include $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT']."/include/analytics.php"; ?>include $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT']."/include/people-header.php"; ?>
William Cowper (26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800) was an English poet and hymnodist.
Born: November 26th, 1731
Died: April 25th, 1800
Quotes: 169 sourced quotes total (includes 3 misattributed, 4 about)
|Words (count)||21||2 - 187|
|Search Results||46||10 - 290|
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.
God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.
Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan his work in vain; God is his own interpreter, And he will make it plain.
Variety 's the very spice of life.
His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower.
Deep in unfathomable mines Of never failing skill, He treasures up his bright designs, And works his sovereign will.
"Regions Caesar never knew Thy posterity shall sway; Where his eagles never flew, None invincible as they." Such the bard's prophetic words, Pregnant with celestial fire, Bending as he swept the chords Of his sweet but awful lyre.
Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour.
What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! How sweet their memory still! But they have left an aching void The world can never fill.
Ever let the Fancy roam, Pleasure never is at home.
And Satan trembles when he sees The weakest saint upon his knees.
How much a dunce that has been sent to roam Excels a dunce that has been kept at home!
God made the country, and man made the town.
Misery still delights to trace Its semblance in another's case.
Glory, built On selfish principles, is shame and guilt.
Nature is but a name for an effect, Whose cause is God.
Absence of occupation is not rest, A mind quite vacant is a mind distressed.
The path of sorrow, and that path alone, Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown.
Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs Receive our air, that moment they are free! They touch our country, and their shackles fall.
O Winter, ruler of the inverted year!
He is the freeman whom the truth makes free.
No man can be a patriot on an empty stomach.
There is a pleasure in poetic pains Which only poets know.
Freedom has a thousand charms to show, That slaves, howe'er contented, never know.
The dogs did bark, the children screamed, Up flew the windows all; And every soul cried out, "Well done!" As loud as he could bawl.
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.
Made poetry a mere mechanic art.
Religion! what treasure untold Resides in that heavenly word!
Though on pleasure she was bent, She had a frugal mind.
What is it but a map of busy life, Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns?
Mountains interposed Make enemies of nations, who had else Like kindred drops, been mingled into one.
Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds, Exhilarate the spirit, and restore The tone of languid nature.
Dream after dream ensues; And still they dream that they shall still succeed; And still are disappointed.
Here the heart May give a useful lesson to the head, And Learning wiser grow without his books.
O 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.
Which not even critics criticise.
All learned, and all drunk!
It seems the part of wisdom.
A hat not much the worse for wear.
Who loves a garden loves a greenhouse too.
Thus happiness depends, as Nature shows, Less on exterior things than most suppose.
O Popular Applause! what heart of man Is proof against thy sweet seducing charms?
Reading what they never wrote, Just fifteen minutes, huddle up their work, And with a well-bred whisper close the scene.
The earth was made so various, that the mind Of desultory man, studious of change And pleased with novelty, might be indulged.
How fleet is a glance of the mind! Compared with the speed of its flight The tempest itself lags behind, And the swift-winged arrows of light.
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.
Candid, and generous, and just, Boys care but little whom they trust, An error soon corrected— For who but learns in riper years That man, when smoothest he appears Is most to be suspected?
I will venture to assert, that a just translation of any ancient poet in rhyme is impossible. No human ingenuity can be equal to the task of closing every couplet with sounds homotonous, expressing at the same time the full sense, and only the full sense of his original.
The Frenchman's darling.
The beggarly last doit.
True Charity, a plant divinely nurs'd.
Gloriously drunk, obey the important call.
The innocent seldom find an uncomfortable pillow.
She that asks Her dear five hundred friends.
Riches have wings, and grandeur is a dream.
Detested sport, That owes its pleasures to another's pain.
I was a stricken deer that left the herd Long since.
A moral, sensible, and well-bred man Will not affront me, and no other can.
But war's a game, which, were their subjects wise, Kings would not play at.
Not a flower But shows some touch, in freckle, streak or stain, Of his unrivall'd pencil.
Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true,— A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew.
