Home  »  The Book of Georgian Verse  »  William Cowper (1731–1800)

William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

The Dog and the Water-Lily

William Cowper (1731–1800)

THE NOON was shady, and soft airs

Swept Ouse’s silent tide,

When, ’scaped from literary cares,

I wander’d on his side.

My spaniel, prettiest of his race,

And high in pedigree,—

(Two nymphs adorn’d with every grace

That spaniel found for me,)

Now wanton’d, 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 display’d

His lilies newly blown;

Their beauties I intent survey’d,

And one I wish’d 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 mark’d my unsuccessful pains

With fix’d 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 follow’d long

The windings of the stream.

My ramble ended, I return’d;

Beau, trotting far before,

The floating wreath again discern’d,

And plunging left the shore.

I saw him with that lily cropp’d

Impatient swim to meet

My quick approach, and soon he dropp’d

The treasure at my feet.

Charm’d 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.’