1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

John Williams, "Ode to Simplicity, written at the Leasowes, Dec. 1, 1788" European Magazine 14 (December 1788) 477.



Haste, pallid nymph, forego thy moss-crown'd cell,
Clad in thy milk-white vest,
By Nature woven, by the Graces drest:
Come seek the adust retreat of these lone groves,
Where SHENSTONE breath'd, ere Fate had rung his knell,
And join the requiem of confederate loves.
Can you forget how oft in wooing you,
He artless led the passions in a throng?
No suppliant ever felt a flame more true,
And wit and beauty mingled in his song.
Tho' Nepthe blaz'd, her brows with myrtle twin'd,
Not all her loveliness could shake his constant mind.
In the meridian of his quiet day,
When gentle Reason had matur'd his youth;
The relatives of Onus bless that lay
He gave to you, and gave it with his truth.
Pure were his morals as the Patriarchs thought,
And heaven approv'd the dogma Fancy taught.
Ah me, that breast which glow'd with patriot fire,
Beneath this grass-green mantle lies entomb'd!
Cold is that nerve which harmoniz'd the lyre,
And all his bright'ning faculties consum'd:
Come then, such fallen excellence deplore,
His harp's unstrung, his minstrelsy is o'er.