1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

James Jennings, "Lines extempore, designed for the first Leaf of an Album. For the Leasowes" Jennings, Prospects of Africa (1814) 96-97.



Rude truth ingenuous must the minstrel sing
Who midst these wilds hath wandered with regret,
Behold! o'er ruins wave our Shenstone's groves,
And the long grass round many a poet's urn
Rankles and rots; where erst the classic seat,
Which Lyttelton or Thomson deign'd to grace,
Lies down the grass-fed ox, or roving sheep
Herd and intrude; no welcome visitants,
Save to the wight whom fate hath o'er these shades
Unseemly plac'd; the waters roll reproof,
And many a spring a gurgling censure heaves.
Spirit of Shenstone! ne'er forgive the wrong—
The foul offence against the laws of taste!
And ye O sylvan shades! who even now,
Amid the ruin rudely scatter'd round,
Inspire the song of other days, and wake
Such better feeling, which even Shenstone's self
Might envy the possession; — mark the steps
Of that unseemly wight, whose foul neglect
Your very roots shall tell, O let him hear
Nor linnet, nor the thrush, nor nightingale
Amongst your quivering leaves; but, in their stead,
Let the owls' daily and nocturnal hoot
For ever round his dwelling still be heard.
Ye waters murmur not; ye groves your shade
With-hold; and let the summer sun's hot ray
Scorch him in punishment for such foul wrong.