William Cowper



[Written Aug, 1788.  Published in The Gentleman's Magazine,
     Dec., 1791; then in pamphlet with On Receipt of my Mother's
, 1798; afterwards in Poems, 1798.]

THE noon was shady, and soft airs
     Swept Ouse's silent tide,
When, 'scap'd from literary cares,
     I wander'd on his side.

My spaniel, prettiest of his race,
     And high in pedigree,
(Two nymphs, adorned with ev'ry grace,
     That spaniel found for me)

Now wanton'd lost in flags and reeds,
     Now starting into sight
Pursued the swallow o'er the meads
     With scarce a slower flight.

It was the time when Ouse display'd
     His lilies newly blown;
Their beauties I intent survey'd,
     And one I wish'd my own.

With cane extended far I sought
     To steer it close to land;
But still the prize, though nearly caught,
     Escap'd my eager hand.

Beau marked my unsuccessful pains
     With fixt consid'rate face,
And puzzling set his puppy brains
     To comprehend the case.

But with a chirrup clear and strong,
     Dispersing all his dream,
I thence withdrew, and follow'd long
     The windings of the stream.

My ramble finished, I return'd.
     Beau trotting far before
The floating wreath again discern'd,
     And plunging left the shore.

I saw him with that lily cropp'd
     Impatient swim to meet
My quick approach, and soon he dropp'd
     The treasure at my feet.

Charm'd with the sight, the world, I cried,
     Shall hear of this thy deed,
My dog shall mortify the pride
     Of man's superior breed;

But, chief, myself I will enjoin,
     Awake at duty's call,
To show a love as prompt as thine
     To Him who gives me all.






The Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper.
H. S. Milford, ed.
London: Henry Frowde, 1905. 382-3.


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