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

The Rose

William Cowper (1731–1800)

THE ROSE had been washed, just washed in a shower,

Which Mary to Anna conveyed,

The plentiful moisture encumbered the flower,

And weighed down its beautiful head.

The cup was all filled, and the leaves were all wet,

And it seemed, to a fanciful view,

To weep for the buds it had left with regret

On the flourishing bush where it grew.

I hastily seized it, unfit as it was

For a nosegay, so dripping and drowned;

And swinging it rudely, too rudely, alas!

I snapped it—it fell to the ground.

‘And such,’ I exclaimed, ‘is the pitiless part

Some act by the delicate mind,

Regardless of wringing and breaking a heart

Already to sorrow resigned!

‘This elegant rose, had I shaken it less,

Might have bloomed with its owner awhile;

And the tear that is wiped with a little address

May be followed perhaps by a smile.’