Item of the Day: William Shenstone’s Works (1764)

Full Title: The Works in Verse and Prose, of William Shenstone, Esq; Most of which were never before printed. In Two volumes, With Decorations. Vol I. London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall-mall. MDCCLXIV.


Ophelia’s Urn. To Mr. G——.

Thro’ the dim veil of ev’ning’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 glim’ring 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 reliques 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 reclin’d,
May see light groups of pleasing visions rise;
And phantoms glide, but of celestial kind.

Then same, her clarion pendent at her side,
Shall seek forgiveness of Ophelia’s shade;
“Why has such worth, without distinction, dy’d,
Why like the desert’s lilly, 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 flow’rets for Ophelia’s tomb;
And beauty chide the sates’ severe command,
That shew’d the frailty of so fair a bloom!

And fancy then with wild ungovern’d woe,
Shall her lov’d 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 grief —
Your best, your brightest fav’rite is no more.


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Filed under 1630's, 1760's, Poetry, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

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