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
When first, Philander, first I came Where Avon rolls his winding stream, The nymphs, how brisk, the swains, how gay,
An Irregular Ode, After Sickness
-Melius, bunny venerit ipsa, canemus. -Virg. Imitation.
'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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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,
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
A Pastoral Ballad I: Absence
Arbusta humilesque myricæ. Virg. Ye shepherds so chearful and gay,
Elegy V. He Compares the Turbulence of L...
From Love, from angry Love's inclement reign I pass awhile to Friendship's equal skies; Thou, generous Maid! reliev'st my partial pain, And cheer'st the victim of another's eyes.
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,
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 Ballad
Ye shepherds so cheerful and gay,
Whose flocks never carelessly roam;
Should Corydon's happen to stray,
Oh! call the poor wanderers home.
Allow me to muse and to sigh,
Nor talk of the change that ye find;
None once was so watchful as I;
I have left my dear Phillis behind.
Now I know what it is, to have strove