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To a Lady of Quality, Fitting Up Her Library

William Shenstone 1714 (Halesowen) – 1763 (Halesowen)

Ah! what is science, what is art,
Or what the pleasure these impart?
Ye trophies, which the learn'd pursue
Through endless, fruitless toils, adieu!

What can the tedious tomes bestow,
To soothe the miseries they show?
What like the bliss for him decreed,
Who tends his flock and tunes his reed?

Say, wretched Fancy! thus refined
From all that glads the simplest hind,
How rare that object which supplies
A charm for too discerning eyes!

The polish'd bard, of genius vain,
Endures a deeper sense of pain;
As each invading blast devours
The richest fruits, the fairest flowers.

Sages, with irksome waste of time,
The steep ascent of knowledge climb;
Then, from the towering heights they scale,
Behold contentment range-the vale.

Yet why, Asteria, tell us why
We scorn the crowd when you are nigh?
Why then does reason seem so fair,
Why learning, then, deserve our care?

Who can unpleased your shelves behold,
While you so fair a proof unfold,
What force the brightest genius draws
From polish'd wisdom's written laws?

Where are our humbler tenets flown?
What strange perfection bids us own
That Bliss with toilsome Science dwells,
And happiest he who most excels?

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:00 min read

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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