A village maid in lowly guise
With rosy cheeks and hazel eyes
With lips that wore the sweetest smile
A cheerful heart and void of guile;
One eve that clos’d the brightest day
That ever graced the reign of May
To cherish health and seek for flowers
Roam’d forth, amidst the fields and bowers.
The modest primrose, simply gay
That cheers the woodman’s footpath way,
The daisies, kiss’d with crimson hue,
And golden cups, and violets blue
That breathing round their odours sweet
Betray their shady close retreat;
And cheerful cowslips that adorn
The verdant mead; and blossom’d thorn
Whose pearly buds, and cherry flow’rs
Give fragrance to the vernal bow’rs,
All these she cull’d, all these and more
Which nature from her bounteous store
In dens by night, and showers by day
Pours in the loss of blooming May.
Say reader could thy heart of pride
The simple village maid deride
Say, could’st thou go and rudely tear
Her nosegay, cull’d with so much care;
And could’st thou proudly laugh to scorn
Her violets blue, her blossom’d thorn,
Could’st thou her artless smiles despise
Her rosy cheeks, and hazel eyes,
Oh if thou could’st away, away,
For thee I do not tune the lay
So give the useless labor o’er
And close the book and read no more;
For like the maiden of my song
I — pacing life’s dull road along
Have oft my idle hours beguil’d
In wand’ring through the woodlands wild,
Or o’er the meads that sweetly spread
Beneath Parnassus’ airy head
And there I’ve cull’d, (but not for Thee)
A few wild flowers of poesy —
Not such, as grac’d the rocky height
Where Homer sing’d his daring flight,
Or in the cultured garden grew,
From where his beauties Virgil drew,
Or where our Milton used to twine
His wreaths of amaranth divine;
No — mine are simple flowers that grow
Close in the sheltered lake below
But some with prouder plants may vie
In fragrant scent, and brilliant dye
And gentle souls who not disdain
To wander o’er the uncultured plain
Who nature’s simple charms admire
Her modest mien, and mild attire
Well pleased my rosied flowers will view
And praise their fragrance and their hue;
But thy proud heart and hearts like thine
Will spurn such humble wreaths as mine
Thy pedant soul and critic eyes
Will scorn the blooms I fondly prize:
But reader couldest thou go with me
The simple village maid to see,
Say could’st thou join her as she races
Along the meads and through the graces,
Could’st thou for her the flowrets choose
Of sweetest scent and liveliest hues,
And as the maid approves the choice
Say reader could’t thou then rejoice
To see her grateful smiles arise,
Her glowing cheeks and sparkling eyes
Oh! if thou could’st proceed, proceed,
My tales and simple songs to read
Oh if thou could’st be friend of mine
For gentle is that heart of thine —
Oh ponder well, ye parents dear
To save a wretched life
Nor roast young dames at kitchen fires,
Tho’ daughter, maid, or wife.
Sir Argus was a gallant knight
Large, both of flesh and bone;
And many a devil dipped in black,
Waited this knight upon.
He printed shop-bills great and small
And stuck them in the Streets
Which pasted on both bulk and stall
The gaping stranger meets.
They told of giants ten feet high,
And dwarfs again so small,
And when York waggons leave the north,
To creep for Leadenhall.
Play-bills, quack nostrums, London news,
To make folk read and stare,
Deaths, marriages, lost puppy dogs,
And price of crockery ware.
So mighty were this great knight’s deeds
So talked of everywhere,
The eldermen determined straight,
To choose him for Lord Mayor!
That he should wear a red-furr’d gown,
And eke a golden chain,
And stuff down turtle all day long,
With all his might and main.
These tidings to Sir Argus came
In South-gate where he lay
Who called out “Wife, make haste down,”
Then thus, to her did say.
He said, “Oh wife, I’m chose Lord Mayor,
You shall be dressed so fine,
Plaster’d with laces gold, and pearl,
Whene’er we go to dine.”
“Two lusty yeomen thou shalt have
Whose bellies and round faces
Shall grace black gowns, with tassels dight
And walk before, with maces.”
“But now we talk of dinner, love
A dinner we must give
To deputies and aldermen
As surely as we live.”
“Husband,” the courteous dame replies
“Who shall this feast prepare?
For I must have the livelong day
To dress and curl my hair.”
“To put on jewels and good gear,
As heart can e’er desire,
Which sputtering grease and cooks would spoil
Too near a kitchen fire.”
“There’s daughter Grace,” the Mayor replies,
“Will see the dinner done
She can make plasters, pies, puff paste,
And poultice all alone!”
Fair Grace into the kitchen went,
With bib & tucker too,
To see the cook spit all the meat
And boil, roast, fry, and stew.
Compositors the pudding stirred
And devils turned the spits!
While scullions slopped the scalding grease,
As if out of their wits!
Here’s your health Grace, don’t be so shy
Why you’ve no need to stare,
I hope girl you’ll be married soon —
And make a good Lord Mayor!
The aldermen drank to their Lord
With cups fill’d to the brim
And wish’d his sons and daughters all!
Might be Lord Mayor’s like him!
Fair Grace on conquest still intent
Looked for some generous youth
Whom she might rob of peace of mine
Unless he plighted truth.
A soldier and a parson too,
She struck with secret glance,
They dizzy grew, & plunged, & kicked,
As if in antic dance.
At length from off their chairs they fell,
And sprawled upon the floor,
The folks all thinking they were dead,
Soon bore them to the door!
Ye hapless youths knew not your fate
When ye went there to dine,
But now cheer up, they’re not quite dead
With love — nor rosy wine!
They sang and drank, and roared aloud
All those that came to dine
And all were laid flat on the floor
By Grace’s eyes — and wine!
Then bless the Mayor and aldermen
And send them store of meat
With more good wine and sugar sops
Than they can drink, or eat!