Biography of William Shenstone
Born in 1714 in Halesowen (now Worcestershire) England living at the family home 'The Leasowes'. Halesowen, which, up to the early years of the 18th century was in part of Shropshire. He was educated at Solihull Grammar School, where he met and became firm friends with the future poet Richard Jago, before going on to study at Pembroke College, Oxford, but without taking a degree. On inheriting 'The Leasowes' he spent much time and money on landscaping the estate.
He was a poet of diverse taste, his father recognising his talent when a young boy, had strived to send his son to Oxford to study theology but William showed no real interest, preferring poetry, odes, elegies, ballads and correspondence of which he was particularly proud.
Shenstone's work is somewhat self-conscious and pretty and is scarcely remembered today, with the possible exception of the pastoral poem The Schoolmistress (1742), written in the style of Edmund Spenser. This was praised by Dr. Johnson and Thomas Gray, the latter's Elegy written in a country churchyard (1751) being in a similar style.
William Shenstone died in 1763.
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Ode to a Young Lady
[Somewhat Too Solicitious about Her Manner of Expression]
Survey, my fair! that lucid stream,
Adown the smiling valley stray;
Would Art attempt, or Fancy dream,
To regulate its winding way?
So pleas'd I view thy shining hair
In loose dishevell'd ringlets flow: