A Neighbourly Resolution (1800)


With scythe, fresh sharpen’d, by his side,
To bring the ripen’d barley down,
One morning, when the dew was dried,
Thus musing with himself, John Brown
Stood, where, of late, 5
His little gate
Was cover’d by an elm’s broad shade:—
‘Ah! there thou ly’st, wide shelt’ring tree!
Beneath whose boughs, in youthful glee,
My first love-vow was made.10
Thou hast survived my wife, ’tis true,
Thy leaves have sigh’d to me alone;
Have sigh’d in autumn’s yellow hue—
I’ve felt thy lessons, every one.
Of thee, bereft, 15
There may be left,’
(Tho’ ’twas no friend that cut thee down)
There may be left in store, I say,
Some joys—for Goody Gascoin may
Be kind to neighbour Brown.20
I’ve liv’d alone; she’s done the same,
Thro’ summer’s heat and winter’s cold;
I trust we still might feel love’s flame,
Tho’ girls and boys may call us old:
O could we be 25
Embower’d by thee!
Vain wish! my poor old elm is down:—
May shadeless labour, and sour ale,
Far from this stream, and this sweet vale,
Plague him that robb’d John Brown.30
But tho’, ’midst clust’ring leaves, no more
The Robin gives his morning trill;
Winter may bring him to my door,
And Goody Gascoin, if she will.
I’ll know her mind; 35
If so inclined,
’Tis death alone shall make us part:
And tho’ his cot’s sweet shade is down,
This charm she’ll find in neighbour Brown,
Gay cheerfulness of heart.’40


*Written in 1800. See Letter 33. Published in The Monthly Mirror, 10 (July 1800), 48–49. In Letter 94, 2 September 1802, Bloomfield wrote of it, ‘I own that I have resolutely endeavoured to get at the disposal of my own pieces, I have burnt several, and my proof of the wisdom of the deed is by referring you to one which is now irrecoverable, a foolish story called John Brown printed in the [MS torn], though I left it out of my collection’. BACK