1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

A Lady, "Lines addressed to William Cowper, Esq. on reading his Poems" Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (27 September 1787).



How few, like thee, in youth retir'd,
Still feels the patriotick glow;
By virtue (sacred muse) inspir'd,
To pay mankind the debt they owe.

Yes, Cowper, in the humble vale,
Thy trusted talent, well employ'd,
Will in the noblest sense prevail,
And thy Lord's favour be enjoy'd.

Tho' cruel diffidence withdrew
Thy trembling feet from Thamis shrine;
Nor hung the tempting seals in view,
Nor gave the splendid purse to shine.

Yet Nature's lib'ral grants were giv'n,
The Poet's quick perceptive soul;
"The eye that darts from earth to Heav'n,"
And views the comprehensive whole.

Ambition's heights let others climb,
Or Fortune's gaudy trappings prize;
Ambition suits not men of rhyme,
Content is fortune to the wise.

Yet why withold the Poet's meed,
Nor gild the laurels which they claim?
To sing — to play — to act — to plead,
With excellence brings wealth and fame.

Shall Siddon's powers, and Mara's voice,
Their tributary thousands raise;
And will no mark of publick choice,
Reward thy animated lays?

Poets and Seers, the same of old,
Still chose a similar disgrace;
The honour'd rank they ought to hold,
Deny'd them in their native place.

Thy task shall live to distant time,
And future ages see our bard
Translated in some foreign clime;
The foster-fathers rich reward.

Thus thy lov'd Homer, poor in Greece,
A wand'rer, and to fame unknown;
May twice acquire the golden fleece,
One sheering Pope's, the next thy own.