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These, and a thousand plagues that haunt the breast,
Fond of the phantom of an earthly rest,
Divine communion chases, as the day
Drives to their dens the obedient beasts of
See Judah's promised king!, bereft of all,
Driven out an exile from the face of Saul,
To distant caves the lonely wanderer flies,
To seek that peace a tyrant's frown denies.
Hear the sweet accents of his tuneful voice,
Hear him, o'erwhelmed with sorrow, yet rejoice;
No womanish or wailing grief has part,
No, not a moment, in his royal heart;
”Tis manly music, such as martyrs make,
Suffering with gladness for a Saviour's sake;
His soul exults, hope animates his lays,
The sense of mercy kindles into praise,
And wilds, familiar with a lion's roar,
Ring with ecstatic sounds unheard before;
'Tis love like his that can alone defeat
The foes of man, or make a desert sweet.
Religion does not censure or exclude
Unnumbered pleasures harmlessly pursued ;
To study culture, and with artful toil
To meliorate and tame the stubborn soil;
To give dissimilar yet fruitful lands
The grain, the herb, or plant that each demands;
To cherish virtue in an humble state,
And share the joys your bounty may create ;
To mark the matchless workings of the power,
That shuts within its seed the future flower,
Bids these in elegance of form excel,
In colour these, and those delight the smell,
Sends Nature forth, the daughter of the skies,
To dance on earth, and charm all human eyes :
To teach the canvass innocent deceit,
Or lay the landscape on the snowy sheet-
These, these are arts pursued without a crime,
That leave no stain upon the wing of Time.
Me poetry (or rather, notes that aim
Feebly and vainly at poetic fame)
Employs, shut out from more important views,
Fast by the banks of the slow-winding Ouse;
Content if, thus sequestered, I may raise
A monitor's, though not a poet's praise,
And while I teach an art too little known,
To close life wisely, may not waste my own.
EXAMINATION ON “RETIREMENT."
1. What moral lessons may be drawn from this poem ? 2. Where does Cowper discover a vein of humour in this poem? 3. Who was La Bruyère? 4. Are any of the above lessons practical ? 5. Who were the Nereids and Dryads ? 6. In which poet do we find most classical allusions—Milton, Shakspere, or
Cowper ? 7. What epithet would, perhaps, most distinctively characterise Cowper's
SEE, Winter comes, to rule the varied year,
Sullen and sad, with all his rising train;
Vapours, and clouds, and storms. Be these my theme;
These, that exalt the soul to solemn thought,
And heavenly musing. Welcome, kindred glooms! 5
Congenial horrors hail! with frequent foot,
Pleased have I, in my cheerful morn of life,
When nursed by careless solitude I lived,
And sung of Nature with unceasing joy,
Pleased have I wandered through your rough domain ; 10
Trod the pure-virgin snows, myself as pure ;
Heard the winds roar, and the big torrent burst;
Or seen the deep-fermenting tempest brewed
In the grim evening-sky. Thus passed the time;
Till through the lucid chambers of the south
Looked out the joyous Spring— looked out and smiled.
To thee, the patron of this first essay',
The muse, O Wilmington?, renews her song.
Since has she rounded the revolving year :
Skimmed the gay Spring ; on eagle-pinions borne,
Attempted through the summer blaze to rise ;
Then swept o'er Autumn with the shadowy gale,
And now among the wintry clouds again,
Rolled in the doubling storm, she tries to soar ;
To swell her note with all the rushing winds,
25 To suit her sounding cadence to the floods; As is her theme, her numbers wildly great ; 1 “ Winter,” published in 1726, was 2 Sir Spencer Compton, Earl of the first of the “ Seasons,” which ap- Wilmington, was the earliest patron peared.
Thrice happy! could she fill thy judging ear
With bold description, and with manly thought.
Nor art thou skilled in awful schemes alone,
And how to make a mighty people thrive:
But equal goodness, sound integrity,
A firm, unshaken, uncorrupted soul
Amid a sliding age, and burning strong,
Not vainly blazing, for thy country's weal —
A steady spirit, regularly free;
These, each exalting each, the statesman light
Into the patriot; these, the public hope
And eye to thee converting, bid the muse
Record what envy dares not flattery call.
Now, when the cheerless empire of the sky
To Capricorn the Centaur-archer yields,
And fierce Aquarius stains the inverted year
Hung o'er the farthest verge of Heaven, the sun
Scarce spreads o'er ether the dejected day.
Faint are his gleams, and ineffectual shoot
His struggling rays, in horizontal lines,
Through the thick air ; as clothed in cloudy storm,
Weak, wan, and broad, he skirts the southern sky;
And, soon descending, to the long dark night,
Wide-shading all, the prostrate world resigns.
Nor is the night unwished; while vital heat,
Light, life, and joy, the dubious day forsake.
Meantime, in sable cincture, shadows vast,
Deep-tinged and damp, and congregated clouds,
And all the vapoury turbulence of Heaven,
Involve the face of things. Thus Winter falls,
A heavy gloom oppressive o'er the world,
Through Nature shedding influence malign,
And rouses up the seeds of dark disease.
60 The soul of Man dies in him, loathing life, And black with more than melancholy views. The cattle droop; and o'er the furrowed land, Fresh from the plough, the dun discoloured flocks, Untended spreading, crop the wholesome root. Along the woods, along the moorish fens, Sighs the sad genius of the coming storm, And up among the loose disjointed cliffs, 1 This line is imitated from Horace. See Serm. lib. i. v. 36. - " inversum contristat Aquarius annum.”
And fractured mountains wild, the brawling brook,
And cave, presageful, send a hollow moan,
Resounding long in listening fancy's ear.
Then comes the father of the tempest forth,
Wrapped in black glooms. First, joyless rains obscure
Drive through the mingling skies with vapour foul,
Dash on the mountain's brow, and shake the woods,
That grumbling wave below. The unsightly plain
Lies a brown deluge; as the low-bent clouds
Pour flood on flood, yet unexhausted still
Combine, and deepening into night, shut up
The day's fair face. The wanderers of Heaven,
Each to his home, retire; save those that love
To take their pastime in the troubled air,
Or skimming flutter round the dimply pool.
The cattle from the untasted fields return,
And ask, with meaning low, their wonted stalls, 85
Or ruminate in the contiguous shade
Thither the household feathery people crowd -
The crested cock, with all his female train,
Pensive and dripping ; while the cottage-hind
Hangs o'er the enlivening blaze, and taleful there 90
Recounts his simple frolic: much he talks
And much he laughs, nor recks the storm that blows
Without, and rattles on his humble roof.
Wide o'er the brim, with many a torrent swelled, And the mixed ruin of its banks o'erspread,
At last the roused-up river pours along :
Resistless, roaring, dreadful, down it comes,
From the rude mountain, and the mossy wild,
Tumbling through rocks abrupt, and sounding far;
Then o'er the sanded valley floating spreads,
Calm, sluggish, silent; till again constrained
Between two meeting hills, it bursts a way,
Where rocks and woods o'erhang the turbid stream-
There gathering triple force, rapid and deep,
It boils, and wheels, and foams, and thunders through. 105
Nature ! great parent! whose unceasing hand
Rolls round the seasons of the changeful year,
How mighty, how majestic are thy works!
With what a pleasing dread they swell the soul !
That sees astonished, and astonished sings!
110 Ye too, ye winds, that now begin to blow