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William Shenstone (Уильям Шенстон)

Elegy 15. In Memory of a Private Family in Worcestershire

From a lone tower, with reverend ivy crown'd,
The pealing bell awaked a tender sigh;
Still, as the village caught the waving sound,
A swelling tear distream'd from every eye.

So droop'd, I ween, each Briton's breast of old,
When the dull curfew spoke their freedom fled;
For, sighing as the mournful accent roll'd,
"Our hope," they cried, "our kind support, is dead!"

'Twas good Palemon—Near a shaded pool,
A group of ancient elms umbrageous rose;
The flocking rooks, by Instinct's native rule,
This peaceful scene for their asylum chose.

A few small spires, to Gothic fancy fair,
Amid the shades emerging, struck the view;
'Twas here his youth respired its earliest air;
'Twas here his age breathed out its last adieu.

One favour'd son engaged his tenderest care;
One pious youth his whole affection crown'd;
In his young breast the virtues sprung so fair,
Such charms display'd, such sweets diffused around.

But whilst gay transport in his face appears,
A noxious vapour clogs the poison'd sky,
Blasts the fair crop—the sire is drown'd in tears,
And, scarce surviving, sees his Cynthio die!

O'er the pale corse we saw him gently bend:
Heart-chill'd with grief—"My thread," he cried, "is spun!
If Heaven had meant I should my life extend,
Heaven had preserved my life's support, my son.

"Snatch'd in thy prime! alas! the stroke were mild,
Had my frail form obey'd the Fates' decree!
Bless'd were my lot, O Cynthio! O my child!
Had Heaven so pleased, and had I died for thee."

Five sleepless nights he stemm'd this tide of woes
Five irksome suns he saw, through tears, forlorn!
On his pale corse the sixth sad morning rose
From yonder dome the mournful bier was borne.

'Twas on those Downs, by Roman hosts annoy'd,
Fought our bold fathers, rustic, unrefined!
Freedom's plain sons, in martial cares employ'd!
They tinged their bodies, but unmask'd their mind.

'Twas there, in happier times, this virtuous race,
Of milder merit, fix'd their calm retreat:
War's deadly crimson had forsook the place,
And freedom fondly loved the chosen seat.

No wild ambition fired their tranquil breast,
To swell with empty sounds a spotless name;
If fostering skies, the sun, the shower, were blest,
Their bounty spread; their fie1ds' extent the same.

Those fields, profuse of raiment, food, and fire,
They scorn'd to lessen, careless to extend;
Bade Luxury to lavish courts aspire,
And Avarice to city breasts descend.

None to a virgin's mind preferr'd her dower,
To sire with vicious hopes a modest heir:
The sire, in place of titles, wealth, or power,
Assign'd him virtue; and his lot was fair.

They spoke of Fortune, as some doubtful dame,
That sway'd the natives of a distant sphere;
From Lucre's vagrant sons had learn'd her fame,
But never wish'd to place her banners here.

Here youth's free spirit, innocently gay,
Enjoy'd the most that Innocence can give;
Those wholesome sweets that border Virtue's way;
Those cooling fruits that we may taste, and live.

Their board no strange ambiguous viand bore
From their own streams their choicer fare they drew;
To lure the scaly glutton to the shore,
The sole deceit their artless bosom knew!

Sincere themselves, ah! too secure to find
The common bosom, like their own, sincere!
'Tis its own guilt alarms the jealous mind;
'Tis her own poison bids the viper fear.

Sketch'd on the lattice of th' adjacent fane,
Their suppliant busts implore the reader's prayer
Ah, gentle souls! enjoy your blissful reign,
And let frail mortals claim your guardian care.

For sure, to blissful realms the souls are flown,
That never flatter'd, injured, censured, strove;
The friends of science—music, all their own;
Music, the voice of Virtue and of Love!

The journeying peasant, through the secret shade,
Heard their soft lyres engage his listening ear,
And haply deem'd some courteous angel play'd:
No angel play'd—but might with transport hear.

For these the sounds that chase unholy strife!
Solve Envy's charm, Ambition's wretch release!
Raise him to spurn the radiant ills of life,
To pity pomp, to be content with peace.

Farewell, pure Spirits! vain the praise we give,
The praise you sought from lips angelic flows;
Farewell! the virtues which deserve to live
Deserve an ampler bliss than life bestows.

Last of his race, Palemon, now no more,
The modest merit of his line display'd;
Then pious Hough, Vigornia's mitre wore—
Soft sleep the dust of each deserving shade!

William Shenstone's other poems:
  1. Impromptu to Miss Utrecia Smith
  2. The Attribute of Venus
  3. Hint from Voiture
  4. Charms of Precedence
  5. An Irregular Ode, After Sickness

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