William Shenstone

Here you will find the Long Poem Elegy XIV. Declining an Invitation To Visit Foreign Countries of poet William Shenstone

Elegy XIV. Declining an Invitation To Visit Foreign Countries


While others, lost to friendship, lost to love,
Waste their best minutes on a foreign strand,
Be mine, with British nymph or swain to rove,
And court the Genius of my native land.

Deluded Youth! that quits these verdant plains,
To catch the follies of an alien soil!
To win the vice his genuine soul disdains,
Return exultant, and import the spoil!

In vain he boasts of his detested prize;
No more it blooms, to British climes convey'd;
Cramp'd by the impulse of ungenial skies,
See its fresh vigour in a moment fade;

Th' exotic folly knows its native clime;
An awkward stranger, if we waft it o'er;
Why then these toils, this costly waste of time,
To spread soft poison on our happy shore?

I covet not the pride of foreign looms;
In search of foreign modes I scorn to rove;
Nor, for the worthless bird of brighter plumes,
Would change the meanest warbler of my grove.

No distant clime shall servile airs impart,
Or form these limbs with pliant ease to play;
Trembling I view the Gaul's illusive art,
That steals my loved rusticity away.

'Tis long since Freedom fled th' Hesperian clime,
Her citron groves, her flower-embroider'd shore;
She saw the British oak aspire sublime,
And soft Campania's olive charms no more.

Let partial suns mature the western mine,
To shed its lustre o'er th' Iberian maid;
Mien, beauty, shape, O native soil! are thine;
Thy peerless daughters ask no foreign aid.

Let Ceylon's envied plant perfume the seas,
Till torn to season the Batavian bowl;
Ours is the breast whose genuine ardours please,
Nor need a drug to meliorate the soul.

Let the proud Soldan wound th' Arcadian groves,
Or with rude lips th' Aonian fount profane;
The Muse no more by flowery Ladon roves,
She seeks her Thomson on the British plain.

Tell not of realms by ruthless war dismay'd;
Ah, hapless realms! that war's oppression feel;
In vain may Austria boast her Noric blade,
If Austria bleed beneath her boasted steel.

Beneath her palm Idume vents her moan;
Raptured, she once beheld its friendly shade;
And hoary Memphis boasts her tombs alone,
The mournful types of mighty power decay'd!

No Crescent here displays its baneful horns;
No turban'd host the voice of Truth reproves;
Learning's free source the sage's breast adorns,
And poets, not inglorious, chant their loves.

Boast, favour'd Media! boast thy flowery stores;
Thy thousand hues by chemic suns refined;
'Tis not the dress or mien my soul adores,
'Tis the rich beauties of Britannia's mind.

While Grenville's breast could virtue's stores afford,
What envied flota bore so fair a freight?
The mine compared in vain its latent hoard,
The gem its lustre, and the gold its weight.

Thee, Grenville! thee, with calmest courage fraught!
Thee, the loved image of thy native shore!
Thee, by the Virtues arm'd, the Graces taught!
When shall we cease to boast or to deplore?

Presumptuous War, which could thy life destroy,
What shall it now in recompence decree?
While friends that merit every earthly joy,
Feel every anguish; feel-the loss of thee!

Bid me no more a servile realm compare,
No more the Muse of partial praise arraign;
Britannia sees no foreign breast so fair,
And, if she glory, glories not in vain.