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Elegy III. On the Untimely Death of a Certain Learned Acquainance
William Shenstone 1714 (Halesowen) – 1763 (Halesowen)
If proud Pygmalion quit his cumbrous frame,
Funereal pomp the scanty tear supplies;
Whilst heralds loud, with venal voice, proclaim,
Lo! here the brave and the puissant lies.
When humbler Alcon leaves his drooping friends,
Pageant nor plume distinguish Alcon's bier;
The faithful Muse with votive song attends,
And blots the mournful numbers with a tear.
He little knew the sly penurious art;
That odious art which Fortune's favourites know:
Form'd to bestow, he felt the warmest heart,
But envious Fate forbade him to bestow.
He little knew to ward the secret wound;
He little knew that mortals could ensnare:
Virtue he knew; the noblest joy he found
To sing her glories, and to paint her fair.
Ill was he skill'd to guide his wandering sheep;
And unforeseen disaster thinn'd his fold;
Yet at another's loss the swain would weep;
And, for his friend, his very crook was sold.
Ye sons of Wealth! protect the Muses' train;
From winds protect them, and with food supply:
Ah! helpless they, to ward the threaten'd pain,
The meagre famine, and the wintry sky!
He loved a nymph; amidst his slender store
He dared to love, and Cynthia was his theme:
He breathed his plaints along the rocky shore;
They only echo'd o'er the winding stream!
His nymph was fair! the sweetest bud that blows
Revives less lovely from the recent shower;
So Philomel enamour'd eyes the rose
Sweet bird! enamour'd of the sweetest flower.
He loved the Muse; she taught him to complain;
He saw his timorous loves on her depend:
He loved the Muse, although she taught in vain;
He loved the Muse, for she was Virtue's friend.
She guides the foot that treads on Parian floors;
She wins the ear when formal pleas are vain;
She tempts Patricians from the fatal doors
Of Vice's brothel, forth to Virtue's fane.
He wish'd for wealth, for much he wish'd to give;
He grieved that virtue might not wealth obtain:
Piteous of woes, and hopeless to relieve,
The pensive prospect sadden'd all his strain.
I saw him faint! I saw him sink to rest!
Like one ordain'd to swell the vulgar throng;
As though the Virtues had not warm'd his breast,
As though the Muses not inspired his tongue.
I saw his bier ignobly cross the plain;
Saw peasant hands the pious rite supply:
The generous rustics mourn'd the friendly swain,
But Power and Wealth's unvarying cheek was dry!
Such Alcon fell; in meagre want forlorn!
Where were ye then, ye powerful Patrons, where?
Would ye the purple should your limbs adorn?
Go wash the conscious blemish with a tear.
Submitted on May 13, 2011
- 2:17 min read
- 96 Views
|Scheme||ABAB CXCD EFEF GDGD HIHI JKJK LMLM NONO JPJP QJQJ XJXJ RXRX JKJK SDSD|
|Closest metre||Iambic pentameter|
|Stanza Lengths||4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4|
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"Elegy III. On the Untimely Death of a Certain Learned Acquainance" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 30 Mar. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41541/elegy-iii.-on-the-untimely-death-of-a-certain-learned-acquainance>.
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