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WILLIAM COWPER

1731-1800

484                                            To Mary Unwin

MARY! I want a lyre with other strings,
Such aid from Heaven as some have feignd they drew,
An eloquence scarce given to mortals, new
And undebased by praise of meaner things;
That ere through age or woe I shed my wings,
I may record thy worth with honour due,
In verse as musical as thou art true,
And that immortalizes whom it sings:
But thou hast little need. There is a Book
By seraphs writ with beams of heavenly light,
On which the eyes of God not rerely look,
A chronicle of actions just and bright
There all thy deeds, my faithful Mary, shine;
And since thou ownst that praise, I spare thee mine.

485                                               My Mary

THE twentieth year is wellnigh past
Since first our sky was overcast;
Ah, would that this might be the last!
                                              My Mary!
Thy spirits have a fainter flow,
I see thee daily weaker grow;
Twas my distress that brought thee low,
                                               My Mary!
Thy needles, once a shining store,
For my sake restless heretofore,
Now rust disused, and shine no more;
                                              My Mary!
For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil
The same kind office for me still,
Thy sight now seconds not thy will,
                                              My Mary!
But well thou playdst the housewifes part,
And all thy threads with magic art
Have wound themselves about this heart,
                                              My Mary!
Thy indistinct expressions seem
Like language utterd in a dream;
Yet me they charm, whateer the theme,
                                          My Mary!
Thy silver locks, once auburn bright,
Are still more lovely in my sight
Than golden beams of orient light,
                                              My Mary!
For could I view nor them nor thee,
What sight worth seeing could I see?
The sun would rise in vain for me,
                                              My Mary!
Partakers of thy sad decline,
Thy hands their little force resign;
Yet, gently pressd, press gently mine,
                                              My Mary!
Such feebleness of limbs thou provst,
That now at every step thou movst
Upheld by two; yet still thou lovst,
                                              My Mary!
And still to love, though pressd with ill,
In wintry age to feel no chill,
With me is to be lovely still,
                                              My Mary!
But ah! by constant heed I know
How oft the sadness that I show
Transforms thy smiles to looks of woe,
                                              My Mary!

And should my future lot be cast
With much resemblance of the past,
Thy worn-out heart will break at last
                                              My Mary!

 

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