The Shepherd Swain

The Shepherd Swain

All in a morning of May ,
A rather bleak May morning ,
My friends and companions scorning ,
I wandered the woodland way :
That is to say
I lurked beneath the few trees yet remaining,
Because I had no hat , and it was raining .
The while I thought to frame a pastoral song
Tuned to the rude pipe of some rustic swain .
This did not take me long .
So sad my music , yet so sweet the strain
I could not choose but weep :
The sky wept with me in a swirl of rain
And by this sign I knew my song was good .
I thought to go and sing it to the sheep
So turned my collar up and left the wood ,
Skirted the meadow , plashed across the stream ,
And came upon them unexpectedly :
With moving mouths they stood ,
Their long mild faces all incurious ,
Like a row of American airmen chewing gum ;
They made me furious .
“Up , fleecy flock! ” said I , “The spring is come ,
Why do you loiter undirectedly ?
Shake off your sheepish dream .
Caper and prance and bound
(As Wordsworth bade you ) to the tabor’s sound !
Ah, let your guileless glee
A dumb rebuke , a fitting lesson be
To miserable me ,
Unhappy swain , sad shepherd that I am !”
They stood and gazed at me without reply .
I measured glances with the nearest lamb :
The first to blush was I .

[ 18 crossed out and 17 written above ]
18 May 1954