Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Poetry - William Tunstall

I haven't been able to find out much about William Tunstall. He was an 18th century poet or maybe he was just a collector of poetry as the references I've found mention that the poems are "attributed" to him so maybe his name is just a convenient one to attach to them. I really just wanted an excuse to use this lovely picture of a young lady at her spinet (from here) even though it's the wrong period. The poem is called Eliza Playing upon the Spinet & shows the importance of a young lady having accomplishments to show off in society. Eliza seems quite able to hold her own with her beauty & strength of personality no matter how bad her playing!

Though fair Eliza, to conceal
The charming beauties of her eyes,
Turns to her spinet, yet we feel
The fair Eliza can surprise.

She can her laws on us impose,
And triumph, when she does retreat,
As Parthians seem to fly their foes,
The surer conquest to complete.

If in her blooming looks she appears,
She through the eyes attacks the heart;
But when she plays she wounds the ears,
And every finger turns a dart.

The listening captives round her stand,
And, whilst each tuneful touch th' admire,
They own the conquest of her hand,
And yield themselves to chains of wire.

But, if some hardy rebel's choice
Bids a defiance to the strings,
Let but Eliza raise her voice;
She gives no quarter when she sings.


  1. I found this:
    Biographical details
    William Tunstall (author/poet; British; Male; 1715 fl)
    Poet. Adherent of the Old Pretender; sentenced to death but pardoned
    and there's a picture of him here (ridiculously long URL follows!:!!%2FOR%2F!!%2F112724%2F!%2F112724-3-18%2F!%2FPrevious+owner%2Fex-collection+Horace+Walpole%2C+4th+Earl+of+Orford%2F!%2F%2F!!%2F%2F!!!%2F&orig=%2Fresearch%2Fsearch_the_collection_database%2Fadvanced_search.aspx&currentPage=6&numpages=10

    1. That is a ridiculously long URL! I'm amazed that it worked, but it did. Thanks Harriet. I'm glad I know what WT looks like now but the lady at the spinet is prettier!

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed this poem. I don't read a lot of poetry but this was a fun one. I wonder now why Tunstall was sentenced to death. Might have to look that up too. Thanks for sharing, Pam

    1. Let me know if you find out. Sounds like he was a Jacobite but I'd like to know why he was pardoned.