William Cowper

(26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire)

On The Death Of The Vice-Chancellor, A Physician (Translated From Milton) - Poem by William Cowper

Learn ye nations of the earth
The condition of your birth,
Now be taught your feeble state,
Know, that all must yield to Fate!

If the mournful Rover, Death,
Say but once-resign your breath-
Vainly of escape you dream,
You must pass the Stygian stream.

Could the stoutest overcome
Death's assault, and baffle Doom,
Hercules had both withstood
Undiseas'd by Nessus' blood.

Ne'er had Hector press'd the plain
By a trick of Pallas slain,
Nor the Chief to Jove allied
By Achilles' phantom died.

Could enchantments life prolong,
Circe, saved by magic song,
Still had liv'd, and equal skill
Had preserv'd Medea still.

Dwelt in herbs and drugs a pow'r
To avert Man's destin'd hour,
Learn'd Machaon should have known
Doubtless to avert his own.

Chiron had survived the smart
Of the Hydra-tainted dart,
And Jove's bolt had been with ease
Foil'd by Asclepiades.

Thou too, Sage! of whom forlorn
Helicon and Cirrha mourn,
Still had'st filled thy princely place,
Regent of the gowned race,

Had'st advanc'd to higher fame
Still, thy much-ennobled name,
Nor in Charon's skiff explored
The Tartarean gulph abhorr'd.

But resentful Proserpine,
Jealous of thy skill divine,
Snapping short thy vital thread
Thee too number'd with the Dead.

Wise and good! untroubled be
The green turf that covers thee,
Thence in gay profusion grow
All the sweetest flow'rs that blow!

Pluto's Consort bid thee rest!
Oeacus pronounce thee blest!
To her home thy shade consign,
Make Elysium ever thine!


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010



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