Great contest follows, and much learned dust Involves the combatants; each claiming truth, And truth disclaiming both.
While fancy, like the finger of a clock, Runs the great circuit, and is still at home.
Give what Thou canst, without Thee we are poor; And with Thee rich, take what Thou wilt away.
With spots quadrangular of diamond form, Ensanguined hearts, clubs typical of strife, And spades, the emblems of untimely graves.
With filial confidence inspired, Can lift to Heaven an unpresumptuous eye, And smiling say, My Father made them all!
From reveries so airy, from the toil Of dropping buckets into empty wells, And growing old in drawing nothing up.
Fate steals along with silent tread, Found oftenest in what least we dread, Frowns in the storm with angry brow, But in the sunshine strikes the blow.
Philologists, who chase A panting syllable through time and space, Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark.
Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one, Have oft-times no connexion, Knowledge dwells in heads replete with thoughts of other men, Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
Nature, exerting an unwearied power, Forms, opens, and gives scent to every flower; Spreads the fresh verdure of the field, and leads The dancing Naiads through the dewy meads.
No voice divine the storm allay'd, No light propitious shone; When, snatch'd from all effectual aid, We perish'd, each alone; But I beneath a rougher sea, And whelmed in deeper gulphs than he.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass, The mere materials with which wisdom builds, Till smoothed and squared and fitted to its place, Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich. Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more. Books are not seldom talismans and spells.
In indolent vacuity of thought.
Whoe'er was edified, themselves were not.
The still small voice is wanted.
The sounding jargon of the schools.
Low ambition and the thirst of praise.
Remorse, the fatal egg by Pleasure laid.
Doing good, Disinterested good, is not our trade.
The son of parents pass'd into the skies.
Is base in kind, and born to be a slave.
As if the world and they were hand and glove.
Built God a church, and laugh'd his word to scorn.
Some to the fascination of a name Surrender judgment hoodwink'd.
But strive still to be a man before your mother.
Survivor sole, and hardly such, of all that once lived here
Domestic happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise that has survived the fall!
As dreadful as the Manichean god, Adored through fear, strong only to destroy.
A kick that scarce would move a horse May kill a sound divine.
Presume to lay their hand upon the ark Of her magnificent and awful cause.
A worm is in the bud of youth, And at the root of age.
He would not, with a peremptory tone, Assert the nose upon his face his own.
United yet divided, twain at once: So sit two kings of Brentford on one throne.
It seems idolatry with some excuse, When our forefather Druids in their oaks Imagined sanctity.
Those golden times And those Arcadian scenes that Maro sings, And Sidney, warbler of poetic prose.
Praise enough To fill the ambition of a private man, That Chatham's language was his mother tongue.
Transforms old print To zigzag manuscript, and cheats the eyes Of gallery critics by a thousand arts.
His wit invites you by his looks to come, But when you knock it never is at home.
An idler is a watch that wants both hands; As useless when it goes as when it stands.
Oh that those lips had language! Life has pass'd With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
''''Tis hard if all is false that I advance, A fool must now and then be right by chance.'''
How various his employments whom the world Calls idle, and who justly in return Esteems that busy world an idler too!
There is a fountain fill'd with blood Drawn from Emmanuel's veins; And sinners, plung'd beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.
Pernicious weed! whose scent the fair annoys, Unfriendly to society's chief joys, Thy worst effect is banishing for hours The sex whose presence civilizes ours.
So manifold, all pleasing in their kind, All healthful, are the employs of rural life, Reiterated as the wheel of time, Runs round; still ending, and beginning still.
So Fancy dreams. Disprove it, if ye can, Ye reasoners broad awake, whose busy search Of argument, employed too oft amiss, Sifts half the pleasures of short life away!
I am monarch of all I survey, My right there is none to dispute; From the center all round to the sea I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
But many a crime deem'd innocent on earth Is register'd in Heaven; and these no doubt Have each their record, with a curse annex'd. Man may dismiss compassion from his heart, But God will never.
I would not have a slave to till my ground, To carry me, to fan me while I sleep And tremble when I wake, for all the wealth That sinews bought and sold have ever earn'd.
