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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


On Visiting Cowper’s Garden and Summer-house at Olney

By Jane Taylor (1783–1824)

ARE these the trees? is this the place?

These roses, did they bloom for him?

Trod he these walks with thoughtful pace?

Passed he amid these borders trim?

Is this the bower?—a humble shed

Methinks it seems for such a guest!

Why rise not columns, dome-bespread,

By art’s elaborate fingers drest?

Art waits on wealth; there let her roam,—

Her fabrics rear, her temples gild;

But Genius, where he seeks a home,

Must send for Nature’s self to build.

This quiet garden’s humble bound,

This homely roof, this rustic fane,

With playful tendrils twining round,

And woodbines peeping at the pane;

That tranquil, tender sky of blue,

Where clouds of golden radiance skim,

Those ranging trees of varied hue,—

These were the sights that solaced him.

We stept within: at once on each

A feeling steals, so undefined;

In vain we seek to give it speech,—

’T is silent homage paid to mind.

They tell us here he thought and wrote,

On this low seat, reclining thus;

Ye garden breezes, as ye float

Why bear ye no such thoughts to us?

Perhaps the balmy air was fraught

With breath of heaven; or did he toil

In precious mines of sparkling thought

Concealed beneath the curious soil?

Did zephyrs bear on golden wings

Rich treasures from the honeyed dew?

Or are there here celestial springs

Of living waters, whence he drew?

And here he suffered!—this recess

Where even Nature failed to cheer,

Has witnessed oft his deep distress,

And precious drops have fallen here!

Here are no richly sculptured urns

The consecrated dust to cover;

But Nature smiles and weeps, by turns,

In memory of her fondest lover.