1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

William Lisle Bowles, "On the Harp and Despair of Cowper" La Belle Assemblee 1 (April 1806) 166.



Sweet Bard, whose tones great Milton might approve,
And Shakspeare, from high fancy's sphere,
Turning to the sound his ear,
Bend down a look of sympathy and love;
O swell the lyre again,
As in full accord it poured an angel's train!
But ah! what means that look aghast,
E'en while it seemed, in holy trance,
On scenes of bliss above to glance?
Was it a Fiend of Darkness pass'd!
Oh speak—
Paleness is upon his cheek,—
On his brow the big drops stand,
To airy vacancy
Points the dread silence of his eye,
And the lov'd lyre it falls, from his nerveless hand!

"Come peace of mind, delightful guest,
O come and make thy downy nest
Once more on his sad heart;"
Meek Faith, a drop of comfort shed;
Sweet Hope, support his aged head;
And Charity, avert the burning dart!
Fruitless the prayer — the night of deeper woes
Seems o'er the head, e'en now to close;
In vain the path of purity he trod,
In vain, in vain,
He pour'd from fancy's shell his sweetest hermit strain,
He has no hope on earth, forsake him not, O God.