1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

Cestriensis, "Lines addressed to a Lady with a Copy of Cowper's Poems" Morning Chronicle (31 August 1810).



To thee, dear Maid! let COWPER'S pleasing lays,
Sacred to virtue, paint domestic days,
Where love, and social bliss endear the scene,
And each kind heart, unclouded and serene,
Adores that Being, from whose bounties flow,
All that can cheer and bless this world below.
To thee, dear Maid! the Bard will wide unfold
Truth's stainless page, and cast in Fancy's mould
Rich, chastened sense, imagination strong,
Pervade each line, and clothe the moral song.
The pathway drear of Vice he bids thee shun;
The meed of Virtue shows, when Life's gay sun
Is set in gloomy night, and all aghast
The erring Spirits mourn, too late, the past.
Or, as he lists, the streams, the woods, the waste—
All Nature's charms pourtrays with classic taste:
Whether in Winter's fleecy robe they shine,
Or boast the thousand hues of Spring's decline,
When genial Summer decks the earth with flowers,
And breathes her balmy sweets from woodbine bowers,
A boundless theme, worthy alone the lyre,
That bade the Seasons bloom with true poetic fire.

Breathes there the Man, whose rude and callous mind,
Ne'er felt the joys and sorrows of his kind;
Whose eyes with kindred moisture ne'er overflow
At sight of human bliss — of human woe;
If such there be, let COWPER'S heaving muse
In other's bosoms pour celestial dews.
No sweets to him the feeling Bard conveys,
Self his whole thoughts, and selfish all his ways.
Not such thy soul, my MARY! doomed to feel,
Too oft, the anguish which thou can'st not heal:
Still thou may'st shed the blest, the pitying balm
Of consolation; and bestow the calm
Of mild Religion to the grief-worn breast,
That longs, yet fears, to meet eternal rest.
Such be thy care; — then prize the Poet's strain:
So shalt thou find, when life begins to wane,
Those grateful pleasures, that sublime repose,
Which those alone enjoy who feel for other's woes.
London, August 1st, 1810.