William Cowper

26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire

Upon A Venerable Rival

Full thirty frosts since thou wert young
Have chilled the withered grove,
Thou wretch! and hast thou lived so long,
Nor yet forgot to love?

Ye sages! spite of your pretences
To wisdom, you must own
Your folly frequently commences
When you acknowledge none.

Not that I deem it weak to love,
Or folly to admire;
But ah! the pangs we lovers prove
Far other years require.

Unheeded on the youthful brow
The beams of Phoebus play;
But unsupported age stoops low
Beneath the sultry ray.

For once, then, if untutored youth,
Youth unapproved by years,
May chance to deviate into truth,
When your experience errs;

For once attempt not to despise
What I esteem a rule:
Who early loves, though young, is wise,--
Who old, though gray, a fool.
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