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408 ON MY MOTHERS PICTURE.
And still to be so to my latest age,
Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay
Such honours to thee as my numbers may;
Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere,
Not scorned in heaven, though little noticed here.
Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the hours,
When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flowers,
The violet, the pink, and jessamine,
I pricked them into paper with a pin,
(And thou wast happier than myself the while,
Wouldst softly speak, and stroke my head, and smile,)
Could those few pleasant days again appear,
Might one wish bring them, would I wish them here?
I would not trust my heart;— the dear delight
Seems so to be desired, perhaps I might.—
But no—what here we call our life is such,
So little to be loved, and thou so much,
That I should ill requite thee to constrain
Thy unbound spirit into bonds again.
Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coast
(The storms all weathered, and the ocean crossed)
Shoots into port at some well-havened isle,
Where spices breathe, and brighter seasons smile,
There sits quiescent on the floods, that show
Her beauteous form reflected clear below,
While airs impregnated with incense play
Around her, fanning light her streamers gay;
So thou, with sails how swift! hast reached the shore,
"Where tempests never beat nor billows roar1;"
And thy loved consort on the dangerous tide
Of life long since has anchored by thy side.
But me, scarce hoping to attain that rest,
Always from port withheld, always distressed,—
Me howling blasts drive devious, tempest-tossed,
Sails ripped, seams opening wide, and compass lost,
And day by day some current's thwarting force
Sets me more distant from a prosperous course.
Yet oh, the thought, that thou art safe, and he!
That thought is joy, arrive what may to me.
My boast is not that I deduce my birth
From loins enthroned and rulers of the earth;
But higher far my proud pretensions rise,—
The son of parents passed into the skies.
And now, farewell !—Time unrevoked has run
His wonted course, yet what I wished is done.
By contemplation's help, not sought in vain,
I seem to have lived my childhood o'er again;
To have renewed the joys that once were mine
Without the sin of violating thine;
And. while the wings of fancy still are free,
And I can view this mimic show of thee,
Time has but half succeeded in his theft,—
Thyself removed, thy power to sooth* me left.
THE POPLAR FIELD.
The poplars are felled; farewell to the shade,
And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade!
The winds play no longer and sing in the leaves,
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives.
Twelve years have elapsed since I first 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 a 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,
I'.re another such grove shall rise in its stead.
'Tis a sight to engage me, if anything 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.1
ON A MISCHIEVOUS BULL,
WHICH THE OWNER OF HIM SOLD AT THE AUTHOR'S INSTANCE.
Go !—thou art all unfit to share
The pleasures of this place
With such as its old tenants are,
Creatures of gentler race.
The squirrel here his hoard provides,
Aware of wintry storms;
And woodpeckers explore the sides
Of rugged oaks for worms.
The sheep here smoothes the knotted thorn
With frictions of her fleece;
And here I wander eve and morn,
Like her, a friend to peace.
* Cowper afterwards altered this last stanza in the following manner:
The change both my heart and my fancy employs,
I reflect on the frailty of man antl his joys;
Short-lived as we are, yet our pleasures, we see,
Have a still shorter date, and die sooner than we.
\h !—I could pity thee exiled
From this secure retreat;—
I would not lose it to be styled
The happiest of the great.
But thou canst taste no calm delight;
Thy pleasure is to show
Thy magnanimity in fight,
Thy prowess,—therefore, go!
I care not whether east or north,
So I no more may find thee;
The angry Muse thus sings thee forth,
And daps the gate behind thee.
Here lies one who never drew
Blood himself, yet many slew;
Gave the gun its aim, and figure
Made in field, yet ne'er pulled trigger.
Armed men have gladly made
Him their guide, and him obeyed;
At his signified desire,
Would advance, present, and fire.
Stout he was, and large of limb,
Scores have fled at sight of him;
And to all this fame he rose
Only following his nose.
Neptune was he called; not he
Who controls the boisterous sea.
But of happier command,
Neptune of the furrowed land;
And, your wonder vain to shorten,
Pointer to Sir "jfohn Throckmorton.
EPITAPH ON FOP,
A DOG BELONGING TO LADY THROCKMORTON.
Though once a puppy, and though Fop by name,
Here moulders one whose bones some honour claim:
No sycophant, although of spaniel race,
And though no hound, a martyr to the chase.
Ye squirrels, rabbits, leverets, rejoice!
Your haunts no longer echo to his voice;
This record of his fate exulting view,
He died worn out with vain pursuit of you.
"Yes "—the indignant shade of Fop replies— "And worn with vain pursuit man also dies."
SONNET TO GEORGE ROMNEY, ESQ.
ON HIS PICTURE OF ME IN CRAYONS, DRAWN AT EARTHAM, IN THE SIXTY-FIRST YEAR OF MY AGE, AND IN THE MONTHS OF AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER, 1792.
ROMNEY, expert infallibly to trace
On chart or canvas, not the form alone
And semblance, but, however faintly shown,
The mind's impression too on every face;
With strokes that time ought never to erase
Thou hast so pencilled mine, that though I own
The subject worthless, I have never known
The artist shining with superior grace.
But this I mark,—that symptoms none of woe
In thy incomparable work appear.
Well—I am satisfied it should be so,
Since, on maturer thought, the cause is clear;
For in my looks what sorrow couldst thou see,
When I was Hayley's guest, and sat to thee?
ON RECEIVING HAYLEY'S PICTURE.
4.N language warm as could be breathed or penned
Thy picture speaks the original my friend,
Not by those looks that indicate thy mind,
They only speak thee friend of all mankind;
Expression here more soothing still I see,
That friend of all, a partial friend to me.
EPITAPH ON MR. CHESTER OF CHICHELEY.
Tears now, and cease not, where the good man lies,
Till all who know him follow to the skies.
Tears therefore fall where Chester's ashes sleep;
Him wife, friends, brothers, children, servants, weep;
And justly—few shall ever him transcend
As husband, parent, brother, master, friend.
ON A PLANT OF VIRGIN'S-BOWER,
DESIGNED TO COVER A GARDEN-SEAT.
Spring of 1793.
Thrive, gentle plant! and weave a bower
For Mary and for me,
And deck with many a splendid flower
Thy foliage large and free.
Thou earnest from Eartham, and wilt shade,
(If truly I divine,)
Some future day the illustrious head
Of him who made thee mine.
Should Daphne show a jealous frown,
And Envy seize the Bay,
Affirming none so fit to crown
Such honoured brows as they.
Thy cause with zeal we shall defend,
And with convincing power!
For why should not the Virgin's friend
Be crowned with Virgin's Bower?
TO MY COUSIN, ANNE BODHAM,
ON RECEIVING FROM HER A NETWORK PURSE, MADE BY HERSELF.
May 4, 1793.
My gentle Anne, whom heretofore,
When I was young, and thou no more
Than plaything for a nurse,
I danced and fondled on my knee,
A kitten both in size and glee,—
I thank thee for my purse.
Gold pays the worth of all things here:
E«st not of love ;—that gem's too dear
For richest rogues to win it;
I, therefore, as a proof of love,
Esteem thy present far above
The best things kept within it.
FOR A HERMITAGE IN THE AUTHOR'S GARDEN.
This cabin, Mary, in my sight appears,
Built as it has been in our waning years,
A rest afforded to our weary feet,
Preliminary to—the last retreat.
TO MRS. UNWIN.
Mary! I want a lyre with other strings,
Such aid from heaven as some have feigned they drew, An eloquence scarce given to mortals, new
And undebased by praise of meaner things,