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The rest is ice. Far hence, where, most severe,
The darts of Phæbus, and a softer air ;
[This, the last original poem composed by Cowper, was written under the most appalling mental depression ; yet, being finished in one day, 20th March, 1799, and founded on an incident in Anson's Voyage, a book which he had not looked into for twenty years before, it evinces in a striking manner the powers of his mind.]
OBSCUREST night involved the sky,
The Atlantic billows roar'd,
Wash'd headlong from on board ;
No braver chief could Albion boast
Than he with whom he went,
With warmer wishes sent.
Not long beneath the whelming brine,
Expert to swim, he lay ;
Or courage die away ;
To check the vessel's course,
That, pitiless, per force
Some succour yet they could afford;
And such as storms allow,
Delay'd not to bestow.
Nor, cruel as it seem'd, could he
Their haste himself condemn,
Alone could rescue them ;
He long survives who lives an hour
In ocean, self-upheld :
His destiny repelld;
At length, his transient respite past,
His comrades, who before
Could catch the sound no more.
No poet wept him: but the page
Of narrative sincere,
Is wet with Anson's tear;
I therefore purpose not, or dream,
Descanting on his fate,
A more enduring date.
No voice divine the storm allay'd,
No light propitious shone ; When, snatch'd from all effectual aid, .
We perish’d, each alone : But I beneath a rougher sea, And whelm'd in deeper gulfs than he.
The following three Poems have been omitted in their proper order.
Weak and irresolute is man;
The purpose of to-day,
To-morrow rends away.
The bow well bent, and smart the spring,
Vice seems already slain ;
And it revives again.
Some foe to his upright intent
Finds out his weaker part;
But pleasure wins his heart.
'Tis here the folly of the wise
Through all his art we view;
His conscience owns it true.
Bound on a voyage of awful length,
And dangers little known
Man vainly trusts his own.
But oars alone can ne'er prevail
To reach the distant coast ;
Or all the toil is lost.
TO A PROTESTANT LADY IN FRANCE.
A STRANGER's purpose in these lays
The path of sorrow, and that path alone, Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown; No traveller ever reach'd that blest abode, Who found not thorns and briers in his road. The world may dance along the flowery plain, Cheer'd as they go by many a sprightly strain, Where nature has her mossy velvet spread, With unshod feet they yet securely tread, Admonish'd, scorn the caution and the friend, Bent upon pleasure, heedless of its end. But he, who knew what human hearts would prove, How slow to learn the dictates of his love, That hard by nature and of stubborn will, A life of ease would make them harder still; In pity to the sinners he design'd To rescue from the ruins of mankind, Call'd for a cloud to darken all their years, And said, “ Go spend them in the vale of tears.” Oh, balmy gales of soul-reviving air, Oh, salutary streams that murmur there, These flowing from the fount of grace above, Those breathed from lips of everlasting love!