William Cowper

(26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire)

Horace. Book Ii. Ode X. - Poem by William Cowper

Receive, dear friend, the truths I teach,
So shalt thou live beyond the reach
Of adverse fortune's power;
Not always tempt the distant deep,
Nor always timorously creep
Along the treacherous shore.

He that holds fast the golden mean,
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,
Imbittering all his state.

The tallest pines feels most the power
Of wintry blast, the loftiest tower
Comes heaviest to the ground;
The bolts that spare the mountain's side,
His cloud-clapt eminence divide
And spread the ruin round.

The well-informed philosopher
Rejoices with a wholesome fear,
And hopes in spite of pain;
If winter bellow from the north,
Soon the sweet spring comes dancing forth,
And nature laughs again.

What if thine heaven be overcast,
The dark appearance will not last,
Expect a brighter sky;
The God that strings the silver bow
Awakes sometimes the muses too,
And lays his arrows by.

If hindrances obstruct thy way,
Thy magnanimity display,
And let thy strength be seen;
But oh! if Fortune fill thy sail
With more than a propitious gale,
Take half thy canvas in!

A REFLECTION ON THE FOREGOING ODE.

And is this all? Can reason do no more
Than bid me shun the deep and dread the shore?
Sweet moralist! afloat on life's rough sea
The Christian has an art unknown to thee;
He holds no parley with unmanly fears,
Where duty bids he confidently steers,
Faces a thousand dangers at her call,
And trusting in his God, surmount's them all.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010



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