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

Ouse, the River

The Dog and the Water Lily

By William Cowper (1731–1800)

THE NOON was shady, and soft airs

Swept Ouse’s silent tide,

When, ’scaped from literary cares,

I wandered on his side.

My spaniel, prettiest of his race,

And high in pedigree

(Two nymphs adorned with every grace

That spaniel found for me),

Now wantoned lost in flags and reeds,

Now starting into sight,

Pursued the swallow o’er the meads

With scarce a slower flight.

It was the time when Ouse displayed

His lilies newly blown;

Their beauties I intent surveyed,

And one I wished my own.

With cane extended far I sought

To steer it close to land;

But still the prize, though nearly caught,

Escaped my eager hand.

Beau marked my unsuccessful pains

With fixed, considerate face,

And puzzling set his puppy brains

To comprehend the case.

But with a cherup clear and strong

Dispersing all his dream,

I thence withdrew, and followed long

The windings of the stream.

My ramble ended, I returned;

Beau, trotting far before,

The floating wreath again discerned,

And plunging left the shore.

I saw him with that lily cropped

Impatient swim to meet

My quick approach, and soon he dropped

The treasure at my feet.

Charmed with the sight, “The world,” I cried,

“Shall hear of this thy deed;

My dog shall mortify the pride

Of man’s superior breed:

“But chief myself I will enjoin,

Awake at duty’s call,

To show a love as prompt as thine

To Him who gives me all.”