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


The World at a Distance

By William Cowper (1731–1800)

(From The Task)

’T IS pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat,

To peep at such a world; to see the stir

Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd;

To hear the roar she sends through all her gates,

At a safe distance, where the dying sound

Falls a soft murmur on the uninjured ear.

Thus sitting and surveying thus at ease

The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced

To some secure and more than mortal height,

That liberates and exempts me from them all.

It turns submitted to my view, turns round

With all its generations; I behold

The tumult, and am still. The sound of war

Has lost its terrors ere it reaches me;

Grieves, but alarms me not. I mourn the pride

And avarice that make man a wolf to man,

Hear the faint echo of those brazen throats,

By which he speaks the language of his heart,

And sigh, but never tremble at the sound.

He travels and expatiates, as the bee

From flower to flower, so he from land to land:

The manners, customs, policy of all

Pay contribution to the store he gleans;

He sucks intelligence in every clime,

And spreads the honey of his deep research

At his return,—a rich repast for me.

He travels, and I too. I tread his deck,

Ascend his topmast, through his peering eyes

Discover countries, with a kindred heart

Suffer his woes, and share in his escapes;

While fancy, like the finger of a clock,

Runs the great circuit, and is still at home.