William Cowper

26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire

R. S. S.

All-worshipped Gold! thou mighty mystery
Say by what name shall I address thee rather,
Our blessing, or our bane? Without thy aid,
The generous pangs of pity but distress
The human heart, that fain would feel the bliss
Of blessing others; and, enslaved by thee,
Far from relieving woes which others feel,
Misers oppress themselves. Our blessings then
With virtue when possessed; without, our bane.
If in my bosom unperceived there lurk
The deep-sown seeds of avarice or ambition,
Blame me, ye great ones, (for I scorn your censure),
But let the generous and the good commend me;
That to my Delia I direct them all,
The worthiest object of a virtuous love.
Oh! to some distant scene, a willing exile
From the wild uproar of this busy world,
Were it my fate with Delia to retire;
With her to wander through the sylvan shade,
Each morn, or o'er the moss-embrowned turf,
Where, blessed as the prime parents of mankind
In their own Eden, we should envy none;
But, greatly pitying whom the world calls happy,
Gently spin out the silken thread of life;
While from her lips attentive I receive
The tenderest dictates of the purest flame,
And from her eyes (where soft complacence sits
Illumined with the radiant beams of sense),
Tranquility beyond a monarch's reach.
Forgive me, Heaven, this only avarice
My soul indulges; I confess the crime,
(If to esteem, to covet such perfection
Be criminal,) oh, grant me Delia! grant me wealth;
Wealth to alleviate, not increase my wants;
And grant me virtue, without which nor wealth
Nor Delia can avail to make me blessed.
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