Some must be great. Great offices will have Great talents. And God gives to every man The virtue, temper, understanding, taste, That lifts him into life, and lets him fall Just in the niche he was ordain'd to fill.
I would not enter on my list of friends, (Though graced with polish'd manners and fine sense, Yet wanting sensibility) the man Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm. An inadvertent step may crush the snail That crawls at evening in the public path; But he that has humanity, forewarn'd, Will tread aside, and let the reptile live.
Sweet stream that winds through yonder glade, Apt emblem of a virtuous maid Silent and chaste she steals along, Far from the world's gay busy throng: With gentle yet prevailing force, Intent upon her destined course; Graceful and useful all she does, Blessing and blest where'er she goes; Pure-bosom'd as that watery glass, And Heaven reflected in her face.
I burn to set the imprison'd wranglers free, And give them voice and utterance once again. Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast, Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round, And while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn Throws up a steamy column, and the cups That cheer but not inebriate wait on each, So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Elegant as simplicity, and warm As ecstasy.
That good diffused may more abundant grow.
I play with syllables and sport in song
Thus neither the praise nor the blame is our own.
I believe no man was ever scolded out of his sins.
Our wasted oil unprofitably burns, Like hidden lamps in old sepulchral urns.
'T is Providence alone secures In every change both mine and yours.
I shall not ask Jean Jacques Rousseau If birds confabulate or no.
An honest man, close-buttoned to the chin, Broadcloth without, and a warm heart within.
Beware of desp'rate steps! The darkest day (Live till tomorrow) will have passed away.
No wild enthusiast ever yet could rest, Till half mankind were like himself possess'd.
I cannot talk with civet in the room, A fine puss-gentleman that's all perfume.
The solemn fop; significant and budge; A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge.
But that disease when soberly defined Is the false fire of an o'erheated mind.
Absence from whom we love is worse than death, And frustrate hope severer than despair.
Manner is all in all, whate'er is writ, The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
A business with an income at its heels Furnishes always oil for its own wheels.
There goes the parson, O illustrious spark! And there, scarce less illustrious, goes the clerk.
And the tear that is wiped with a little address, May be follow'd perhaps by a smile.
Shine by the side of every path we tread With such a luster, he that runs may read.
Visits are insatiable devourers of time, and fit only for those who, if they did not that, would do nothing.
There is a bird who by his coat, And by the hoarseness of his note, Might be supposed a crow.
There is mercy in every place, And mercy, encouraging thought! Gives even affliction a grace And reconciles man to his lot.
Reasoning at every step he treads, Man yet mistakes his way, While meaner things, whom instinct leads, Are rarely known to stray.
Society friendship and love Divinely bestow'd upon man, O had I the wings of a dove How soon I would taste you again!
And still to love, though prest with ill, In wintry age to feel no chill, With me is to be lovely still, My Mary!
His head, Not yet by time completely silvered o'er, Bespoke him past the bounds of freakish youth, But strong for service still, and unimpaired.
But oars alone can ne'er prevail To reach the distant coast; The breath of Heaven must swell the sail, Or all the toil is lost.
Oh! for a closer walk with God, A calm and heav'nly frame; A light to shine upon the road That leads me to the Lamb!
But the sound of the church-going bell These valleys and rocks never heard; Ne'er sigh'd at the sound of a knell, Or smiled when a Sabbath appear'd.
Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appear'd, And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard: To carry nature lengths unknown before, To give a Milton birth, ask'd ages more.
I pity bashful men, who feel the pain Of fancied scorn and undeserved disdain, And bear the marks upon a blushing face, Of needless shame, and self-impos'd disgrace.
For 't is a truth well known to most, That whatsoever thing is lost, We seek it, ere it come to light, In every cranny but the right.
But Conversation, choose what theme we may, And chiefly when religion leads the way, Should flow, like waters after summer show'rs, Not as if raised by mere mechanic powers.
Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness, Some boundless contiguity of shade, Where rumor of oppression and deceit, Of unsuccessful or successful war, Might never reach me more.
