William Cowper

26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire

The Judgement Of The Poets

Two nymphs, both nearly of an age,
Of numerous charms possessed,
A warm dispute once chanced to wage,
Whose temper was the best.

The worth of each had been complete,
Had both alike been mild;
But one, although her smile was sweet,
Frowned oftener than she smiled.

And in her humour, when she frowned,
Would raise her voice and roar,
And shake with fury to the ground
The garland that she wore.

The other was of gentler cast,
From all such frenzy clear,
Her frowns were seldom known to last,
And never proved severe.

To poets of renown in song
The nymphs referred the cause,
Who, strange to tell, all judged it wrong,
And gave misplaced applause.

They gentle called, and kind and soft,
The flippant and the scold,
And though she changed her mood so oft,
That failing left untold.

No judges, sure, were e'er so mad,
Or so resolved to err,--
In short, the charms her sister had
They lavished all on her.

Then thus the God whom fondly they
Their great Inspirer call,
Was heard, one genial summer's day,
To reprimand them all.

'Since thus ye have combined,' he said,
'My favourite nymph to slight,
Adorning May, that peevish maid,
With June's undoubted right,

'The minx shall, for your folly's sake,
Still prove herself a shrew,
Shall make your scribbling fingers ache,
And pinch your noses blue.'
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