William Cowper


from The Task, Book I: The Sofa

Thou know’ st my praise of nature most sincere,
And that my raptures are not conjur’ d up
To serve occasions of poetic pomp,
But genuine, and art partner of them all.
How oft upon yon eminence our pace
Has slacken’ d to a pause, and we have borne
The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew,
While admiration, feeding at the eye,
And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene.
Thence with what pleasure have we just discern’ d
The distant plough slow-moving, and beside
His lab’ ring team, that swerv’ d not from the track,

from The Task, Book II: The Time-Piece

England, with all thy faults, I love thee still
My country! and while yet a nook is left
Where English minds and manners may be found,
Shall be constrain’ d to love thee. Though thy clime
Be fickle, and thy year, most part, deform’ d
With dripping rains, or wither’ d by a frost,
I would not yet exchange thy sullen skies
And fields without a flow’ r, for warmer France
With all her vines; nor for Ausonia’ s groves
Of golden fruitage and her myrtle bow’ rs.
To shake thy senate, and from heights sublime

from The Task, Book VI: The Winter Walk at Noon

Thus heav’ n-ward all things tend. For all were once
Perfect, and all must be at length restor’ d.
So God has greatly purpos’ d; who would else
In his dishonour’ d works himself endure
Dishonour, and be wrong’ d without redress.
Haste then, and wheel away a shatter’ d world,
Ye slow-revolving seasons! we would see,
(A sight to which our eyes are strangers yet)
A world that does not dread and hate his laws,
And suffer for its crime; would learn how fair
The creature is that God pronounces good,

On the Loss of the Royal George

Toll for the brave—
The brave! that are no more:
All sunk beneath the wave,
Fast by their native shore.
Eight hundred of the brave,
Whose courage well was tried,
Had made the vessel heel
And laid her on her side;
A land-breeze shook the shrouds,
And she was overset;
Down went the Royal George,
With all her crew complete.

Sonnet to William Wilberforce, Esq.

Thy country, Wilberforce, with just disdain,
Hears thee, by cruel men and impious, call'd
Fanatic, for thy zeal to loose th' enthrall'd
From exile, public sale, and slav'ry's chain.
Friend of the poor, the wrong'd, the fetter-gall'd,
Fear not lest labour such as thine be vain!
Thou hast achiev'd a part; hast gain'd the ear
Of Britain's senate to thy glorious cause;
Hope smiles, joy springs, and tho' cold caution pause
And weave delay, the better hour is near,
That shall remunerate thy toils severe