1763 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

Edward Cooper, "The Sequestered Bard. An Elegy" Gentleman's Magazine 33 (February 1763) 90.



Clad in a sable pall, now frowns the sky,
In negro-darkness o'er the visto'd scene:
Now sheeted sprights from restless graves do fly,
And now they trip it o'er the twilight green.

Perhaps still mindful of their wonted home,
Indulgent wait on dearest friends on earth,
In vehicles of air unseen they roam,
And oft frequent the place that gave 'em birth.

The well-tim'd aid of Vesper's twinkling urn,
Directs my steps to yonder time-struck tow'r,
There, as in short-liv'd passion, oft I burn,
These melancholy musings thus I pour.

Full many a flow'ret blushing to the sun,
That scents the sweetness of the eastern morn,
Inglorious oft its little life does run
Nor once the bosom of the fair adorn.

Or near the bubbling of some weeping stream,
Oft its sequester'd sweetness did it breathe,
Where the coy damsel sleeps in pleasing dream,
Or where the decent graves in briery order heave.

Poetic youths in many an unknown home,
Musing in pensive wailings oft we find,
Perhaps the thymy heath they saunt'ring roam,
Or court in wayward strains the fleeting wind.

The chilling blasts of icy winter's frost,
Too oft the virgin primrose nip severe,
And many a friend by Envy's breath is lost,
Nor claims a tribute of a sigh sincere.

How many Shakspeares have there liv'd alone,
And Drydens, thankless in their poorer day!
And many a pensive Gray we've seen, unknown,
Who to the world has still refus'd his lay.

Haply, on Edgar's hallow'd lips, the fire
Of Daedal fancy might have charm'd the day,
Haply, the sacred veh'mence of his lyre
Might chace the white-wing'd minutes fast away.

Yet still the breath of Penury severe,
Ah! too untimely, nipt the tender shoot—
If such the first attempt, then much we fear
The product of our pains, "the rip'ning fruit."

The widow'd blackbird oft is heard to moan
Her hapless consort's melancholy fate,
And many a helpless swain now droops forlorn
O'er the dusk lawn, and does this tale relate.

But still some breast with gen'rous ardour glows,
To guard fair Science in this favour'd isle,
Not all to poetry alike are foes,
But deign the grace of an applauding smile.

'Twas Shenstone's choice to raise with gentlest care
The tender shoot of blooming Fancy's tree,
To stamp a genuine mark on what was rare,
And bid each muse fir'd poet "dare be free."

How oft, as through the Arcadian groves he stray'd,
The glad'ning impulse did his soul inspire,
How oft reclining in the bow'ry shade,
Wake into extasy the muse's lyre!

Sweet moralist! the pride of Albion's coast,
Fell a sad victim to tyrannic Death;
To Dods—y me, and to his country lost,
When Shenstone's tuneful lips resign'd their breath.

To thee, my Shenstone, gratitude shall pay
This duteous tribute of a sigh sincere,
And, true to Honour's never-venal lay,
These accents shall pursue thy sacred bier.
Philander, Worcestershire