The Rose soon reddened into rage,

And, swelling with disdain,
Appealed to many a poet's page

To prove her right to reign.

The Lily's height bespoke command,

A fair imperial flower;
She seemed designed for Flora's hand,

The sceptre of her power.


This civil bickering and debate
The goddess chanced to hear,

And flew to save, ere yet too late,
The pride of the parterre;


Yours is, she said, the nobler hue,

And yours the statelier mien; And, till a third surpasses you,

Let each be deemed a queen.

Thus, soothed and reconciled, each seeks

The fairest British fair:
The seat of empire is her cheeks.

They reign united there.


The poplars are felled, farewell to the shade,
And the whispering sound of the cool colonade;
The winds play no longer and sing in the leaves,
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives.

Twelve years have elapsed, since I last took a view
Of my favourite field, and the bank where they grew;
And now in the grass behold they are laid,
And the tree is my seat, that once lent me shade.

The blackbird has fled to another retreat,
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat,
And the scene, where his melody charmed me before,
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more.

My fugitive years are all hasting away,

And I must ere long lie as lowly as they,

With a turf on my breast, and a stone at my head,

Ere another such grove shall arise in its stead.

"Tis a sight to engage me, if any thing can,
To muse on the perishing pleasures of man;
Though his life be a dream, his enjoyments, I see,
Have a being less durable even than he*.

* Mr. Cowper afterwards altered this last stanza in the following manner :—





John Gilpin was a citizen

Of credit and renown,
A train-band captain eke was he

Of famous London town.
John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear,

Though wedded we have been
These twice ten tedious years, yet we

No holiday have seen. To-morrow is our wedding day,

And we will then repair Unto the Bell at Edmonton

All in a chaise and pair.

The change both my heart and my fancy employs, I reflect on the frailty of man, and his joys; Short-lived as we are, yet our pleasures, we see, Have a still, shorter date, and die sooner than we. My sister, and my sister's child,

Myself and children three,
Will fill the chaise; so you must ride

On horseback after we.

He soon replied, I do admire

Of womankind but one,
And you are she, my dearest dear,

Therefore it shall be done.

I am a linen-draper bold,

As all the world doth know, And my good friend the calender

Will lend his horse to go.

Quoth Mrs. Gilpin, That's well said;

And for that wine is dear,
We will be furnished with our own,

Which is both bright and clear.

John Gilpin kissed his loving wife;

O'erjoyed was he to find
That though on pleasure she was bent,

She had a frugal mind.

The morning came, the chaise was brought,

But yet was not allowed
To drive up to the door, lest all

Should say that she was proud.

So three doors off the chaise was stayedj
Where they did all get in;

Six precious souls, and all agog
To dash through thick and thin.

Smack went the whip, round went the wheels,

Were never folk so glad,
The stones did rattle underneath

As if Cheapside were mad.

John Gilpin at his horse's side

Seized fast the flowing mane, And up he got, in haste to ride,

But soon came down again;

For saddle-tree scarce reached had he,

His journey to begin,
When, turning round his head, he saw

Three customers come in.

So down he came; for loss of time,

Although it grieved him sore,
Yet loss of pence, full well he knew,

Would trouble him much more.

'Twas long before the customers

Were suited to their mind,
When Betty screaming came down stairs,

"The wine is left behind!"

Good lack! quoth he—yet bring it me,

My leathern belt likewise,
In which I bear my trusty sword

When I do exercise.

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