The Shrubbery

By William Cowper 1731–1800 William Cowper
   Oh happy shades—to me unblest!
      Friendly to peace, but not to me!
How ill the scene that offers rest,
      And heart that cannot rest, agree!

   This glassy stream, that spreading pine,
      Those alders quiv'ring to the breeze,
Might sooth a soul less hurt than mine,
      And please, if any thing could please.

   But fix'd unalterable care
      Foregoes not what she feels within,
Shows the same sadness ev'rywhere,
      And slights the season and the scene.

   For all that pleas'd in wood or lawn,
      While peace possess'd these silent bow'rs,
Her animating smile withdrawn,
      Has lost its beauties and its pow'rs.

   The saint or moralist should tread
      This moss-grown alley, musing, slow;
They seek, like me, the secret shade,
      But not, like me, to nourish woe!

   Me fruitful scenes and prospects waste
      Alike admonish not to roam;
These tell me of enjoyments past,
      And those of sorrows yet to come.

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Poet William Cowper 1731–1800

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Augustan

Subjects Living, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Disappointment & Failure, Trees & Flowers, Sorrow & Grieving

Poetic Terms Imagery, Rhymed Stanza

 William  Cowper

Biography

William Cowper was the foremost poet of the generation between Alexander Pope and William Wordsworth and for several decades had probably the largest readership of any English poet. From 1782, when his first major volume appeared, to 1837, the year in which Robert Southey completed the monumental Life and Works of Cowper, more than a hundred editions of his poems were published in Britain and almost fifty in America.

Cowper's . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Disappointment & Failure, Trees & Flowers, Sorrow & Grieving

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Augustan

Poetic Terms Imagery, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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