1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

William Holloway, "Extemporary Lines on reading Cowper's Task" European Magazine 40 (September 1801) 203.



Long, with licentious hand, th' Aonian string
Our Bards have swept, and from the sacred spring
Quaff'd the pure bev'rage, 'till inebriate grown,
Madly they revell'd round bright Fancy's throne:
Not so the Poet of fair Olney's shades
Amus'd the world, as thro' the rural glades
His charming numbers met the musing ear.
As pensive Philomela's soft and clear;
Wild as he rambled on from bow'r to bow'r,
He gather'd sweets from ev'ry opening flow'r—
Sweets redolent of bliss beyond the skies!
To which he taught the soaring soul to rise;
Then treasur'd up in store, with purpose kind,
A rich, exhaustless, banquet for the mind!