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Poem by William Shenstone

Ode to Memory

O Memory! Celestial maid!
Who glean'st the flowerets cropt by time;
And, suffering not a leaf to fade,
Preserv'st the blossoms of our prime;
Bring, bring those moments to my mind
When life was new and Lesbia kind.

And bring that garland to my sight,
With which my favour'd crook she bound;
And bring that wreath of roses bright,
Which then my festive temples crown'd;
And to my raptured ear convey
The gentle things she deign'd to say

And sketch with care the Muse's bower,
Where Isis rolls her silver tide
Nor yet omit one reed or flower
That shines on Cherwell's verdant side;
If so thou mayst those hours prolong,
When polish'd Lycon join'd my song.

The song it 'vails not to recite-
But, sure, to soothe our youthful dreams,
Those banks and streams appear'd more bright
Than other banks, than other streams;
Or, by the softening pencil shown,
Assume they beauties not their own?

And paint that sweetly-vacant scene,
When, all beneath the poplar bough,
My spirits light, my soul serene,
I breathed in verse one cordial vow:
That nothing should my soul inspire
But friendship warm and love entire.

Dull to the sense of new delight,
On thee the drooping muse attends;
As some fond lover, robb'd of sight,
On thy expressive power depends,
Nor would exchange thy glowing lines,
To live the lord of all that shines.

But let me chase those vows away,
Which at Ambition's shrine I made;
Nor ever let thy skill display
Those anxious moments, ill repaid:
Oh! from my breast that season rase,
And bring my childhood in its place.

Bring me the bells, the rattle bring,
And bring the hobby I bestrode,
When pleased, in many a sportive ring,
Around the room I jovial rode;
Even let me bid my lyre adieu,
And bring the whistle that I blew.

Then will I muse, and, pensive, say,
Why did not these enjoyments last?
How sweetly wasted I the day,
While innocence allow'd to waste!
Ambition's toils alike are vain,
But ah! for pleasure yield us pain. 

William Shenstone

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

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Alfred Tennyson Ode to Memory ("And like a bride of old")

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