Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ELEGY: 11. HE COMPLAINS HOW SOON THE NOVELTY OF LIVE IS OVER, by WILLIAM SHENSTONE



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ELEGY: 11. HE COMPLAINS HOW SOON THE NOVELTY OF LIVE IS OVER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ah me, my friend! It will not, will not last!
Last Line: Then sinks untimely, and defrauds the chase.
Subject(s): Aging


Ah me, my friend! it will not, will not last!
This fairy-scene, that cheats our youthful eyes!
The charm dissolves; th' aerial music's past;
The banquet ceases, and the vision flies.
Where are the splendid forms, the rich perfumes,
Where the gay tapers, where the spacious dome?
Vanished the costly pearls, the crimson plumes,
And we, delightless, left to wander home!
Vain now are books, the sage's wisdom vain!
What has the world to bribe our steps astray?
Ere reason learns by studied laws to reign,
The weakened passions, self-subdued, obey.
Scarce has the sun sev'n annual courses rolled,
Scarce shown the whole that fortune can supply;
Since, not the miser so caressed his gold,
As I, for what it gave, was heard to sigh.
On the world's stage I wished some sprightly part,
To deck my native fleece with tawdry lace;
'Twas life, 'twas taste, and -- oh my foolish heart!
Substantial joy was fixed in pow'r and place.
And you, ye works of art! allured mine eye,
The breathing picture, and the living stone:
"Though gold, though splendour, heav'n and fate deny,
Yet might I call one Titian stroke my own!'
Smit with the charms of fame, whose lovely spoil,
The wreath, the garland, fire the poet's pride,
I trimmed my lamp, consumed the midnight oil --
But soon the paths of health and fame divide!
Oft too I prayed, 'twas nature formed the pray'r,
To grace my native scenes, my rural home;
To see my trees express their planter's care,
And gay, on Attic models, raise my dome.
But now 'tis o'er, the dear delusion's o'er!
A stagnant breezeless air becalms my soul:
A fond aspiring candidate no more,
I scorn the palm, before I reach the goal.
O youth! enchanting stage, profusely blessed!
Bliss ev'n obtrusive courts the frolic mind;
Of health neglectful, yet by health caressed,
Careless of favour, yet secure to find.
Then glows the breast, as op'ning roses fair,
More free, more vivid than the linnet's wing;
Honest as light, transparent ev'n as air,
Tender as buds, and lavish as the spring.
Not all the force of manhood's active might,
Not all the craft to subtle age assigned,
Not science shall extort that dear delight,
Which gay delusion gave the tender mind.
Adieu soft raptures! transports void of care!
Parent of raptures, dear Deceit, adieu!
And you, her daughters, pining with despair,
Why, why so soon her fleeting steps pursue!
Tedious again to curse the drizzling day!
Again to trace the wint'ry tracts of snow!
Or, soothed by vernal airs, again survey
The self-same hawthorns bud, and cowslips blow!
O life! how soon of ev'ry bliss forlorn!
We start false joys, and urge the devious race:
A tender prey, that cheers our youthful morn,
Then sinks untimely, and defrauds the chase.





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