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
Ye birds! for whom I rear'd the grove, With melting lay salute my love; My Daphne with your notes detain, Or I have rear'd my grove in vain.
An Irregular Ode, After Sickness
-Melius, bunny venerit ipsa, canemus. -Virg. Imitation.
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 I: Absence
Arbusta humilesque myricæ. Virg. Ye shepherds so chearful and gay,
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.
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,
Colemira : A Culinary Eclogue
Insensible of soft desire, Behold Colemira prove More partial to the kitchen fire Than to the fire of Love.
'Tis by comparison we know On every object to bestow Its proper share of praise Did each alike perfection bear,
When first, Philander, first I came Where Avon rolls his winding stream, The nymphs, how brisk, the swains, how gay,
Elegy Ii. On Posthumous Reputation - To ...
O grief of griefs! that Envy's frantic ire Should rob the living virtue of its praise; O foolish Muses! that with zeal aspire
Cupid And Plutus
When Celia, love's eternal foe, To rich old Gomez first was married; And angry Cupid came to know His shafts had err'd, his bow miscarried;
'Twas in a cool Aonian glade, The wanton Cupid, spent with toil, Had sought refreshment from the shade, And stretch'd him on the mossy soil.
Colemira. A Culinary Eclogue
Nec tantum Veneris, quantum studiosa culinae. Imitation. Insensible of soft desire,
What village but has sometimes seen The clumsy shape, the frightful mien, Tremendous claws, and shagged hair Of that grim brute yclept a bear?
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!