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Ah! why was ruin so attractive made,
O cease, my fears! All frantic as I go, When thought creates unnumbered scenes of wo, What if the lion in his rage I meet! Oft in the dust I view his printed feet; And fearful oft, when Day's declining light Yields her pale empire to the mourner Night, By hunger roused he scours the groaning plain, Gaunt wolves and sullen tigers in his train; Before them Death with shrieks directs their way, Fills the wild yell, and leads them to their prey. 'Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day, When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!'
At that dead hour the silent asp shall creep, If aught of rest I find, upon my sleep; Or some swoln serpent twist his scales around, And wake to anguish with a burning wound. Thrice happy they, the wise contented poor, From lust of wealth and dread of death secure! They tempt no deserts, and no griefs they find; Peace rules the day where reason rules the mind. 'Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day, When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!' O hapless youth! for she thy love hath won, The tender Zara! will be most undone. Big swelled my heart, and owned the powerful maid, When fast she dropped her tears, as thus she said: 'Farewell the youth whom sighs could not detain, Whom Zara's breaking heart implored in vain! Yet as thou go'st, may every blast arise Weak and unfelt as these rejected sighs; Safe o'er the wild no perils may'st thou see, No griefs endure, nor weep, false youth! like me.' 'O! let me safely to the fair return, Say with a kiss, she must not, shall not mourn; O! let me teach my heart to lose its fears, Recalled by Wisdom's voice and Zara's tears.'
He said, and called on Heaven to bless the day When back to Schiraz' walls he bent his way.
Ode Written in the Year 1746.
How sleep the brave who sink to rest, By all their country's wishes blest? When Spring, with dewy fingers cold, Returns to deck their hallowed mould, She there shall dress a sweeter sod, Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.
By fairy hands their knell is rung,
Ode to Evening.
If aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song,
Oh nymph reserved, while now the bright-haired sun
With brede ethereal wove,
Now air is hushed, save where the weak-eyed bat,
As oft he rises midst the twilight path,
Whose numbers stealing through thy darkening vale
Thy genial loved return!
For when thy folding-star arising shows
And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge,
Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene,
Or if chill blustering winds, or driving rain,
And hamlets brown, and dim-discovered spires,
While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont,
While sallow autumn fills thy lap with leaves, Or Winter yelling through the troublous air, Affrights thy shrinking train,
And rudely rends thy robes:
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace,
Thy gentlest influence own, And love thy favourite name!
Ode on the Passions.
When Music, heavenly maid! was young,
Next Anger rushed, his eyes on fire
With woful measures wan Despair,
And longer had she sung, but with a frown
Revenge impatient rose;
He threw his blood-stained sword in thunder down,
And, with a withering look,
The war-denouncing trumpet took,
And blew a blast so loud and dread,
Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of wo;
And ever and anon he beat
The double drum with furious heat;
And though sometimes, each dreary pause between,
Her soul-subduing voice applied,
Yet still he kept his wild unaltered mien,
from his head.
But oh! how altered was its sprightly tone,
Her buskins gemmed with morning dew,
The oak-crowned sisters, and their chaste-eyed queen,
Peeping from forth their alleys green;
Last came Joy's ecstatic trial:
He, with viny crown advancing,
First to the lively pipe his hand addressed;
Amidst the festal sounding shades,
To some unwearied minstrel dancing:
Yet, even where'er the least appeared,
And Sport leaped up, and seized his beechen spear. Some remnants of her strength were found;
They saw, by what escaped the storm,
Oh Music! sphere-descended maid,
Ode to Liberty.
Who shall awake the Spartan fife,
At once the breath of fear and virtue shedding,
At wisdom's shrine a while its flame concealing, (What place so fit to seal a deed renowned ?)
Till she her brightest lightnings round revealing,
Oh goddess, in that feeling hour,
Let not my shell's misguided power,
With heaviest sound, a giant statue fell,
When time his northern sons of spoil awoke,
And all the blended work of strength and grace,
And many a barbarous yell, to thousand fragments
Hail port of glory, wealth and pleasure,
Then, too, 'tis said, a hoary pile,
How may the poet now unfold
How learn delighted, and amazed,
Ye forms divine, ye laureate band, That near her inmost altar stand! Now soothe her to her blissful train, Blithe Concord's social form to gain: Concord, whose myrtle wand can steep Even Anger's blood-shot eyes in sleep: Before whose breathing bosom's balm, Rage drops his steel, and storms grow calm; Her let our sires and matrons hoar Welcome to Britain's ravaged shore; Our youths, enamoured of the fair, Play with the tangles of her hair; Till, in one loud applauding sound, The nations shout to her around. O how supremely art thou blest, Thou, lady, thou shalt rule the west!
Dirge in Cymbeline.
Sung by GUIDERIUS and ARVIRAGUS Over FIDELE, supposed to be dead.
To fair Fidele's grassy tomb
Soft maids and village hinds shall bring Each opening sweet, of earliest bloom, And rifle all the breathing spring.
No wailing ghost shall dare appear
To vex with shrieks this quiet grove, But shepherd lads assemble here,
And melting virgins own their love.
No withered witch shall here be seen,
No goblins lead their nightly crew; The female fays shall haunt the green, And dress thy grave with pearly dew;
The redbreast oft at evening hours
To deck the ground where thou art laid.
The tender thought on thee shall dwell.
Each lonely scene shall thee restore,
Ode on the Death of Mr Thomson. The scene of the following stanzas is supposed to lie on the Thames, near Richmond.
In yonder grave a Druid lies,
Where slowly winds the stealing wave! The year's best sweets shall duteous rise, To deck its poet's sylvan grave!
In yon deep bed of whispering reeds
May love through life the soothing shade.
The maids and youths shall linger here,
To hear the woodland pilgrim's knell.
