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Poem by William Shenstone


Elegy. He Describes His Disinterestedness to a Friend


I ne'er must tinge my lip with Celtic wines;
The pomp of India must I ne'er display;
Nor boast the produce of Peruvian mines;
Nor with Italian sounds deceive the day.

Down yonder brook my crystal beverage flows;
My grateful sheep their annual fleeces bring;
Fair in my garden buds the damask rose,
And from my grove I hear the throstle sing.

My fellow swains! avert your dazzled eyes;
In vain allured by glittering spoils they rove;
The Fates ne'er meant them for the shepherd's prize,
Yet gave them ample recompence in love.

They gave you vigour from your parents' veins;
They gave you toils, but toils your sinews brace;
They gave you nymphs, that own their amorous pains;
And shades, the refuge of the gentle race.

To carve your loves, to paint your mutual flames,
See, polish'd fair, the beech's friendly rind!
To sing soft carols to your lovely dames,
See vocal grots and echoing vales assign'd!

Wouldst thou, my Strephon, Love's delighted slave!
Though sure the wreaths of chivalry to share,
Forego the riband thy Matilda gave,
And, giving, bade thee in remembrance wear?

Ill fare my peace, but every idle toy,
If to my mind my Delia's form it brings,
Has truer worth, imparts sincerer joy,
Than all that bears the radiant stamp of kings.

O my soul weeps, my breast with anguish bleeds,
When Love deplores the tyrant power of Gain!
Disdaining riches as the futile weeds,
I rise superior, and the rich disdain.

Oft from the stream, slow-wandering down the glade,
Pensive I hear the nuptial peal rebound:
"Some miser weds," I cry, "the captive maid,
And some fond lover sickens at the sound."

Not Somerville, the Muse's friend of old,
Though now exalted to yon ambient sky,
So shunn'd a soul distain'd with earth and gold,
So loved the pure, the generous breast, as I.

Scorn'd be the wretch that quits his genial bowl,
His loves, his friendships, even his self resigns;
Perverts the sacred instinct of his soul,
And to a ducat's dirty sphere confines.

But come, my Friend! with taste, with science blest,
Ere age impair me, and ere gold allure:
Restore thy dear idea to my breast,
The rich deposit shall the shrine secure.

Let others toil to gain the sordid ore,
The charms of independence let us sing:
Bless'd with thy friendship, can I wish for more?
I'll spurn the boasted wealth of Lydia's king.



William Shenstone


William Shenstone's other poems:
  1. Colemira: A Culinary Eclogue
  2. Elegy. He Describes His Early Love of Poetry, and Its Consequences
  3. Epilogue - To the Tragedy of Cleone
  4. Charms of Precedence
  5. Economy, A Rhapsody, Addressed to Young Poets


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