William Cowper was a writer I greatly admire. The more I learn of him, the more my heart is filled with him. He lived from 1731-1800. He was a deeply sensitive man and had bouts with overwhelming depression. Once, at one of his lowest points, he hailed a cab in London and asked the driver to take him to London Bridge. It was foggy and the driver got lost, finally being only able to accomplish bringing William back to where he started. He refused payment, but William insisted saying, "If you had taken me where I had intended to go, I would have thrown myself from the bridge to my death." He then went inside and wrote these words:
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform.
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm!
These four small lines have encouraged me so very many times since I discovered them and I can only imagine how many I would have to multiply that by to show the lives that this man continues to touch. (In fact, I set the words to my own tune and taught them to my children.)
But on a lighter side...
"Cowper loved animals tenderly and understood them in a wonderful manner. He tamed some hares and made them famous in his verse. And when he felt madness coming upon him he often found relief in his interest in these pets. One of his poems tells how Cowper scolded his spaniel Beau for killing a little baby bird "not because you were hungry," says the poet, "but out of naughtiness." Here is Beau's reply—"
“Sir, when I flew to seize the bird
In spite of your command,
A louder voice than yours I heard,
And harder to withstand.
“You cried, ‘Forbear!’ – but in my breast
A mightier cried, “Proceed!’ –
‘Twas nature, sir, whose strong behest
Impelled me to the deed.
“Yet much as nature I respect,
I ventured once to break
(As you perhaps may recollect)
Her precept for your sake;
“As when your linnet on a day,
Passing his prison door,
Had fluttered all his strength away
And panting, pressed the floor,
“Well knowing him a sacred thing
Not destined to my tooth,
I only kissed his ruffled wing
And licked the feathers smooth.
“Let my obedience then excuse
My disobedience now,
Nor some reproof yourself refuse
From your aggrieved Bow-wow;
“If killing birds be such a crime
(Which I can hardly see),
What think you, sir, of killing Time
With verse addressed to me?”
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