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William Cowper

(26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire)

A Figurative Description Of The Procedure Of Divine Love


'Twas my purpose, on a day,
To embark, and sail away.
As I climbed the vessel's side,
Love was sporting in the tide;
'Come,' he said, 'ascend—make haste,
Launch into the boundless waste.'

Many mariners were there,
Having each his separate care;
They that rowed us held their eyes
Fixed upon the starry skies;
Others steered, or turned the sails,
To receive the shifting gales.

Love, with power divine supplied,
Suddenly my courage tried;
In a moment it was night,
Ship and skies were out of sight;
On the briny wave I lay,
Floating rushes all my stay.

Did I with resentment burn
At this unexpected turn?
Did I wish myself on shore,
Never to forsake it more?
No--'My soul,' I cried, 'be still;
If I must be lost, I will.'

Next he hastened to convey
Both my frail supports away;
Seized my rushes; bade the waves
Yawn into a thousand graves:
Down I went, and sunk as lead,
Ocean closing o'er my head.

Still, however, life was safe;
And I saw him turn and laugh:
'Friend,' he cried, 'adieu! lie low,
While the wintry storms shall blow;
When the spring has calmed the main,
You shall rise and float again.'

Soon I saw him, with dismay,
Spread his plumes, and soar away;
Now I mark his rapid flight;
Now he leaves my aching sight;
He is gone whom I adore,
'Tis in vain to seek him more.

How I trembled then and feared,
When my love had disappeared!
'Wilt thou leave me thus,' I cried,
'Whelmed beneath the rolling tide?'
Vain attempt to reach his ear!
Love was gone, and would not hear.

Ah! return, and love me still;
See me subject to thy will;
Frown with wrath, or smile with grace,
Only let me see thy face!
Evil I have none to fear,
All is good, if thou art near.

Yet he leaves me--cruel fate!
Leaves me in my lost estate--
Have I sinned? Oh, say wherein;
Tell me, and forgive my sin!
King, and Lord, whom I adore,
Shall I see thy face no more?

Be not angry; I resign,
Henceforth, all my will to thine:
I consent that thou depart,
Though thine absence breaks my heart;
Go then, and for ever too:
All is right that thou wilt do.

This was just what Love intended;
He was now no more offended;
Soon as I became a child,
Love returned to me and smiled:
Never strife shall more betide
'Twixt the bridegroom and his bride.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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