Dolly: a Ballad


Ingenuous trust, and confidence of Love.’ [1] 

The Bat began with giddy wing
His circuit round the Shed, the Tree;
And clouds of dancing Gnats to sing
A summer-night’s serenity.
Darkness crept slowly o’er the East! 5
Upon the Barn-roof watch’d the Cat;
Sweet breath’d the ruminating Beast
At rest where Dolly musing sat.
A simple Maid, who could employ
The silent lapse of Evening mild, 10
And lov’d its solitary joy:
For Dolly was Reflection’s child.
He who had pledg’d his word to be
Her life’s dear guardian, far away,
The flow’r of Yeoman Cavalry, 15
Bestrode a Steed with trappings gay.
And thus from memory’s treasur’d sweets,
And thus from Love’s pure fount she drew
That peace, which busy care defeats,
And bids our pleasures bloom anew. 20
Six weeks of absence have I borne
Since Henry took his fond farewell:
The charms of that delightful morn
My tongue could thus for ever tell.
He at my Window whistling loud,25
Arous’d my lightsome heart to go:
Day, conqu’ring climb’d from cloud to cloud;
The fields all wore a purple glow.
We stroll’d the bordering flow’rs among:
One hand the Bridle held behind; 30
The other round my waist was flung:
Sure never Youth spoke half so kind!
The rising Lark I could but hear;
And jocund seem’d the song to be:
But sweeter sounded in my ear, 35
‘Will Dolly still be true to me!’
From the rude Dock my skirt had swept
A fringe of clinging burrs so green;
Like them our hearts still closer crept,
And hook’d a thousand holds unseen. 40
High o’er the road each branching bough
Its globes of silent dew had shed;
And on the pure-wash’d sand below
The dimpling drops around had spread.


The sweet-brier op’d its pink-ey’d rose, 45
And gave its fragrance to the gale;
Though modest flow’rs may sweets disclose,
More sweet was Henry's earnest tale.
He seem’d, methought, on that dear morn,
To pour out all his heart to me;50
As if, the separation borne,
The coming hours would joyless be.


A bank rose high beside the way,
And full against the Morning Sun;
Of heav’nly blue there Violets gay 55
His hand invited one by one.
The posy with a smile he gave;
I saw his meaning in his eyes:
The wither’d treasure still I have;
My bosom holds the fragrant prize. 60
With his last kiss he would have vow’d;
But blessings crouding forc’d their way:
Then mounted he his Courser proud;
His time elaps’d, he could not stay.
Then first I felt the parting pang;— 65
Sure the worst pang the Lover feels!
His Horse unruly from me sprang,
The pebbles flew beneath his heels;
Then down the road his vigour tried,
His rider gazing, gazing still; 70
My dearest, I’ll be true,’ he cried:—
And, if he lives, I’m sure he will.
Then haste, ye hours, haste, Eve and Morn,
Yet strew your blessings round my home:
Ere Winter’s blasts shall strip the thorn 75
My promise’d joy, my love, will come. [2] 


[1] [Edward Young, Night Thoughts. Night VIII, 307.] BACK

[2] [1st edn, 1st state adds note:] Highly animated, natural, and engaging. C. L.] omitted in 1st edn, 2nd state and later edns BACK