Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
A Ballad: ‘’Twas when the seas were roaring’
By John Gay (1685–1732)
 
’TWAS 1 when the seas were roaring
  With hollow blasts of wind;
A damsel lay deploring,
  All on a rock reclin’d.
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, vent’rous 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 di’monds 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 wand’ring 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 bow’d her head and died.        40
 
Note 1. From The Beggars’ Opera, act ii, sc. 8, 1728. [back]
 
 
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