1759 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

James Woodhouse, "Elegy II. Written to William Shenstone, Esq. of the Leasowes" 1759; Poems on Several Occasions by James Woodhouse, a Journeyman Shoemaker (1764) 9-15.



A rude presumptuous muse, uncheck'd,
More favour'd than she could expect,
Again replumes her feeble wing,
And thus, again, essays to sing.

Serenely smil'd the festal day,
Inviting to thy shades away;
No sable clouds, thro' heav'n's domain,
With angry frown, foreboded rain;
No wide-mouth'd EOL, blust'ring loud,
To tumults rouz'd his factious crowd;
Thin flying vapours veil'd the sun,
But soon, unmask'd, he clearly shone:
Here, golden lustre free from stains;
There, flitting shadows patch'd the plains.

And O thou steel enchanter, hail!
Thou canst o'er bolts and bars prevail;
[Author's note: The key before requested.]
Thy magic touch gives free access,
Nor leaves occasion to transgress:
More I could sing, for more's thy meed;
But now I leave thee, and proceed.
FAVONIUS rov'd the shades among,
Suffus'd with fragrance and with song;
All jocund play'd his balmy breeze
Among the flow'rs, among the trees;
Pilf'ring from each transpiring sweets,
Then, with the spoil, each wand'rer greets.
Distant the swan, elate and vain,
Sail'd stately o'er the wat'ry plain;
His ermin'd breast the pool divides,
And, while soft parting from his sides,
The widening waves his paths betray,
Beneath his oars distending play;
He snorts contempt, his neck he turns,
And ever feather'd vassal spurns.

Though these delights around me throng,
And thousands that remain unsung;
Yet, hapless I! still doom'd to moan,
I found my kind MECENAS gone:
No friendly partner in my grief,
By sympathy to give relief;
Except the weeping fount below,
(Whose crystal tears for ever flow)
Which through the verdant lichen crept,
And smil'd the more, the more it wept.
But let me other woes bemoan,
Than what attended me alone.

Here, ruthless crowds, disdaining bounds,
Climb'd o'er thy gates, leap'd all thy mounds;
There, pathless lawns and meadows crost,
And through the crashing fences burst.
Ye Nymphs and Fauns, my wish befriend!
Ye Dryads all, assistance lend!
Oh! lead them through your mazy shade,
To thorns and quivering bogs betray'd.
See where yon island lifts its head,
The boat for social pleasure made,
Seiz'd by the same tumultuous band,
And driving from its peaceful stand
To break the tender osier's shoots,
To bare or bruise its matted roots.
Ye Naiads, guardians of these streams,
Defend what your protection claims.
Ye clouds, pour down your vengeful showers;
Let EOL too unite his powers,
To raise the storm to heave them o'er,
And send them duck'd, half-drown'd, to shore.

Embracing here this alder fair,
Led by the fost'ring hand of care,
A twining woodbine rear'd its head,
And, once, mellifluent odour shed;
Now sever'd by some trait'rous knife,
Lies robb'd of fragrance, verdure, life!
Surely such sweetness might assuage
The fell assassin's murd'rous rage!
What hellish daemon was his guide
To rob thee of thy blooming pride?
May heaviest rains on him descend!
No friendly tree its shelter lend!
But, from their leafy sides and tops,
Drench him with pond'rous, chilling drops!
Or, wilder'd in the blackest night,
May screaming owls his ears affright!
And, if his breast a woodbine bear,
May withering mildews blast it there!

What though each avenue thou bar;
Yet insufficient's all thy care:
Except thy watchful eye attend,
Who shall thy blithesome scenes defend?
Let not thy generous hand refuse
This second offering of my muse;
But still thy friendship let me boast,
Or — I am in oblivion lost!
As PHOEBUS, thy great system's soul,
Lights up the orbs that round him roll;
Let me, though at such distance plac'd,
With thy extended ray be blest!
My whole ambition is to shine
By one reflected beam from thine.
At the close of June,
1759.