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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William Shenstone Poems
An Irregular Ode, After Sickness
-Melius, bunny venerit ipsa, canemus. -Virg. Imitation.
What village but has sometimes seen The clumsy shape, the frightful mien, Tremendous claws, and shagged hair Of that grim brute yclept a bear?
A Pastoral Ode. To the Hon. Sir Richard ...
The morn dispensed a dubious light, A sudden mist had stolen from sight Each pleasing vale and hill; When Damon left his humble bowers,
When first, Philander, first I came Where Avon rolls his winding stream, The nymphs, how brisk, the swains, how gay,
The School-mistress. In Imitation of Spe...
Auditæ voces, vagitus et ingens,Infantunque animæ flentes in limine primo. Virg.ADVERTISEMENT What particulars in Spenser were imagined most proper for the author's imitationon this occasion, are his language, his simplicity, his manner of description,and a peculiar tenderness of sentiment remarkable throughout his works. Ah me! full sorely is my heart forlorn, To think how modest worth neglected lies;
A Pastoral Ballad
Ye shepherds so cheerful and gay, Whose flocks never carelessly roam; Should Corydon's happen to stray, Oh! call the poor wanderers home.
The Speeches of Sloth and Virtue
[Upon the Plan of Xenophen's Judgment of Hercules] SLOTH
A Pastoral Ballad IV: Disappointment
Ye shepherds give ear to my lay, And take no more heed of my sheep: They have nothing to do but to stray; I have nothing to do but to weep.
A Pastoral Ballad II: Hope
My banks they are furnish'd with bees, Whose murmur invites one to sleep; My grottos are shaded with trees, And my hills are white-over with sheep.
Ode to a Young Lady
[Somewhat Too Solicitious about Her Manner of Expression] Survey, my fair! that lucid stream, Adown the smiling valley stray;
How pleas'd within my native bowers Erewhile I pass'd the day! Was ever scene so deck'd with flowers? Were ever flowers so gay?
Written at an Inn at Henley
To thee, fair Freedom! I retire, From flattery, cards, and dice, and din; Nor art thou found in mansions higher Than the low cot, or humble inn.
A Pastoral Ballad III: Solicitude
Why will you my passion reprove? Why term it a folly to grieve? Ere I shew you the charms of my love, She is fairer than you can believe.
The Beau to the Virtuosos
Hail curious wights, to whom so fair The form of mortal flies is! Who deem those grubs beyond compare, Which common sense despises.
When first, Philander, first I came
Where Avon rolls his winding stream,
The nymphs, how brisk, the swains, how gay,
To see Asteria, queen of May!
The parsons round her praises sung!
The steeples with her praises rung!-
I thought no sight that e'er was seen
Could match the sight of Barel's Green!