1793 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

Captain John Majoribanks, "Written in a Volume of Shenstone" Pieces in Rhyme (1793) 21-23.



Hail, happy bard! whose peaceful hours
In sweet retirement pass'd!
Who, shelter'd in thy native bow'rs,
Ne'er felt one angry blast!

No sudden call, no harsh command,
Disturb'd thy life of ease;
To drag thee to some distant land,
O'er wide tempestuous seas.

No woes had'st ever thou to wail
On any foreign shore;
But trode the fair and flow'ry vale,
Thy fathers trode before.

For thee the vernal roses sprung;
The fruits of Autumn grew;
The lark and linnet sweetly sung;
The zephyrs softly blew.

The happy peasants all around
Pursu'd their pleasing toil;
Who dug no foreign master's ground,
But till'd their parent soil.

There slavery's voice was never heard
In anguish to complain—
No lash to goad, — the freeman's spurr'd
By cheerful hopes of gain.

Beside the little lucid stream,
You sung some rural maid,
Nor did one sickly sultry beam
E'er search thy summer shade.

If e'er in absence doom'd to mourn;
How short the parting way!
No furious oceans barr'd return;
No duty claim'd thy stay!

And tho' (so tasteless was the fair!)
Thy DELIA was unkind;
Yet BRITAIN, where no beauty's rare,
Had DELIAS more behind.

How gently slipt thy life away!
Like streams without a wave—
In calm and undisturb'd decay,
You found a humble grave!

Tho' no vain marble rear its head,
To boast a name so fair;
Yet ev'ry fav'rite flow'r shall shed
Its sweetest fragrance there.

The gentle zephyr, as it blows,
Shall spread its odours round.
The limpid water, as it flows,
Shall kiss the sacred ground.

The weeping villagers shall there
Their heart-felt homage pay;
And tell, by ev'ry honest tear,
What pomp could never say.

There shall the faithful Philomel
These vespers nightly tune:
"Alas! that he, who sung so well,
Should cease to sing so soon!"