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Poem by William Shenstone


Elegy. Ophilia's Urn. To Mr. Graves


Through the dim veil of evening's dusky shade,
Near some lone fane, or yew's funereal green,
What dreary forms has magic Fear survey'd!
What shrouded spectres Superstition seen!

But you, secure, shall pour your sad complaint,
Nor dread the meagre phantom's wan array;
What none but Fear's officious hand can paint,
What none, but Superstition's eye, survey.

The glimmering twilight and the doubtful dawn
Shall see your step to these sad scenes return:
Constant, as crystal dews impearl the lawn,
Shall Strephon's tear bedew Ophelia's urn.

Sure nought unhallow'd shall presume to stray
Where sleep the relics of that virtuous maid;
Nor aught unlovely bend its devious way,
Where soft Ophelia's dear remains are laid.

Haply thy Muse, as with unceasing sighs
She keeps late vigils, on her urn reclined,
May see light groups of pleasing visions rise,
And phantoms glide, but of celestial kind.

Then Fame, her clarion pendent at her side,
Shall seek forgiveness of Ophelia's shade;
"Why has such worth, without distinction, died?
Why, like the desert's lily, bloom'd to fade?"

Then young Simplicity, averse to feign,
Shall, unmolested, breathe her softest sigh,
And Candour with unwonted warmth complain,
And Innocence indulge a wailful cry.

Then Elegance, with coy judicious hand,
Shall cull fresh flowerets for Ophelia's tomb;
And Beauty chide the Fate's severe command,
That show'd the frailty of so fair a bloom!

And Fancy then, with wild ungovern'd woe,
Shall her loved pupil's native taste explain;
For mournful sable all her hues forego,
And ask sweet solace of the Muse in vain!

Ah! gentle Forms! expect no fond relief;
Too much the sacred Nine their loss deplore:
Well may ye grieve, nor find an end of griefЧ
Your best, your brightest favourite is no more.



William Shenstone


William Shenstone's other poems:
  1. Elegy. He Describes His Early Love of Poetry, and Its Consequences
  2. Nancy of the Vale
  3. The Landskip
  4. The Attribute of Venus
  5. Cupid and Plutus


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