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“ Stick fast there, while I go and look.”


“ Don't go away for fear I should fall.


“ I have examined it every nook,
And what you have here is a sample of all:

Come, wheel around;

The dirt we have found,
Would buy an estate at a farthing a pound.”

Now, sister Ann, the guitar you must take,

Set it and sing it, and make it a song ;
I have varied the verse for variety's sake,
And cut it off short because it was long.

'Tis hobbling and lame,

Which critics won't blame,
For the sense and the sound they say should be the



[Presented to Miss Chester, the daughter of Mr Chester of Chichely, the brother-in-law of the Rev. Mr Bagot, so often mentioned in the Poet's letters. Written 1786.]


between east and west,
Disgrace their parent earth,
Whose deeds constrain us to detest

The day that gave them birth!
Not so when Stella's natal morn

Revolving months restore,
We can rejoice that she was born,

And wish her born once more !



This cap,* that so stately appears,

With ribbon-bound tassel on high,
Which seems by the crest that it rears

Ambitious of brushing the sky :
This cap to my cousin I owe,

She gave it, and gave me beside,
Wreathed into an elegant bow,

The ribbon with which it is tied :

This wheel-footed studying chair,

Contrived both for toil and repose,
Wide-elbow'd, and wadded with hair,

In which I both scribble and dose,
Bright-studded to dazzle the eyes,

And rival in lustre of that
In which, or astronomy lies,

Fair Cassiopeïa sat:

These carpets, so soft to the foot,

Caledonia's traffic and pride!
Oh, spare them, ye knights of the boot,

Escaped from a cross-country ride !
This table and mirror within,

Secure from collision and dust,
At which I oft shave cheek and chin,

And periwig nicely adjust :

This moveable structure of shelves,

For its beauty admired and its use,
And charged with octavos and twelves,

The gayest I had to produce;
Where, flaming in scarlet and gold,

My poems enchanted I view, * It is with this cap that Cowper is represented in his usual portraits.

And hope, in due time, to behold

My Iliad and Odyssey too :

This china, that decks the alcove,

Which here people call a buffet, But what the gods call it above,

Has ne'er been reveald to us as yet : These curtains, that keep the room warm,

Or cool, as the season demands, Those stoves that for pattern and form,

Seem the labour of Mulciber's hands,

All these are not half that I owe

To One, from our earliest youth To me ever ready to show

Benignity, friendship, and truth ; For time, the destroyer declared,

And foe of our perishing kind, If even her face he has spared,

Much less could he alter her mind.

Thus compass'd about with the goods

And chattels of leisure and ease, I indulge my poetical moods

In many such fancies as these ; And fancies I fear they will seem

Poets' goods are not often so fine ; The poets will swear that I dream,

When I sing of the splendour of mine.



A HERMIT, or, if 'chance you hold
That title now too trite and old,
A man, once young, who lived retired
As hermit could have well desired,
His hours of study closed at last,
And finish'd his concise repast,

Stoppled his cruse, replaced his book
Within its customary nook,
And, staff in hand, set forth to share
The sober cordial of sweet air,
Like Isaac, with a mind applied
To serious thought at evening-tide.
Autumnal rains had made it chill,
And from the trees, that fringed his hill,
Shades slanting at the close of day
Chill'd more his else delightful way.
Distant a little mile he spied
A western bank's still sunny side,
And right toward the favour'd place
Proceeding with his nimblest pace,
In hope to bask a little yet,
Just reach'd it when the sun was set.

Your hermit, young and jovial sirs !
Learns something from whate'er occurs-
And hence, he said, my mind computes
The real worth of man's pursuits.
His object chosen, wealth or fame,
Or other sublunary game,
Imagination to his view
Presents it deck'd with every hue,
That can seduce him not to spare
His powers of best exertion there,
But youth, health, vigour to expend
On so desirable an end.
Ere long approach life's evening shades,
The glow that fancy gave it fades ;
And, earn’d too late, it wants the grace
Which first engaged him in the chase.

True, answer'd an angelic guide,
Attendant at the senior's side
But whether all the time it cost

the fruitless chase be lost,
Must be decided by the worth
Of that which call'd his ardour forth.
Trifles pursued, whate'er the event,
Must cause him shame or discontent ;

A vicious object still is worse,
Successful there he wins a curse ;
But he, whom even in life's last stage
Endeavours laudable engage,
Is paid, at least, in peace of mind,
And sense of having well design'd;
And if, ere he attain his end,
His sun precipitate descend,
A brighter prize than that he meant
Shall recompense his mere intent.
No virtuous wish can bear a date
Either too early or too late.




[The Mortuary Verses," often so beautiful, always so impressive, were supplied at the request of Samuel Cox, parish clerk of Northampton. In that town, as in several others in England, it is customary to publish yearly about Christmas the annual deaths in the parish. To these lists of mortality Cowper's stanzas were appended; and it is not easy to conceive greater condescension than such a man thus supplying exquisite and valuable poetry in place of the wretched effusions which usually accompany these records of death. But the occasion offered an opportunity of perhaps advancing the interests of religion and morality, and that was reward and motive sufficient. See letter to Lady Hesketh, November 27, 1787, vol. II.]

Pallida Mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas,
Regumque turres.


Pale death with equal foot strikes wide the door
Of royal halls and hovels of the poor.

While thirteen moons saw smoothly run

The Nen's barge-laden wave,
All these, life's rambling journey done,

Have found their home, the grave.

Was man (frail always) made more frail

Than in foregoing years ?
Did famine, or did plague prevail,
That so much death appears

s ?

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