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Elegy XVII. He Indulges the Suggestions of Spleen.-- An Elegy to the Winds

William Shenstone 1714 (Halesowen) – 1763 (Halesowen)

AEole! namque tibi divûm Pater atque hominum rex,
Et mulcere dedit mentes et tollere vento.

Imitation.

O AEolus! to thee the Sire supreme
Of gods and men the mighty power bequeath'd
To rouse or to assuage the human mind.

Stern Monarch of the winds! admit my prayer;
Awhile thy fury check, thy storms confine;
No trivial blast impels the passive air,
But brews a tempest in a breast like mine.

What bands of black ideas spread their wings!
The peaceful regions of Content invade!
With deadly poison taint the crystal springs!
With noisome vapour blast the verdant shade!

I know their leader, Spleen, and the dread sway
Of rigid Eurus, his detested sire;
Through one my blossoms and my fruits decay;
Through one my pleasures and my hopes expire.

Like some pale stripling, when his icy way
Relenting, yields beneath the noontide beam,
I stand aghast; and, chill'd with fear, survey
How far I've tempted life's deceitful stream.

Where, by remorse impell'd, repulsed by fears,
Shall wretched Fancy a retreat explore?
She flies the sad presage of coming years,
And sorrowing dwells on pleasures now no more.

Again with patrons and with friends she roves;
But friends and patrons never to return;
She sees the Nymphs, the Graces, and the Loves,
But sees them weeping o'er Lucinda's urn.

She visits, Isis! thy forsaken stream,
Oh! ill forsaken for BÅ“otian air;
She deems no flood reflects so bright a beam,
No reed so verdant, and no flower so fair.

She dreams beneath thy sacred shades were peace,
Thy bays might even the civil storm repel;
Reviews thy social bliss, thy learned ease,
And with no cheerful accent cries, Farewell!

Farewell, with whom to these retreats I stray'd,
By youthful sports, by youthful toils, allied;
Joyous we sojourn'd in thy circling shade,
And wept to find the paths of life divide.

She paints the progress of my rival's vows.
Sees every muse a partial ear incline,
Binds with luxuriant bays his favour'd brow,
Nor yields the refuse of his wrath to mine.

She bids the flattering mirror, form'd to please,
Now blast my hope, now vindicate despair;
Bids my fond verse the lovesick parley cease,
Accuse my rigid fate, acquit my fair.

Where circling rocks defend some pathless vale,
Superfluous mortal! let me ever rove;
Alas! there Echo will repeat the tale-
Where shall I find the silent scenes I love?

Fain would I mourn my luckless fate alone,
Forbid to please, yet fated to admire;
Away, my friends! my sorrows are my own!
Why should I breathe around my sick desire?

Bear me, ye winds, indulgent to my pains,
Near some sad ruin's ghastly shade to dwell!
There let me fondly eye the rude remains,
And from the mouldering refuse build my cell!

Genius of Rome! thy prostrate pomp display!
Trace every dismal proof of Fortune's power;
Let me the wreck of theatres survey,
Or pensive sit beneath some nodding tower.

Or where some duct, by rolling seasons worn,
Convey'd pure streams to Rome's imperial wall,
Near the wide breach in silence let me mourn,
Or tune my dirges to the water's fall.

Genius of Carthage! paint thy ruin'd pride;
Towers, arches, fanes, in wild confusion strewn;
Let banish'd Marius, lowering by thy side,
Compare thy fickle fortunes with his own.

Ah no! thou monarch of the storms! forbear;
My trembling nerves abhor thy rude control,
And scarce a pleasing twilight soothes my care,
Ere one vast death, like darkness, shocks my soul

Forbear thy rage-on no perennial base
Is built frail Fear, or Hope's deceitful pile;
My pains are fled-my joy resumes its places
Should the sky brighten, or Melissa smile.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:10 min read
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William Shenstone

William Shenstone was an English poet and one of the earliest practitioners of landscape gardening through the development of his estate, The Leasowes. more…

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