William Cowper (26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire)
An Apology For Not Showing Her What I Had Wrote
Did not my Muse (what can she less?)
Perceive her own unworthiness,
Could she by some well-chosen theme,
But hope to merit your esteem,
She would not thus conceal her lays,
Ambitious to deserve your praise.
But should my Delia take offence,
And frown on her impertinence,
In silence, sorrowing and forlorn,
Would the despairing trifler mourn,
Curse her ill-tuned, unpleasing lute,
Then sigh and sit for ever mute.
In secret therefore let her play,
Squandering her idle notes away
In secret as she chants along,
Cheerful and careless in her song;
Nor heeds she whether harsh or clear
Free from each terror, every fear,
From that, of all most dreaded, free,
The terror of offending thee.
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