Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extracts from the Task: England
By William Cowper (1731–1800)
 
[From Book II, The Timepiece]

  ENGLAND, with all thy faults, I love thee still,
My country! and, while yet a nook is left
Where English minds and manners may be found,
Shall be constrained to love thee. Though thy clime
Be fickle, and thy year, most part, deformed        5
With dripping rains, or withered by a frost,
I would not yet exchange thy sullen skies
And fields without a flower, for warmer France
With all her vines; nor for Ausonia’s groves
Of golden fruitage, and her myrtle bowers.        10
To shake thy senate, and from heights sublime
Of patriot eloquence to flash down fire
Upon thy foes, was never meant my task;
But I can feel thy fortunes, and partake
Thy joys and sorrows with as true a heart        15
As any thunderer there. And I can feel
Thy follies too, and with a just disdain
Frown at effeminates, whose very looks
Reflect dishonour on the land I love.
How, in the name of soldiership and sense,        20
Should England prosper, when such things, as smooth
And tender as a girl, all-essenced o’er
With odours, and as profligate as sweet,
Who sell their laurel for a myrtle wreath,
And love when they should fight,—when such as these        25
Presume to lay their hand upon the ark
Of her magnificent and awful cause?
Time was when it was praise and boast enough
In every clime, and travel where we might,
That we were born her children; praise enough        30
To fill the ambition of a private man,
That Chatham’s language was his mother tongue,
And Wolfe’s great name compatriot with his own.
Farewell those honours, and farewell with them
The hope of such hereafter! They have fallen        35
Each in his field of glory: one in arms,
And one in council—Wolfe upon the lap
Of smiling Victory that moment won,
And Chatham, heart-sick of his country’s shame!
They made us many soldiers. Chatham still        40
Consulting England’s happiness at home,
Secured it by an unforgiving frown
If any wronged her. Wolfe, where’er he fought,
Put so much of his heart into his act,
That his example had a magnet’s force,        45
And all were swift to follow whom all loved.
Those suns are set. Oh, rise some other such!
Or all that we have left is empty talk
Of old achievements, and despair of new.
 
 
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