William Cowper

(26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire)

Of Himself - Poem by William Cowper

William was once a bashful youth;
His modesty was such,
That one might say (to say the truth)
He rather had too much.

Some said that it was want of sense,
And others want of spirit,
(So blest a thing is impudence),
While others could not bear it.

But some a different notion had,
And at each other winking,
Observed, that though he little said,
He paid it off with thinking.

Howe'er, it happened, by degrees,
He mended and grew perter;
In company was more at ease,
And dressed a little smarter;

Nay, now and then would look quite gay,
As other people do;
And sometimes said, or tried to say,
A witty thing or so.

He eyed the women, and made free
To comment on their shapes;
So that there was, or seemed to be,
No fear of a relapse.

The women said, who thought him rough,
But now no longer foolish,
'The creature may do well enough,
But wants a deal of polish.'

At length, improved from head to heel,
'Twere scarce too much to say,
No dancing bear was so genteel,
Or half so dégagé.


Now that a miracle so strange
May not in vain be shown,
Let the dear maid who wrought the change
E'er claim him for her own.


Comments about Of Himself by William Cowper

  • (3/16/2016 6:47:00 AM)


    It is a sort of confession about the influence some lady had on the poet that had changed him from top to bottom and from inside to outside appearance.
    The poem is simply great and a lovely read. Thanks for sharing here.
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  • (7/22/2011 10:07:00 PM)


    Quite a clever poem, almost mischievous, well-worth publishing! I must wonder if the final insinuation was taken by the one who had influenced such a change in him and I am curious just how true to life the poem really is. Utterly delightful anyway! What a marvelous poet. Would that I wrote half so well. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poem Edited: Sunday, July 24, 2011


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