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 constrained to love thee.
He sees that this great roundabout The world, with all its motley rout, Church, army, physic, law, Its customs and its businesses, Is no concern at all of his, And says—what says he?—Caw.
He that holds fast the golden mean, 22 And lives contentedly between The little and the great, Feels not the wants that pinch the poor, Nor plagues that haunt the rich man's door.
When one that holds communion with the skies Has fill'd his urn where these pure waters rise, And once more mingles with us meaner things, 'T is e'en as if an angel shook his wings.
[...]the thievish jay Seeking her food, with ease might have purloined The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down Thy yet close-folded latitude of boughs And all thine embryo vastness at a gulp. But fate they growth decreed
And Katerfelto, with his hair on end At his own wonders, wondering for his bread. 'T is pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat, To peep at such a world,—to see the stir Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd.
The man that hails you Tom or Jack, And proves, by thumping on your back, His sense of your great merit, Is such a friend that one had need Be very much his friend indeed To pardon or to bear it.
Acquaint thyself with God, if thou would'st taste His works. Admitted once to his embrace, Thou shalt perceive that thou was blind before: Thine eye shall be instructed; and thine heart Made pure shall relish with divine delight Till then unfelt, what hands divine have wrought.
There is in souls a sympathy with sounds; And as the mind is pitched the ear is pleased With melting airs or martial, brisk, or grave: Some chord in unison with what we hear Is touched within us, and the heart replies. How soft the music of those village bells Falling at intervals upon the ear In cadence sweet!
Cowper, writing after Pope, had the advantage of knowing what to avoid; but he was misled by a false analogy, and seeing in Milton a great epic poet, austere in his manner and repellent of meretricious ornament, attempted to force on Homer a style which, rightly considered, is almost as artificial as Virgil's, and which, moreover, he was himself unequal to wield.
The mind of Cowper was, so to speak, naturally terrestrial. If a man wishes for a nice appreciation of the details of time and sense, let him consult Cowper's miscellaneous letters. Each simple event of every day—each petty object of external observation or inward suggestion, is there chronicled with a fine and female fondness, a wise and happy faculty, let us say, of deriving a gentle happiness from the tranquil and passing hour.
Have you ever read the letters of the poet Cowper? He had nothing—literally nothing—to tell anyone about; private life in a sleepy country town where Evangelical distrust of "the world" denied him even such miserable society as the place would have afforded. And yet one reads a whole volume of his letters with unfailing interest. How his tooth came loose at dinner, how he made a hutch for a tame hare, what he is doing about his cucumbers—all this he makes one follow as if the fate of empires hung on it.
Lights of the world, and stars of human race.
Silently as a dream the fabric rose — No sound of hammer or of saw was there.
Toll for the brave — The brave! that are no more; All sunk beneath the wave, Fast by their native shore!
Misses! the tale that I relate This lesson seems to carry — Choose not alone a proper mate, But proper time to marry.
Now let us sing — Long live the king, And Gilpin, long live he; And, when he next doth ride abroad, May I be there to see!
I praise the Frenchman [Voltaire], his remark was shrewd — How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude! But grant me still a friend in my retreat Whom I may whisper — solitude is sweet.
We can not but admire a man who, subject to a lifelong illness that inflicted with frequent recurrence an intense mental agony, fought persistently against his weakness—at times their master, at times a victim to their influence. Still he did not flinch even under this torture, but held his pen and pressed it to write in a cause which was distinctly unpopular. Cowper was preeminently a poet of feelings; he may have been melancholy, but he pointed out to his readers how they were themselves subjects of emotion. He owed a debt to Providence, and he rebuked the people for their follies. In doing so he was regardless of his own fame and of their opprobrium. He gave them tolerable advice, and strove to awaken them from their apathy to a sense of their duty towards their neighbours. First of poets, since the days of Milton, to champion the sacredness of religion, he was the forerunner of a new school that disliked the political satires of the disciples of Pope, and aimed at borrowing for their lines of song from the simple beauties of a perfect nature.