William Cowper

26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire

Horace, Book Ii. Ode Xvi.

Ease is the weary merchant's prayer,
Who ploughs by night the Ægean flood,
When neither moon nor stars appear,
Or faintly glimmer through the cloud.

For ease the Mede with quiver graced,
For ease the Thracian hero sighs,
Delightful ease all pant to taste,
A blessing which no treasure buys.

For neither gold can lull to rest,
Nor all a Consul's guard beat off
The tumults of a troubled breast,
The cares that haunt a gilded roof.

Happy the man whose table shows
A few clean ounces of old plate,
Nor fear intrudes on his repose,
Nor sordid wishes to be great.

Poor short-lived things, what plans we lay
Ah, why forsake our native home?
To distant climates speed away;
For self sticks close where'er we roam.

Care follows hard, and soon o'ertakes
The well-rigg'd ship, the warlike steed;
Her destined quarry ne'er forsakes --
Not the wind flies with half her speed.

From anxious fears of future ill
Guard well the cheerful, happy now;
Gild e'en your sorrows with a smile,
No blessing is unmix'd below.

Thy neighing steeds and lowing herds,
Thy numerous flocks around thee graze,
And the best purple Tyre affords
Thy robe magnificent displays.

One me indulgent Heaven bestow'd
A rural mansion, neat and small;
This lyre; -- and as for yonder crowd,
The happiness to hate them all.
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