To bid his gentle spirit rest!
And oft as ease and health retire
But thou, who own'st that earthly bed,
That mourn beneath the gliding sail!
Yet lives there one, whose heedless eye
Shall scorn thy pale shrine glimmering near? With him, sweet bard, may fancy die,
And joy desert the blooming year.
But thou, lorn stream, whose sullen tide
No sedge-crowned sisters now attend, Now waft me from the green hill's side,
Whose cold turf hides the buried friend!
And see, the fairy valleys fade,
Dun night has veiled the solemn view! Yet once again, dear parted shade,
Meek nature's child, again adieu!
The genial meads, assigned to bless
Thy life, shall mourn thy early doom! Their hinds and shepherd girls shall dress With simple hands thy rural tomb.
Long, long thy stone and pointed clay
Shall melt the musing Briton's eyes: O vales, and wild woods, shall he say, In yonder grave your Druid lies!
WILLIAM SHENSTONE added some pleasing toral and elegiac strains to our national poetry, but he wanted, as Johnson justly remarks, comprehension and variety.' Though highly ambitious of poetical fame, he devoted a large portion of his time, and squandered most of his means, in landscapegardening and ornamental agriculture. He reared up around him a sort of rural paradise, expending his poetical taste and fancy in the disposition and embellishment of his grounds, till at length pecuniary difficulties and distress drew a cloud over the fair prospect, and darkened the latter days of the poet's life. Swift, who entertained a mortal aversion to all projectors, might have included the unhappy Shenstone among the fanciful inhabitants of his Laputa. The estate which he laboured to adorn was his natal ground. At Leasowes, in the parish of Hales Owen, Shropshire, the poet was born in November 1714. He was taught to read at what is termed a dame school, and his venerable preceptress has been immortalised by his poem of the Schoolmistress. At the proper age he was sent to Pembroke college, Oxford, where he remained four years. In 1745, by the death of his parents and an elder brother, the paternal estate fell to his own care and management, and he began from this time, as Johnson characteristically describes it, to point his prospects, to diversify his surface, to entangle his walks, and to wind his waters; which he did with such judgment and fancy, as made his little domain the envy of the great and the admiration of the skilful; a place to be visited by travellers and copied
means to external embellishment, that he was compelled to live in a dilapidated house, not fit, as he acknowledges, to receive 'polite friends.' An unforpas-tunate attachment to a young lady, and disappointed ambition-for he aimed at political as well as poetical celebrity-conspired, with his passion for gardening and improvement, to fix him in his solitary situation. He became querulous and dejected, pined at the unequal gifts of fortune, and even contemplated with a gloomy joy the complaint of Swift, that he would be forced to die in a rage, like a poisoned rat in a hole.' Yet Shenstone was essentially kind and benevolent, and he must at times have experienced exquisite pleasure in his romantic retreat, in which every year would give fresh beauty, and develop more distinctly the creations of his taste and labour. The works of a person that builds,' he says, 'begin immediately to decay, while those of him who plants begin directly to improve.' This advantage he possessed, with the additional charm of a love of literature; but Shenstone sighed for more than inward peace and satisfaction. He built his happiness on the applause of others, and died in solitude a votary of the world. His death took place at the Leasowes, February 11, 1763.
The works of Shenstone were collected and published after his death by his friend Dodsley, in three volumes. The first contains his poems, the second his prose essays, and the third his letters and other pieces. Gray remarks of his correspondence, that it is about nothing else but the Leasowes, and his writings with two or three neighbouring clergyman who wrote verses too.' The essays are good, displaying an ease and grace of style united to judgment and discrimination. They have not the mellow
ripeness of thought and learning of Cowley's essays, but they resemble them more closely than any others we possess. In poetry, Shenstone tried different styles; his elegies barely reach mediocrity; his levities, or pieces of humour, are dull and spiritless. His highest effort is the Schoolmistress,' a descriptive sketch in imitation of Spenser, so delightfully quaint and ludicrous, yet true to nature, that it has all the force and vividness of a painting by Teniers or Wilkie. His Pastoral Ballad, in four parts, is also the finest English poem of that order. The pastorals of Spenser do not aim at lyrical simplicity, and no modern poet has approached Shenstone in the simple tenderness and pathos of pastoral song. Mr Campbell seems to regret the affected Arcadianism of these pieces, which undoubtedly present an incongruous mixture of pastoral life and modern manners. But, whether from early associations (for almost every person has read Shenstone's ballad in youth), or from the romantic simplicity, the true touches of nature and feeling, and the easy versification of the stanzas, they are always read and remembered with delight. We must surrender up the judgment to the imagination in perusing them, well knowing that no such Corydons or Phylisses are to be found; but this is a sacrifice which the Faery Queen equally demands, and which few readers of poetry are slow to grant. Johnson quotes the following verses of the first part, with the striking eulogium, that, if any mind denies its sympathy to them, it has no acquaintance with love or nature:
We subjoin the best part of the Schoolmistress;' but one other stanza is worthy of notice, not only. for its intrinsic excellence, but for its having probably suggested to Gray the fine reflection in his elegy
'Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,' &c. Mr D'Israeli has pointed out this resemblance in his Curiosities of Literature,' and it appears wellfounded. The palm of merit, as well as originality, seems to rest with Shenstone; for it is more natural
and just to predict the existence of undeveloped powers and great eminence in the humble child at school, than to conceive they had slumbered through life in the peasant in the grave. Yet the conception of Gray has a sweet and touching pathos, that sinks into the heart and memory. Shenstone's is as follows:
Yet, nursed with skill, what dazzling fruits appear!
Cottage of the Schoolmistress, near Hales-Owen, Shropshire.
And all in sight doth rise a birchen tree,
Near to this dome is found a patch so green,
Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow,