SUPPOSED TO BE WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER
SELKIRK, DURING HIS SOLITARY ABODE IN
THE ISLAND OF JUAN FERNANDEZ.
[Written (?). Published 1782. There is a MS. copy in the
British Museum, not in Cowper's handwriting; another among the Ash MSS.]
I am monarch of all I survey, |
My right there is none to dispute;
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
Oh, solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place.
I am out of humanity's reach,
I must finish my journey alone,
Never hear the sweet music of speech;
I start at the sound of my own.
The beasts, that roam over the plain,
My form with indifference see;
They are so unacquainted with man,
Their tameness is shocking to me.
Society, friendship, and love,
Divinely bestow'd upon man,
Oh, had I the wings of a dove,
How soon would I taste you again!
My sorrows I then might assuage
In the ways of religion and truth,
Might learn from the wisdom of age,
And be cheer'd by the sallies of youth.
Religion! what treasure untold
Resides in that heavenly word!
More precious than silver and gold,
Or all that this earth can afford.
But the sound of the church-going bell
These vallies and rocks never heard,
Ne'er sighed at the sound of a knell,
Or smil'd when a sabbath appear'd.
Ye winds, that have made me your sport,
Convey to this desolate shore
Some cordial endearing report
Of a land I shall visit no more.
My friends, do they now and then send
A wish or a thought after me?
O tell me I yet have a friend,
Though a friend I am never to see.
How fleet is a glance of the mind!
Compar'd with the speed of its flight,
The tempest itself lags behind,
And the swift wing'd arrows of light.
When I think of my own native land
In a moment I seem to be there;
But, alas! recollection at hand
Soon hurries me back to despair.
But the sea-fowl is gone to her nest,
The beast is laid down in his lair;
Ev'n here is a season of rest,
And I to my cabin repair.
There is mercy in every place;
And mercy, encouraging thought!
Gives even affliction a grace,
And reconciles man to his lot.
The Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper.
H. S. Milford, ed.
London: Henry Frowde, 1905. 311-2.
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