'O LITTLE shepherdesses fresh and fair,
Say whither do you come so soft and rare?
Say, whither lies the land where you were born,
Where sweeter fruits than any do betide?
With radiant smiles your faces you adorn,
Yet neither gold nor silver is your pride,
I trow Love fashioned you with him to bide,
Angels you seem yet tattered raiment wear! '
'We live upon a hill beside some trees;
Humble our cot, we sleep in tiny bed
Both one and all together at our ease
When homewards we our gentle flocks have led
At eventide; by nature we are fed
Day after day in flowery meadows fair.'
95 'Your loveliness might well indeed make moan,
Which only among hills and vales is seen,
Though the proud cities of the world would own
It worthy to hold honourably, I ween!
Poor lassies, had you not far happier been
Out of these woods in more refinèd air? '
'Nay, we are well contented with our fate,
And, when we tend our flocks in pastures bright,
Merrier we are than you who go in state
To revel in your chamber shuttered tight;
Riches we do not crave nor gold delight,
But weave gay songs and garlands for our hair! '
O Ballad, were I now as long ago,
I'd be a shepherd lad upon a hill;
I'd mark these lassies' goings, but none should know;
I'd seek their company with a right good will;
For ever we'd be calling 'Jack' and 'Jill,'
And wheresoe'er they went I'd follow there.
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