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The rest is ice. Far hence, where, most severe,
Bleak winter well-nigh saddens all the year,
Their infant growth began. He bade arise
Their uncouth forms, portentous in our eyes.
Oft as, dissolved by transient suns, the snow
Left the tall cliff, to join the flood below,
He caught, and curdled with a freezing blast,
The current, ere it reach'd the boundless waste.
By slow degrees uprose the wondrous pile,
And long successive ages rollid the while,
Till, ceaseless in its growth, it claim'd to stand
Tall as its rival mountains on the land.
Thus stood, and, unremovable by skill
Or force of man, had stood the structure still ;
But that, though firmly fix’d, supplanted yet
By pressure of its own enormous weight,
It left the shelving beach — and, .with a sound
That shook the bellowing waves and rocks around,
Self-lanch'd, and swiftly, to the briny wave,
As if instinct with strong desire to lave,
Down went the ponderous mass. So bards of old,
How Delos swam the Ægean deep, have told.
But not of ice was Delos. Delos bore
Herb, fruit, and flower. She, crown'd with laurel, wore,
Even under wintry skies, a summer smile ;
And Delos was Apollo's favourite isle.
But, horrid wanderers of the deep, to you
He deems Cimmerian darkness only due.
Your hated birth he deign'd not to survey,
But, scornful, turn'd his glorious eyes away.
Hence! Seek your home, nor longer rashly dare

The darts of Phæbus, and a softer air ;
Lest ye regret, too late, your native coast,
In no congenial gulf for ever lost !


[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,
When such a distant wretch as I,

Wash'd headlong from on board ;
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.

No braver chief could Albion boast

Than he with whom he went,
Nor ever ship left Albion's coast

With warmer wishes sent.
He loved them both, but both in vain,
Nor him beheld, nor her again.

Not long beneath the whelming brine,

Expert to swim, he lay ;
Nor soon he felt his strength decline,

Or courage die away ;
But waged with death a lasting strife,
Supported by despair of life.
He shouted: nor his friends had fail'd

To check the vessel's course,
But so the furious blast prevail'd,

That, pitiless, per force
They left their outcast mate behind,
And scudded still before the wind.

Some succour yet they could afford;

And such as storms allow,
The cask, the coop, the floated cord,

Delay'd not to bestow.
But he, they knew, nor ship nor shore,
Whate'er they gave, should visit more.

Nor, cruel as it seem'd, could he

Their haste himself condemn,
Aware that flight, in such a sea,

Alone could rescue them ;
Yet bitter felt it still to die
Deserted, and his friends so nigh.

He long survives who lives an hour

In ocean, self-upheld :
And so long he, with unspent power,

His destiny repelld;
And ever as the minutes flew,
Entreated help, or cried — " Adieu !”

At length, his transient respite past,

His comrades, who before
Had heard his voice in every blast,

Could catch the sound no more.
For then, by toil subdued, he drank
The stifling wave, and then he sank.

No poet wept him: but the page

Of narrative sincere,
That tells his name, his worth, his age,

Is wet with Anson's tear;
And tears by bards or heroes shed
Alike immortalize the dead.

I therefore purpose not, or dream,

Descanting on his fate,
To give the melancholy theme

A more enduring date.
But misery still delights to trace
Its 'semblance in another's case.

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,
Woven with pains into his plan,

To-morrow rends away.

The bow well bent, and smart the spring,

Vice seems already slain ;
But passion rudely snaps the string,

And it revives again.

Some foe to his upright intent

Finds out his weaker part;
Virtue engages his assent,

But pleasure wins his heart.

'Tis here the folly of the wise

Through all his art we view;
And, while his tongue the charge denies,

His conscience owns it true.

Bound on a voyage of awful length,

And dangers little known
A stranger to superior strength,

Man vainly trusts his own.

But oars alone can ne'er prevail

To reach the distant coast ;
The breath of heaven must swell the sail,

Or all the toil is lost.



[1782.] MADAM,

A STRANGER's purpose in these lays
Is to congratulate, and not to praise.
To give the creature her Creator's due
Were sin in me, and an offence to you.
From man to man, or even to woman paid,
Praise is the medium of a knavish trade,
A coin by craft for folly's use design'd,
Spurious, and only current with the blind.

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!

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