William Cowper's Animal Poems

Cowper, William, 1731-1800 :  EPITAPH ON A HitHAREView next hit. [from The Works (1835-1837)]

1   Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
2      Nor swifter greyhound follow,
3   Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,
4      Nor ear heard huntsman's halloo;

5   Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
6      Who, nursed with tender care,
7   And to domestic bounds confined,
8      Was still a wild Jack View previous hitHithare.

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9   Though duly from my hand he took
10      His pittance every night,
11   He did it with a jealous look,
12      And, when he could, would bite.

13   His diet was of wheaten bread,
14      And milk, and oats, and straw;
15   Thistles, or lettuces instead,
16      With sand to scour his maw.

17   On twigs of hawthorn he regaled,
18      On pippins' russet peel,
19   And, when his juicy salads fail'd,
20      Sliced carrot pleased him well.

21   A Turkey carpet was his lawn,
22      Whereon he loved to bound,
23   To skip and gambol like a fawn,
24      And swing his rump around.

25   His frisking was at evening hours,
26      For then he lost his fear,
27   But most before approaching showers,
28      Or when a storm drew near.

29   Eight years and five round rolling moons
30      He thus saw steal away,
31   Dozing out all his idle noons,
32      And every night at play.

33   I kept him for his humour's sake,
34      For he would oft beguile
35   My heart of thoughts that made it ache,
36      And force me to a smile.

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37   But now beneath his walnut shade
38      He finds his long last home,
39   And waits, in snug concealment laid,
40      Till gentler Puss shall come.

41   He, still more aged, feels the shocks
42      From which no care can save,
43   And, partner once of Tiney's box,
44      Must soon partake his grave.

Cowper, William, 1731-1800 :  ON A HitGOLDFINCH STARVED TO DEATH IN HIS CAGE. [from The Works (1835-1837)]

1   Time was when I was free as air,
2   The thistle's downy seed my fare,
3      My drink the morning dew;
4   I perch'd at will on every spray,
5   My form genteel, my plumage gay,
6      My strains for ever new.

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7   But gaudy plumage, sprightly strain,
8   And form genteel were all in vain
9      And of a transient date,
10   For caught and caged and starved to death,
11   In dying sighs my little breath
12      Soon pass'd the wiry grate.

13   Thanks, gentle swain, for all my woes,
14   And thanks for this effectual close,
15      And cure of every ill!
16   More cruelty could none express,
17   And I, if you had shown me less,
18      Had been your prisoner still.

Cowper, William, 1731-1800 :  TO THE IMMORTAL MEMORY OF THE HitHALIBUT, ON WHICH I DINED THIS DAY, MONDAY, APRIL 26, 1784. [from The Works (1835-1837)]

1   Where hast thou floated, in what seas pursued
2   Thy pastime? When wast thou an egg new spawn'd,
3   Lost in the immensity of ocean's waste?
4   Roar as they might, the overbearing winds
5   That rock'd the deep, thy cradle, thou wast safe---
6   And in thy minikin and embryo state,
7   Attach'd to the firm leaf of some salt weed,
8   Didst outlive tempests, such as wrung and rack'd
9   The joints of many a stout and gallant bark,
10   And whelm'd them in the unexplored abyss.
11   Indebted to no magnet and no chart,
12   Nor under guidance of the polar fire,
13   Thou wast a voyager on many coasts,
14   Grazing at large in meadows submarine,
15   Where flat Batavia just emerging peeps
16   Above the brine,---where Caledonia's rocks
17   Beat back the surge,---and where Hibernia shoots
18   Her wondrous causeway far into the main.
19   ---Wherever thou hast fed, thou little thought'st,
20   And I not more, that I should feed on thee.
21   Peace, therefore, and good health, and much good fish,
22   To him who sent thee! and success, as oft
23   As it descends into the billowy gulf,
24   To the same drag that caught thee!---Fare thee well!
25   Thy lot thy brethren of the slimy fin
26   Would envy, could they know that thou wast doom'd
27   To feed a bard, and to be praised in verse.