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in a world of pain, To ages, where he goes Gall'd by affliction's heavy chain,
And hopeless of repose.
Strange fondness of the human heart,
Enamour'd of its harm ! Strange world, that costs it so much smart,
And still has power to charm.
Whence has the world her magic power ?
Why deem we death a foe? Recoil from weary life's best hour,
And covet longer wo?
The cause is Conscience Conscience oft
Her tale of guilt renews :
And dread of death ensues.
Then, anxious to be longer spared,
Man mourns his fleeting breath : All evils then seem light, compared
With the approach of Death.
'Tis judgment shakes him ; there's the fear,
That prompts the wish to stay : He has incurr'd a long arrear,
And must despair to pay.
Pay!-- follow Christ, and all is paid ;
His death your peace ensures ;
And calm descend to yours.
TO GEORGE ROMNEY, ESQ.
ON HIS PICTURE OF ME IN CRAYONS, DRAWN AT EARTHAM IN THE 61ST YEAR OF MY AGE, AND IN THE MONTHS OF AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER, 1792.
October, 1792. [The sonnet was begun at Eartham, but such was Cowper's state of depression, that its completion occupied nearly three months.]
ROMNEY, expert infallibly to trace
The mind's impression too on every face,
With strokes that time ought never to erase
The artist shining with superior grace.
In thy incomparable work appear.
Since, on maturer thought, the cause is clear;
ON RECEIVING HAYLEY'S PICTURE.
ON MR CHESTER, OF CHICHELEY.
[APRIL, 1793.] TEARS flow, and cease not, where the good man lies, Till all who know him follow to the skies. Tears therefore fall where Chester's ashes sleep ; Him wife, friends, brothers, children, servants, weepAnd justly-few shall ever him transcend As husband, parent, brother, master, friend.
ON A PLANT OF VIRGIN'S BOWER,
DESIGNED TO COVER A GARDEN-SEAT.
[SPRING OF 1793.]
THRIVE, gentle plant! and weave a bower
For Mary and for me,
Thy foliage large and free.
Thou camest from Eartham, and wilt shade
(If truly I divine)
Of him who made thee mine.
Should Daphne shew a jealous frown,
And Envy seize the bay,
Such honour'd brows as they,
Thy cause with zeal we shall defend,
And with convincing power ;
Be crown’d with Virgin's bower ?
TO MY COUSIN, ANNE BODHAM,
ON RECEIVING FROM HER A NETWORK PURSE, MADE BY HERSELF.
[May 4, 1793.]
My gentle Anne, whom heretofore,
Than plaything for a nurse,
I thank thee for my purse.
the worth of all things here ;
For richest rogues to win it:
The best things kept within it.
FOR AN HERMITAGE IN THE AUTHOR'S GARDEN.
MARY! I want a lyre with other strings, Such aid from Heaven as some have feign'd they drew, An eloquence scarce given to mortals, new
And undebased by praise of meaner things,
That ere through age or wo I shed my wings, I
may record thy worth with honour due, In verse as musical as thou art true,
And that immortalizes whom it sings. But thou hast little need. There is a book
By seraphs writ with beams of heavenly light, On which the eyes of God not rarely look,
A chronicle of actions just and bright ; There all thy deeds, my faithful Mary, shine, And, since thou own'st that praise, I spare thee mine.
ON HIS PRESENTING ME WITH AN ANTIQUE BUST OF HOMER.
KINSMAN beloved, and as a son, by me!
I reverence feel for him, and love for thee.
Joy, too, and grief. Much joy that there should be Wise men and learn'd, who grudge not to reward With some applause my bold attempt and hard,
Which others scorn: critics by courtesy. The grief is this — that, sunk in Homer's mine,
I lose my precious years, now soon to fail, Handling his gold, which, howsoe'er it shine,
Proves dross when balanced in the Christian scale. Be wiser thou-like our forefather Donne, Seek heavenly wealth, and work for God alone.
A YOUNG FRIEND,
ON HIS ARRIVING AT CAMBRIDGE WET, WHEN NO RAIN
HAD FALLEN THERE.
[May, 1793.] [This was addressed to Mr Johnson, the poet's kinsman, after
wards the Rev. Dr Johnson.] IF Gideon's fleece, which drench'd with dew he found, While moisture none refresh'd the herbs around, Might fitly represent the Church, endow'd With heavenly gifts, to heathens not allow'd ; In pledge, perhaps, of favours from on high, Thy locks were wet when others' locks were dry. Heaven grant us half the omen — may we see Not drought on others, but much dew on thee!