1779 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

Herbert, "To a Young Lady, with the Works of Mr. Shenstone" Weekly Miscellany [Sherborne] 12 (30 May 1779) 215.



To thee, whose breast (unlike our modern Dames)
Ne'er feels a taste for Scandal's grov'ling themes;
Whom education nobly doth inspire,
With ardent love of each harmonious lyre.

To thee, the humblest of the Muses train,
This work presents — nor thou the gift disdain.
Here the extremes of Hope, Love, Joy, we find;
Those finer feelings of the tutor'd mind.

In ev'ry line your Shenstone's eye appears
Dissolv'd in Melancholy's silent tears.
Still to his mind Life's vain and fleeting shade,
Creative Fancy's magic pow'r display'd.

Hence early from its bursting cares he fled,
To hold sweet converse with the learned dead.
Fir'd with the love of ev'ry art sublime;
But most engag'd by soul-enchanting rhyme.

His small estate while Genius fair improv'd,
His numbers grac'd the rural scenes he lov'd.
Here the sweet Bard enjoy'd his wish'd retreat,
Till Love's intrusive cares disturb'd his breast.

Here in the vocal grove, or pensive shade,
He sung the praises of his charming maid.
But nor his music, nor his ardent love,
Could e'er his Delia's heart unfeeling move.

At length, with grief oppress'd he ceas'd to sing:
No more the groves with Delia's praises ring.
Mute lies the lyre which bade the woods proclaim,
In chearful sounds, the perjur'd fair one's name.

With what invectives shall the Muse pursue
Th' ungen'rous deed? Is this the guerdon due
To Love, to Genius? Ah! too cruel fair!
Can female bosoms drive us to Despair?

If o'er his tomb with softer heart you mourn,
And straight condemn his Delia's hard return;
Should work, like his, some future day aspire
To raise the flame of every young desire,
Ah! feel the impulse of a gen'rous mind,
On Delia think, nor be like her — UNKIND.
Market-Street,
Plymouth-Dock.