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The Poet and the Dun

William Shenstone 1714 (Halesowen) – 1763 (Halesowen)



'These are messengers
That feelingly persuade me what I am.' -Shakspeare.

Comes a dun in the morning and raps at my door-
'I made bold to call-'tis a twelvemonth and more-
I'm sorry, believe me, to trouble you thus, sir-
But Job would be paid, sir, had Job been a mercer.'
My friend, have but patience-'Ay, these are your ways.'
I have got but one shilling to serve me two days-
But, sir-prithee take it, and tell your attorney,
If I han't paid your bill, I have paid for your journey.
Well, now thou art gone, let me govern my passion,
And calmly consider-consider? vexation!
What whore that must paint, and must put on false locks,
And counterfeit joy in the pangs of the pox?
What beggar's wife's nephew, now starved, and now beaten,
Who, wanting to eat, fears himself shall be eaten?
What porter, what turnspit, can deem his case hard?
Or what Dun boast of patience that thinks of a Bard?
Well, I'll leave this poor trade, for no trade can be poorer,
Turn shoe-boy, or courtier, or pimp, or procurer;
Get love, and respect, and good living, and pelf,
And dun some poor dog of a poet myself.
One's credit, however, of course will grow better.
Here enters the footman, and brings me a letter:
'Dear Sir! I received your obliging epistle;
Your fame is secure-bid the critics go whistle.
I read over with wonder the poem you sent me,
And I must speak your praises, no soul shall prevent me.
The audience, believe me, cried out, every line
Was strong, was affecting, was just, was divine;
All pregnant as gold is, with worth, weight, and beauty,
And to hide such a genius was-far from your duty.
I foresee that the court will be hugely delighted:
Sir Richard, for much a less genius, was knighted:
Adieu, my good friend! and for high life prepare ye;
I could say much more, but you're modest, I spare ye.'
Quite fired with the flattery, I call for my paper,
And waste that, and health, and my time, and my taper;
I scribble till morn, when, with wrath no small store,
Comes my old friend the mercer, and raps at my door.
'Ah, Friend! 'tis but idle to make such a pother;
Fate, Fate has ordain'd us to plague one another.'

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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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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