Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
A Ballad from The What d’ye Call It
By John Gay (1685–1732)
’TWAS when the seas were roaring
  With hollow blasts of wind;
A damsel lay deploring,
  All on a rock reclined.
Wide o’er the rolling billows        5
  She cast a wistful look;
Her head was crowned with willows,
  That tremble o’er the brook.
‘Twelve months are gone and over,
  And nine long tedious days.        10
Why didst thou, venturous lover,
  Why didst thou trust the seas?
Cease, cease, thou cruel ocean,
  And let my lover rest:
Ah! what ’s thy troubled motion        15
  To that within my breast?
‘The merchant, robbed of pleasure,
  Sees tempests in despair;
But what ’s the loss of treasure,
  To losing of my dear?        20
Should you some coast be laid on
  Where gold and diamonds grow,
You ’d find a richer maiden,
  But none that loves you so.
‘How can they say that nature        25
  Has nothing made in vain;
Why then beneath the water,
  Should hideous rocks remain?
No eyes the rocks discover
  That lurk beneath the deep,        30
To wreck the wandering lover,
  And leave the maid to weep.’
All melancholy lying,
  Thus wailed she for her dear;
Repaid each blast with sighing,        35
  Each billow with a tear.
When, o’er the white wave stooping
  His floating corpse she spied;
Then, like a lily drooping,
  She bowed her head, and died.        40

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