Love and Honor

Sed neque Medorum silvae, ditissima terra
Nec pulcher Ganges, atque auro turbidus Haemus,
Laudibus Angligenum certent; non Bactra, nec Indi,
Totaque thuriferis Panchaia pinguis arenis.


Yet let not Median woods, (abundant track!)
Nor Ganges fair, nor Haemus, miser-like,
Proud of his hoarded gold, presume to vie
With Britain's boast and praise; nor Persian Bactra,
Nor India's coasts, nor all Panchaia's sands,
Rich, and exulting in their lofty towers.


Let the green olive glad Hesperian shores;
Her tawny citron, and her orange groves,
These let Iberia boast; but if in vain,
To win the stranger plant's diffusive smile,
The Briton labours, yet our native minds,
Our constant bosoms, these the dazzled world
May view with envy; these Iberian dames
Survey with fix'd esteem and fond desire.
Hapless Elvira! thy disastrous fate
May well this truth explain, nor ill adorn
The British lyre; then chiefly, if the Muse,
Nor vain, nor partial, from the simple guise
Of ancient record catch the pensive lay,
And in less grovelling accents give to Fame.
Elvira! loveliest maid! the Iberian realm
Could boast no purer breast, no sprightlier mind,
No race more splendent, and no form so fair.
Such was the chance of war, this peerless maid,
In life's luxuriant bloom, enrich'd the spoil
Of British victors, victory's noblest pride!
She, she alone, amid the wailful train
Of captive maids, assign'd to Henry's care,
Lord of her life, her fortune, and her fame!
He, generous youth! with no penurious hand,
The tedious moments, that unjoyous roll
Where Freedom's cheerful radiance shines no more,
Essay'd to soften; conscious of the pang
That Beauty feels, to waste its fleeting hours
In some dim fort, by foreign rule restrain'd,
Far from the haunts of men, or eye of day!
Sometimes, to cheat her bosom of its cares,
Her kind protector number'd o'er the toils
Himself had worn; the frowns of angry seas,
Or hostile rage, or faithless friend, more fell
Than storm or foe; if haply she might find
Her cares diminish'd; fruitless, fond essay!
Now to her lovely hand, with modest awe
The tender lute he gave; she, not averse,
Nor destitute of skill, with willing hand
Call'd forth angelic strains; the sacred debt
Of gratitude, she said, whose just commands
Still might her hand with equal pride obey!
Nor to the melting sounds the nymph refused
Her vocal art; harmonious as the strain
Of some imprison'd lark, who, daily cheer'd
By guardian cares, repays them with a song;
Nor droops, nor deems sweet liberty resign'd.
The song, not artless had she framed to paint
Disastrous passion; how, by tyrant laws
Of idiot custom sway'd, some soft-eyed fair
Loved only one, nor dared that love reveal!
How the soft anguish banish'd from her cheek
The damask rose full-blown; a fever came,
And from her bosom forced the plaintive tale;
Then, swift as light, he sought the love-lorn maid,
But vainly sought her; torn by swifter fate
To join the tenants of the myrtle shade,
Love's mournful victims on the plains below.
Sometimes, as Fancy spoke the pleasing task,
She taught her artful needle to display
The various pride of spring; then swift upsprung
Thickets of myrtle, eglantine, and rose:
There might you see, on gentle toils intent,
A train of busy Loves; some pluck the flower,
Some twine the garland, some with grave grimace
Around a vacant warrior cast the wreath.
'Twas paint, 'twas life! and sure to piercing eyes
The warrior's face depictured Henry's mien.
Now had the generous chief with joy perused
The royal scroll, which to their native home,
Their ancient rights, uninjured, unredeem'd,
Restored the captives. Forth with rapid haste
To glad his fair Elvira's ear, he sprung,
Fired by the bliss he panted to convey;
But fired in vain! Ah! what was his amaze,
His fond distress, when o'er her pallid face
Dejection reign'd, and from her lifeless hand
Down dropt the myrtle's fair unfinish'd flower!
Speechless she stood; at length, with accents faint,
'Well may my native shore,' she said, 'resound
Thy monarch's praise; and here Elvira prove
Of thine forgetful; flowers shall cease to feel
The fostering breeze, and Nature change her laws!'
And now the grateful edict wide alarm'd
The British host. Around the smiling youths,
Call'd to their native scenes, with willing haste
Their fleet unmoor; impatient of the love
That weds each bosom to its native soil.
The patriot passion! strong in every clime,
How justly theirs who find no foreign sweets
To dissipate
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:55 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,364
Words 751
Stanzas 3
Stanza Lengths 4, 6, 91

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…

All William Shenstone poems | William Shenstone Books

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