Sonnet to William Wilberforce, Esq.

By William Cowper 1731–1800 William Cowper
   Thy country, Wilberforce, with just disdain,
Hears thee, by cruel men and impious, call'd
Fanatic, for thy zeal to loose th' enthrall'd
From exile, public sale, and slav'ry's chain.
Friend of the poor, the wrong'd, the fetter-gall'd,
Fear not lest labour such as thine be vain!
Thou hast achiev'd a part; hast gain'd the ear
Of Britain's senate to thy glorious cause;
Hope smiles, joy springs, and tho' cold caution pause
And weave delay, the better hour is near,
That shall remunerate thy toils severe
By peace for Afric, fenc'd with British laws.
      Enjoy what thou hast won, esteem and love
      From all the just on earth, and all the blest above!

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet William Cowper 1731–1800



Subjects History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Heroes & Patriotism

Poetic Terms Allusion, Sonnet

 William  Cowper


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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Heroes & Patriotism



Poetic Terms Allusion, Sonnet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.