1793 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

Neophytus, "On Political Pursuits, to W. Cowper, Esq." Literary Magazine and British Review 10 (April 1793) 236.



Whilst others rush with frantic zeal
Across the fervid morn of life,
May I remote from tumult steal,
Where envy cannot gender strife.

Whilst others vaunt the public good,
And hoist ambition's swelling sail;
And boast amid the foaming flood,
A calm that cannot long prevail;

Might I, sweet soother of the mind,
With thee, obscure from glory, dwell;
And turn thy page — thy spirit find,
And feel a Cowper in my cell.

From thee distill celestial balm,
And feel the oil of comfort flow;
With thee enjoy a constant calm,
A calm a courtier cannot know.

Yes, friendly monitor of truth,
Congenial Cowper, let me scan thy page,
And learn, amid the misty morn of youth,
A lesson from enlighten'd age.

With thee partake the tranquil scene,
Where no dark Discord wings her way,
Or jarring tongue — or heart of spleen,
Disturbs the evening of the day.

With thee enjoy harmonious close
Of daily labour — 'mid the smile
Of kindred souls — where friendship glows,
And bids fell politics recoil.

Ye demons to domestic peace,
Begone, nor taint my purer cell;
Where ev'ry dark dispute shall cease,
And universal concord dwell.

Can Cowper suit the ruffled breast,
Or can his peaceful note be heard,
Where ev'ry social sound's supprest,
And harsh contentious jar perferr'd?

Ah, no! where passion darts her blaze,
Athwart the lustre of thy line;
She scares the eye, that else would gaze,
And fears the heart no longer thine.

Then let me quit the wrathful scene,
And seek thy friendly, soothing aid;
And live in lowly lot, serene,
Beneath the olive's peaceful shade.

There hearken to a still small voice,
That whispers wisdom from above;
That bids the humble heart rejoice,
And breathes humility and love.

How little think the giddy croud,
Who view with microscopic eye
The specious splendour of the proud,
And vent in vain the anxious sigh.

How little do they think the cot,
Or those who in a cottage live,
Have joys the wealthiest king has not,
And peace a palace cannot give.