William Cowper

(26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire)

To The Rev. Mr. Newton, Rector Of St. Mary Woolnoth - Poem by William Cowper

Says the Pipe to the Snuff-box, 'I can't understand
What the ladies and gentlemen see in your face,
That you are in fashion all over the land,
And I am so much fallen into disgrace.

'Do but see what a pretty contemplative air
I give to the company,—pray do but note 'em,—
You would think that the wise men of Greece were all there,
Or, at least, would suppose them the wise men of Gotham.

'My breath is as sweet as the breath of blown roses,
While you are a nuisance where'er you appear;
There is nothing but snivelling and blowing of noses,
Such a noise as turns any man's stomach to hear.'

Then, lifting his lid in a delicate way,
And opening his mouth with a smile quite engaging.
The Box in reply was heard plainly to say,
'What a silly dispute is this we are Waging!

'If you have a little of merit to claim,
You may thank the sweet-smelling Virginian weed;
And I, if I seem to deserve any blame,
The before-mentioned drug in apology plead.

'Thus neither the praise nor the blame is our own,
No room for a sneer, much less a cachinnus;
We are vehicles, not of tobacco alone,
But of anything else they may choose to put in us.'


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010



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