William Cowper

26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire

See Where The Thames, The Purest Stream

See where the Thames, the purest stream
That wavers to the noon-day beam,
Divides the vale below;
While like a vein of liquid ore
His waves enrich the happy shore,
Still shining as they flow.

Nor yet, my Delia, to the main
Runs the sweet tide without a stain
Unsullied as it seems;
Thy nymphs of many a sable flood
Deform with streaks of oozy mud
The bosom of the Thames.

Some idle rivulets, that feed
And suckle every noisome weed,
A sandy bottom boast;
For ever bright, for ever clear,
Tho trifling shallow rills appear
In their own channel lost.

Thus fares it with the human soul,
Where copious floods of passion roll,
By genuine love supplied;
Fair in itself the current shows,
But ah! a thousand anxious woes
Pollute the noble tide.

These are emotions known to few;
For where at most a vapoury dew
Surrounds the tranquil heart,
Then as the triflers never prove
The glad excess of real love,
They never prove the smart.

O then my life, at last relent!
Though cruel the reproach I sent,
My sorrow was unfeigned:
Your passion, had I loved you not,
You might have scorned, renounced, forgot,
And I had ne'er complained.

While you indulge a groundless fear,
The imaginary woes you bear
Are real woes to me:
But thou art kind, and good thou art,
Nor wilt, by wronging thine own heart,
Unjustly punish me.

How blessed the youth whom fate ordains
A kind relief from all his pains,
In some admired fair;
Whose tenderest wishes find expressed
Their own resemblance in her breast,
Exactly copied there!

What good soe'er the gods dispense,
The enjoyment of its influence
Still on her love depends;
Her love the shield that guards his heart,
Or wards the blow, or blunts the dart
That peevish fortune sends.

Thus, Delia, while thy love endures,
The flame my happy breast secures
From fortune's fickle power;
Change as she list, she may increase,
But not abate my happiness,
Confirmed by thee before.

Thus while I share her smiles with thee,
Welcome, my love, shall ever be
The favours she bestows;
Yet not on those I found my bliss,
But in the noble ecstasies
The faithful bosom knows.

And when she prunes her wings for flight,
And flutters nimbly from my sight,
Contented I resign
Whate'er she gave; thy love alone
I can securely call my own,
Happy while that is mine.
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