by John Byrom (1692 - 1763)

My time, O ye Muses, was happily spent
Language: English 
My time, O ye Muses, was happily spent,
When Phoebe went with me wherever I went;
Ten thousand sweet pleasures I felt in my breast:
Sure never fond shepherd like Colin was blest!
But now she [is]1 gone, and has left me behind,
What [a]2 marvellous change on a sudden I find!
When things were as fine as could possibly be,
I thought 'twas the Spring; but alas! it was she.

With such a companion to tend a few sheep,
To rise up and play, or to lie down and sleep:
I was so good-humoured, so cheerful and gay,
My heart was as light as a feather all day;
But now I so cross and so peevish am grown,
So strangely uneasy, as never was known.
My fair one is gone, and my joys are all drowned,
And my heart -- I am sure it weighs more than a pound.

The fountain that wont to run sweetly along,
And dance to soft murmurs the pebbles among;
Thou know'st, little Cupid, if Phoebe was there,
'Twas pleasure to look at, 'twas music to hear:
But now she is absent, I walk by its side,
And still, as it murmurs, do nothing but chide;
Must you be so cheerful, while I go in pain?
Peace there with your bubbling, and hear me complain.

My lambkins around me would oftentimes play,
And Phoebe and I were as joyful as they;
How pleasant their sporting, how happy their time,
When Spring, Love, and Beauty, were all in their prime!
But now, in their frolics when by me they pass,
I fling at their fleeces a handful of grass:
Be still, then, I cry, for it makes me quite mad,
To see you so merry while I am so sad.

My dog I was ever well pleased to see
Come wagging his tail to my fair one and me;
And Phoebe was pleased too, and to my dog said,
'Come hither, poor fellow;' and patted his head.
But now, when he's fawning, I with a sour look
Cry 'Sirrah;' and give him a blow with my crook:
And I'll give him another; for why should not Tray
Be as dull as his master, when Phoebe's away?

When walking with Phoebe, what sights have I seen,
How fair was the flower, how fresh was the green!
What a lovely appearance the trees and the shade,
The corn-fields and hedges, and everything made!
But now she has left me, though all are still there,
They none of them now so delightful appear:
'Twas nought but the magic, I find, of her eyes,
Made so many beautiful prospects arise.

Sweet music went with us both all the wood through,
The lark, linnet, throstle, and nightingale too;
Winds over us whispered, flocks by us did bleat,
And chirp went the grasshopper under our feet.
But now she is absent, though still they sing on,
The woods are but lonely, the melody's gone:
Her voice in the concert, as now I have found,
Gave everything else its agreeable sound.

Rose, what [is]1 become of thy delicate hue?
And where is the violet's beautiful blue?
Does aught of its sweetness the blossom beguile?
That meadow, those daisies, why do they not smile?
[Ah! rivals, I see]3 what it was that you dressed,
And made yourselves fine for -- a place [in]4 her breast:
You put on your colours to pleasure her eye,
To be plucked by her hand, on her bosom to die.

How slowly Time creeps till my Phoebe return!
While amidst the soft zephyr's cool breezes I burn:
Methinks, if I knew whereabouts he would tread,
I could breathe on his wings, and 'twould melt down the lead.
Fly swifter, ye minutes, bring hither my dear,
And rest so much longer for't when she is here.
Ah, Colin! old Time is full of delay,
Nor will budge one foot faster for all thou canst say.

Will no pitying power, that hears me complain,
Or cure my disquiet, or soften my pain?
To be cured, thou must, Colin, thy passion remove;
But what swain is so silly to live without love!
No, deity, bid the dear nymph to return,
For ne'er was poor shepherd so sadly forlorn.
Ah! what shall I do? I shall die with despair;
Take heed, all ye swains, how ye [part with your]5 fair.

K. Wiggin sets stanza 1, 8 (lines 1-6), 10 (lines 7-8)

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Wiggin: "has"
2 omitted by Wiggin.
3 Wiggin: "Oh roses, I know"
4 Wiggin: "on"
5 Wiggin: "love one so"


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Ferdinando Albeggiani

This text was added to the website: 2009-01-10
Line count: 80
Word count: 726