Addressed To Miss Macartney, Afterwards Mrs. Greville, On Reading The Prayer For Indifference
And dwells there in a female heart,
By bounteous heaven design'd
The choicest raptures to impact,
To feel the most refined;
Dwells there a wish in such a breast
Its nature to forego,
To smother in ignoble rest
At once both bliss and woe?
Far be the thought, and far the strain,
Which breathes the low desire.
How sweet soe'er the verse complain,
Though Phoebus string the lyre.
Come then, fair maid (in nature wise),
Who, knowing them, can tell
From generous sympathy what joys
The glowing bosom swell;
In justice to the various powers
Of pleasing, which you share,
Join me, amid your silent hours,
To form the better prayer.
With lenient balm may Oberon hence
To fairy land be driven,
With every herb that blunts the sense
Mankind received from heaven.
'Oh! if my Soverign Author please,
Far be it from my fate,
To live unblest in torpid ease,
And slumber on in state;
Each tender tie of life defied,
Whence social pleasures spring:
Unmoved with all the world beside,
A solitary thing.'
Some Alpine mountain wrapt in snow,
Thus braves the whirling blast,
Eternal winter doomed to know,
No genial spring to taste;
In vain warm suns their influence shed,
The zephyrs sport in vain,
He rears unchanged his barren head,
Whilst beauty decks the plain.
What though in scaly armour dress'd,
Indifference may repel
The shafts of woe, in such a breast
No joy can ever dwell.
'Tis woven in the world's great plan,
And fix'd by Heaven's decree,
That all the true delights of man
Should spring from Sympathy.
'Tis nature bids, and whilst the laws
Of nature we retain,
Our self-approving bosom draws
A pleasure from its pain.
Thus grief itself has comforts dear,
The sordid never know;
And ecstasy attends the tear,
When virtue bids it flow.
For when it streams from that pure source,
No bribes the heart can win,
To check, or alter from its course
The luxury within.
Peace to the phlegm of sullen elves,
Who, if from labour eased,
Extend no care beyond themselves,
Unpleasing and unpleased.
Let no low thought suggest the prayer!
Oh! grant, kind Heaven, to me,
Long as I draw ethereal air,
Where'er the heavenly nymph is seen,
With lustre-beaming eye,
A train, attendant on their queen,
(Her rosy chorus) fly.
The jocund Loves in Hymen's band,
With torches ever bright,
And generous Friendship hand in hand,
With Pity's watery sight.
The gentler virtues too are join'd,
In youth immortal warm,
The soft relations which combined
Give life her every charm.
The Arts come smiling in the close,
And lend celestial fire;
The marble breathes, the canvas glows,
The Muses sweep the lyre.
'Still may my melting bosom cleave
To sufferings not my own;
And still the sigh responsive heave,
Where'er is heard a groan.
So Pity shall take Virtue's part,
Her natural ally,
And fashioning my softened heart,
Prepare it for the sky.'
This artless vow may Heaven receive,
And you, fond maid, approve:
So may your guiding angel give
Whate'er you wish or love.
So may the rosy-fingered hours
Lead on the various year,
And every joy, which now is yours,
Extend a larger sphere.
And suns to come, as round they wheel,
Your golden moments bless,
With all a tender heart can feel,
Or lively fancy guess.
William Cowper's Other Poems
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