page 115] Re-purchases in time th'abandon'd Sheep,
Which sad Experience taught him now to keep.
When from that very Bank, one Halcyon Day,
On which he lean'd, when tempted to the Sea,
He notes a Calm; the Winds and Waves were still,
And promis'd what the Winds nor Waves fulfill,
A settl'd Quiet, and Conveyance sure,
To him that Wealth, by Traffick, wou'd procure.
But the rough part the Shepherd now performs,
Reviles the Cheat, and at the Flatt'ry storms.
Ev'n thus (quoth he) you seem'd all Rest and Ease,
You sleeping Tempests, you untroubl'd Seas,
That ne'er to be forgot, that luckless Hour,
In which I put my Fortunes in your Pow'r;
Quitting my slender, but secure Estate,
My undisturb'd Repose, my sweet Retreat,
For Treasures which you ravish'd in a Day,
But swept my Folly, with my Goods, away.
Then smile no more, nor these false Shews employ,
Thou momentary Calm, thou fleeting Joy;
[Page 116] No more on me shall these fair Signs prevail,
Some other Novice may be won to Sail,
Give me a certain Fate in the obscurest Vale.
Rpt of 1713: 1903 Reynolds, 183-5; rpt of 1903 Reynolds: 1930 Fausset, 82-4.
La Fontaine, "Le Berger et la mer," IV, 2, 107.
Rpt of 1713/1903: 1905 Tutin, 17-9.
Very free imitation. In lieu of La Fontaine's ironic use of overtly cliched pastoral visibilia briefly offered, Finch elaborates realistic details of seascape and a wrecked merchants. Her closing personal statement also transforms La Fontaine's light impersonal text into original powerful poetry. La Fontaine ended with "La Mer promet monts et merveilles;/Fiez-vous-y, lesv ents et les voleurs viendront.." The theme of retirement, obscurity, hiding in dark places is obsessive in Finch's work.
Page Last Updated 8 January 2003