From me who whileom sung the Town


A Ballad to Mrs Catherine Fleming in London from Malshanger farm in Hampshire

Primary Texts:

MS's: Wellesley, 89-91*; Harleian 7316, 47r-8v (with its companion poem to Mrs Fleming "at Coleshill", Annotated Chronology No 249).


From me who whileom sung the Town
This second Ballad comes:
To let you know we are got down,
From hurry,smoke, & drums:
And every visitor that rowls
In restless Coach from Mall to Paul's
With a fl-la-la-la-la-la.


And now were I to paint the seat,
(As well-bred poets use;)
I sho'd embellish our retreat,
By favour of the muse:
Tho' to no villa we pretend,
But a plain farm at the best end
With a fa-la &c


Where innocence & quiet reigns,
And no distrust is known;
His nightly safety none maintains,
But ways they do in Town:
Who rising loosen bolt and bar,
We draw the lach and out we are.
With a fa-la &c


For jarring sounds in London streets,
With still are passing by;
Where cowcumbers with Sando meets,
And for loud mastry vie:
The driver whistling to his team,
Here wakes us from some rural dream
With a fa-la &c


From rising hills thro' distant views;
We see the Sun decline;
Whislt every where the eye persues
The grazeing flocks are kine:
Which home at night the Farmer brings
And not the Post's but sheeps bell rings
With a fa-la &c


We silver trouts and Cray-fish eat,
Just taken from the stream;
And never think our meal compleat,
Without frsh curds and cream:
And as we pass by the barn floor,
We choose our supper fromt he door.
With a fa-la &c


Beneath our feet the partridge springs,
As to the woods we go;
Where birds scarce stretch their painted wings,
So little fear they shew
But when our outspread hoops they spy
They look when we like them shou'd fly.
Wtih a fa-la &c


Thro' verdant circles as we stray,
To which no end we know;
As we o'er hanging boughs survey,
And tufted grass below:
Delight into the fancy falls,
And happy days and verse recalls
With a fa-la &c


Oh! why did I these shades forsake,
And shelter of the grave;
The flowring shrub the rustlng brake,
The solitude I love:
Where Emperours have fixt their lot,
And greatly chose to be forgot.
With a fa-la &c


Then how can I from hence depart,
Unless my pleasing friend;
Shou'd now her sweet harmonious art,
Until these shades extend:
And like old Orpheus powerfull song,
Draw me and all my woods along*
With a fa-la &c


So charm'd like Birnam's they wou'd rise,
And march in goodly row;
But since it might the town surprize,
To see me travel so:
I must from soothing joys like these,
Too soon return in open chaise
With a fa-la &c


Mean while accept what I have writ,
To shew this rural scene;
Nor look for sharp satyrick wit,
From off the balmy plain:
The country breeds no throny bays,
But mirth and love and honest praise.
With a fa-la-la-la-la-la

*Spenser imitated.

Secondary Eds:

Rpt of 1929 Hughes, 1987 Thomson, 76-9; 1988 Ellis d'Alessandro prints Wellesley text, 119-21; McGovern & Hinnant, 56-59.


1910 Dowden prints Stanzas 1, 4,-5, 7 (out of 12); 1929 Hughes prints Wellesley text, 627-9; rpt of 1929 Hughes: 1990 Lonsdale, 23-5; 1992 McGovern 207-9. No-one has printed the companion "city ballad" in Harleian 7316.


Wonderful performance; Anne Finch draws deep pleasure and hope from country landscape and life. Hughes long ago noted that the wording of this one implies there was another. Now both are known to anyone who comes to my site and read s the material here.


After December 24, 1718 (date of city ballad to Mrs Fleming at Coleshill, to which this refers).
Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 8 January 2003