Ballad. "When Nature's Beauty Shone Complete."

A poem by John Clare

When nature's beauty shone complete.
With summer's lovely weather,
And even, shadowing day's retreat,
Brought swains and maids together;
Then I did meet a charming face,
But who--I'll be discreet:
Though lords themselves without disgrace
Might love whom I did meet.

"Good evening, lovely lass," said I,
To make her silence break;
The instant evening's blushing sky
Was rival'd in her cheek;
Her eyes were turn'd upon the ground,
She made me no reply,
But downward looks my bosom found:
"You've won me," whisper'd I.

And I did try all love could do,
And she try'd all to fly,
Now lingering slow to let me go,
Then hurrying to pass by:
"My love," said I, "you've me mistook,
No harm from me you'll meet;"
She only answer'd with a look,
But it was 'witching sweet.

I own'd my love, and prais'd her eyes,
Whose power she little knew;
And doubtless then she fancied lies,
What since she's proved true;
Confusion mingling fear and shame,
Between the "Yes" and "No,"
O when I mention'd love's soft name
How sweet her cheeks did glow!

I told her all the open truth,
'Bout being a labouring swain,
With not one groat to boast, forsooth,
But what hard work did gain:
And begg'd excuse in such-like clothes
Within her way to fall;
Wenches are ta'en with flashy beaus--
But she excus'd it all.

As near the humble cot we came,
Her fears did meet alarm
Lest friends imprudent ways should blame,
And think I meant her harm:
So there I prest her to my heart,
And there a kiss was ta'en,
And there I vow'd, ere we did part,
To meet her soon again.

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