1763 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

Richard Graves, "To Mr. Robert Dodsley on the Death of Mr. Shenstone" Euphrosyne: or, Amusements on the Road of Life (1776) 293-95.



'Tis past, my friend; the transient scene is clos'd!
The fairy pile, th' enchanted vision, rais'd
By Damon's magic skill, is lost in air!

What tho' the lawns and pendent woods remain?
Each tinkling stream, each rushing cataract,
With lapse incessant echoes thro' the dale!
Yet what avails the lifeless landskip now?
The charm's dissolv'd; the Genius of the wood,
Alas! is flown; for Damon is no more!

As when from fair Lycaeum crown'd with pines,
Or Menalus, with leaves autumnal strew'd,
The tuneful Pan retires, the vocal hills
Resound no more; and all Arcadia mourns.

Yet here we fondly dreamt of lasting bliss:
Here we had hop'd, from noisy throngs retir'd,
To drink large draughts of Friendship's cordial stream,
In sweet oblivion wrap'd by Damon's verse,
And social converse, many a Summer's day.

Romantic wish! in vain frail mortals trace
Th' imperfect sketch of human bliss! Whilst yet
Th' enraptur'd sire his well-plann'd structure views
Majestic rising 'midst his infant groves,
Sees the dark laurel spread its glossy shade,
Its languid bloom the purple lilac blend,
Or pale laburnum drop its pensile chain,
Death spreads the fatal shaft — and bids his heir
Transplant the cypress round his father's tomb.

Oh! teach me then, like you, my Friend, to raise
To moral truths my grov'ling song: for, ah!
Too long, by lawless fancy led astray,
Of haunted groves I've dreamt, and dancing Fawns,
Or Naiads weeping o'er their tinkling urns.
Oh! could I learn to sanctify my strains
With hymns, like those by tuneful Meyrick sung!—
Or rather catch the melancholy sounds
From Warton's reed, or Mason's lyre, to paint
The sudden gloom that damps my soul — But see!
Melpomene herself has snatch'd the pipe
With which sad Lyttelton his Lucia mourn'd,
And plaintive cries, "My Shenstone is no more!"