1756 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

John Scott Hylton, "Verses, written in the Gardens of William Shenstone, Esq. near Birmingham, 1756" London Chronicle (26 August 1758) 192.



Would you these lov'd recesses trace,
And view fair Nature's modest face?
See her in every field-flow'r bloom?
O'er every thicket shed perfume?
By verdant groves, and vocal hills,
By mossy grotts near purling rills,
Where'er you turn your wondering eyes,
Behold her win, without disguise!

What tho' no pageant trifles here,
As in the glare of courts, appear;
Tho' rarely here be heard the name
Of rank, of title, pow'r, or fame;
Yet, if ingenuous be your mind,
A bliss more pure, and unconfin'd
Your step attends — draw freely nigh,
And meet the Bard's benignant eye:
On him no pedant forms await;
No proud reserve shuts up his gate;
No spleen, no party-views controul
His warm benevolence of soul,
Regardless of the world's acclaim;
And courteous with no selfish aim.
Draw freely nigh, and welcome find,
If not the costly, yet the kind:
O! he will lead you to the cells,
Where every muse and virtue dwells;
Where the green Dryads guard his woods;
Where the blue Naids guide his floods;
Where all the sister-graces, gay,
That shap'd his walk's meandering way,
Stark-naked, or but wreath'd with flow'rs,
Lie slumbering soft beneath his bow'rs.

Wak'd by the stock-dove's melting strain
Behold them rise! and, with the train
Of nymphs that haunt the stream or grove,
Or o'er the flowery champain rove,
Join hand in hand — attentive gaze—
And mark the dance's mystick maze.

"Such is the waving line, they cry,
For ever dear to Fancy's eye!
Yon' stream that wanders down the dale,
The spiral wood, the winding vale,
The path, which wrought with hidden skill,
Slow-twining scales yon distant hill
With fir invested — all combine
To recommend the waving line.

"The wreathed rod of Bacchus fair,
The ringlets of Apollo's hair,
The wand by Maia's offspring born,
The smooth volutes of Ammon's horn,
The structure of the Cyprian dame,
And each fair female's beauteous frame
Shew, to the pupils of design,
The triumphs of the waving line."

Then gaze, and mark that union sweet,
Where fair convex and concave meet:
And while, quick-shining as you stray,
The vivid scenes on fancy play;
The lawn, of aspect smooth and mild;
The forest-ground, grotesque and wild;
The shrub, that scents the mountain gale;
The stream rough-dashing down the dale
From rock to rock, in eddies tost;
The distant lake, in which 'tis lost;
Blue hills, gay-beaming thro' the glade;
Lone urns that solemnize the shade;
Sweet interchange of all that charms
In groves, meads, dingles, riv'lets, farms!
If aught the fair confusion please,
With lasting health, and lasting ease
To him, who form'd the blissful bow'r,
And gave thy life one tranquil hour;
With peace and freedom — these possest,
His temperate mind secures the rest.

But if thy soul such bliss despise,
Avert thy dull incurious eyes;
Go fix them there, where gems and gold,
Improv'd by art, their pow'r unfold;
Go scorn simplicity! but know,
That all our heart felt joys below,
That all which virtue loves to name,
Which art consigns to lasting fame,
Which fixes wit, or beauty's throne,
Derives it's source from her alone.
ARCADIO.