The Despairing Shepherd

A poem by Matthew Prior

Alexis shun'd his Fellow Swains,
Their rural Sports, and jocund Strains:
(Heav'n guard us all from Cupid's Bow!)
He lost his Crook, He left his Flocks;
And wand'ring thro' the lonely Rocks,
He nourish'd endless Woe.
The Nymphs and Shepherds round Him came:
His Grief Some pity, Others blame:
The fatal Cause All kindly seek.
He mingled his Concern with Their's:
He gave 'em back their friendly Tears:
He sigh'd, but would not speak.
Clorinda came among the rest:
And She too kind Concern exprest,
And ask'd the Reason of his Woe:
She ask'd, but with an Air and Mein,
That made it easily foreseen,
She fear'd too much to know.
The Shepherd rais'd his mournful Head:
And will You pardon Me, He said,
While I the cruel Truth reveal?
Which nothing from my Breast should tear;
Which never should offend Your Ear;
But that You bid Me tell.
'Tis thus I rove, 'tis thus complain;
Since You appear'd upon the Plain:
You are the Cause of all my Care:
Your Eyes ten thousand Dangers dart:
Ten thousand Torments vex My Heart:
I love, and I despair.
Too much, Alexis, I have heard:
'Tis what I thought; 'tis what I fear'd:
And yet I pardon You, She cry'd:
But You shall promise ne'er again
To breath your Vows, or speak your Pain:
He bow'd, obey'd, and dy'd.

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