John Gay

30 June 1685 – 4 December 1732 / Barnstaple, England

The Shepherd's Week (Excerpt)

Lobbin Clout, Cuddy, CloddipoleCUDDY

Hold, witless Lobbin Clout, I thee advise,
Lest blisters sore on thy own tongue arise.
Lo yonder Cloddipole, the blithesome swain,
The wisest lout of all the neighbouring plain!
From Cloddipole we learnt to read the skies,
To know when hail will fall, or winds arise.
He taught us erst the heifer's tail to view,
When stuck aloft, that show'rs would straight ensue;
He first that useful secret did explain,
That pricking corns foretold the gath'ring rain.
When swallows fleet soar high and sport in air,
He told us that the welkin would be clear.
Let Cloddipole then hear us twain rehearse,
And praise his sweetheart in alternate verse.
I'll wager this same oaken staff with thee,
That Cloddipole shall give the prize to me.LOBBIN CLOUT

See this tobacco-pouch that's lin'd with hair,
Made of the skin of sleekest fallow deer.
This pouch, that's tied with tape of reddest hue,
I'll wager, that the prize shall be my due.CUDDY

Begin thy carols then, thou vaunting slouch,
Be thine the oaken staff, or mine the pouch.LOBBIN CLOUT

My Blouzelinda is the blithest lass,
Than primrose sweeter, or the clover-grass.
Fair is the king-cup that in meadow blows,
Fair is the daisy that beside her grows,
Fair is the gillyflow'r, of gardens sweet,
Fair is the marigold, for pottage meet.
But Blouzelind's than gillyflow'r more fair,
Than daisy, marigold, or king-cup rare.CUDDY

My brown Buxoma is the featest maid,
That e'er at Wake delightsome gambol play'd.
Clean as young lambkins or the goose's down,
And like the goldfinch in her Sunday gown.
The witless lamb may sport upon the plain,
The frisking kid delight the gaping swain,
The wanton calf may skip with many a bound,
And my cur Tray play deftest feats around;
But neither lamb nor kid, nor calf nor Tray,
Dance like Buxoma on the first of May.LOBBIN CLOUT

Sweet is my toil when Blouzelind is near,
Of her bereft 'tis winter all the year.
With her no sultry summer's heat I know;
In winter, when she's nigh, with love I glow.
Come, Blouzelinda, ease thy swain's desire,
My summer's shadow and my winter's fire!CUDDY

As with Buxoma once I work'd at hay,
Ev'n noon-tide labour seem'd a holiday;
And holidays, if haply she were gone,
Like worky-days I wish'd would soon be done.
Eftsoons, O sweet-heart kind, my love repay,
And all the year shall then be holiday.LOBBIN CLOUT

As Blouzelinda in a gamesome mood,
Behind a haycock loudly laughing stood,
I slily ran, and snatch'd a hasty kiss,
She wip'd her lips, nor took it much amiss.
Believe me, Cuddy, while I'm bold to say,
Her breath was sweeter than the ripen'd hay.CUDDY

As my Buxoma in a morning fair,
With gentle finger strok'd her milky care,
I quaintly stole a kiss; at first, 'tis true,
She frown'd, yet after granted one or two.
Lobbin, I swear, believe who will my vows,
Her breath by far excell'd the breathing cows.LOBBIN CLOUT

Leek to the Welsh, to Dutchmen butter's dear,
Of Irish swains potato is the cheer;
Oats for their feasts, the Scottish shepherds grind,
Sweet turnips are the food of Blouzelind.
While she loves turnips, butter I'll despise,
Nor leeks nor oatmeal nor potato prize.CUDDY

In good roast-beef my landlord sticks his knife,
The capon fat delights his dainty wife,
Pudding our parson eats, the squire loves hare,
But white-pot thick is my Buxoma's fare.
While she loves white-pot, capon ne'er shall be,
Nor hare, nor beef, nor pudding, food for me.
Forbear, contending louts, give o'er your strains,
An oaken staff each merits for his pains.
But see the sun-beams bright to labour warn,
And gild the thatch of goodman Hodges' barn.
Your herds for want of water stand adry,
They're weary of your songs--and so am I.
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