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Let my obedience then excuse

My disobedience now,
Nor some reproof yourself refuse

From your aggrieved Bow-wow;

If killing birds be such a crime,

(Which I can hardly see,)
What think you, sir, of killing Time

With verse address'd to me ?




[OCTOBER, 1793.]
I should have deem'd it once an effort vain
To sweeten more sweet Maro's matchless strain,
But from that error now behold me free,
Since I received him as a gift from thee.


[How well this tribute of admiration and attachment was merited-a tribute expressive at once of all that is purest, yet most ardent, in affection-appears from the following passage in one of Lady Hesketh's letters to her sister :-“ Mrs Unwin is very far from grave : on the contrary, she is cheerful and gay, and laughs, de bon cæur, upon the smallest provocation. Amidst all the little puritanical words which fall from her de tems en tems, she seems to have by nature a great fund of gaiety - great, indeed, must it have been, not to have been totally overcome by the close confinement in which she has lived, and the anxiety she must have undergone for one whom she certainly loves as well as one human being can love another. I will not say she idolizes him, because that she would think wrong, but she certainly seems to possess the truest regard and affection for this excellent creature ; and, as I before said, has, in the most literal sense of the word, no will or shadow of inclination but what is his. How she has supported herself as she has done -- the constant attendance, day and night, which she has gone through for the last thirteen years—is to me, I confess, incredible! and, in justice to her, I must say, she does it all with an ease that relieves you from any idea of its being a state of sufferance. She speaks of him in the highest terms; and by her astonishing management, he is never mentioned in Olney but with the highest respect and veneration.” The poem was written .n the autumn of 1793.]

The twentieth year is well nigh past,
Since first our sky was overcast,
Ah, would that this might be the last,

My Mary!

Thy spirits have a fainter flow,
I see thee daily weaker grow-
'Twas my distress that brought thee. low,

My Mary!

Thy needles, once a shining store,
For my sake restless heretofore,
Now rust disused, and shine no more,

My Mary!

For though thou gladly would'st fulfil
The same kind office for me still,
Thy sight now seconds not thy will,

My Mary!

But well thou play'dst the housewife's part,
And all thy threads with magic art
Have wound themselves about this heart,

My Mary!

Thy indistinct expressions seem
Like language utter'd in a dream ;
Yet me they charm, whate’er the theme,

My Mary!

Thy silver locks, once auburn bright,
Are still more lovely in my sight
Than golden beams of orient light,

My Mary!

For could I view nor them nor thee,
What sight worth seeing could I see?
The sun would rise in vain for me,

My Mary!

Partakers of thy sad decline,
Thy hands their little force resign;
Yet gently prest, press gently mine,

My Mary!

Such feebleness of limbs thou provest,
That now at every step thou movest
Upheld by two, yet still thou lovest,

My Mary!

And still to love, though prest with ill,
In wintry age to feel no chill,
With me is to be lovely still,

My Mary!

But, ah! by constant heed I know,
How oft the sadness that I show,
Transforms thy smiles to looks of wo,

My Mary!

And should my future lot be cast
With much resemblance of the past,
Thy worn-out heart will break at last,

My Mary!


De sacris autem hæc sit una sententia, ut conserventur.

Cic. de Leg. But let us all concur in this one sentiment, that things sacred be inviolate.

He lives, who lives to God alone,

And all are dead beside ;
For other source than God is none

Whence life can be supplied.

To live to God is to requite

His love as best we may ;
To make his precepts our delight,

His promises our stay. .

But life, within a narrow ring

Of giddy joys comprised,
Is falsely named, and no such thing,

But rather death disguised.

Can life in them deserve the name,

Who only live to prove
For what poor toys they can disclaim

An endless life above ?

Who, much diseased, yet nothing feel,

Much menaced, nothing dread;
Have wounds, which only God can heal,

Yet never ask his aid ?
Who deem his house a useless place,

Faith, want of common sense ;
And ardour in the Christian race,

A hypocrite's pretence ?

Who trample order ; and the day,

Which God asserts his own, Dishonour with unballow'd play,

And worship chance alone ?

If scorn of God's commands, impress'd

On word and deed, imply
The better part of man unbless'd

With life that cannot die:

Such want it, and that want, uncured

Till man resigns his breath, Speaks him a criminal, assured

Of everlasting death. ;

Sad period to a pleasant course !

Yet so will God repay
Sabbaths profaned without remorse,

And mercy cast away.




[This poem, suggested by a circumstance which had some time before been read to the poet, from the Norwich newspaper, without his seeming to notice it, was first written in Latin, on the 11th, and afterwards translated into English on the 19th March, 1799.7

What portents, from what distant region, ride,
Unseen till now in ours, the astonish'd tide ?
In ages past, old Proteus, with his droves
Of sea-calves, sought the mountains and the groves;
But now, descending whence of late they stood,
Themselves the mountains seem to rove the flood.
Dire times were they, full charged with human woes;
And these, scarce less calamitous than those.
What view we now ? More wondrous still ! Behold !
Like burnish'd brass they shine, or beaten gold;
And all around the pearl's pure splendour show,
And all around the ruby's fiery glow.
Come they from India, where the burning earth,
All bounteous, gives her richest treasures birth ;.
And where the costly gems, that beam around
The brows of mightiest potentates, are found ?
No. Never such a countless dazzling store
Had left, unseen, the Ganges' peopled shore.
Rapacious hands, and ever-watchful eyes,
Should sooner far have mark’d and seized the prize.
Whence sprang they then ? Ejected have they come
From Ves'vius', or from Ætna's burning womb ?
Thus shine they self-illumed, or but display
The borrow'd splendours of a cloudless day?
With borrow'd beams they shine. The gales, that breathe
Now landward, and the current's force beneath,
Have borne them nearer : and the nearer sight,
Advantaged more, contemplates them aright.
Their lofty summits crested high, they show,
With mingled sleet and long incumbent snow,

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