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

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

To Mary

William Cowper (1731–1800)

THE TWENTIETH year is well-nigh past,

Since first our sky was overcast;

Ah, would that this might be the last!

My Mary!

Thy spirits have a fainter flow,

I see thee daily weaker grow;

’Twas my distress that brought thee low.

My Mary!

Thy needles, once a shining store,

For my sake restless heretofore,

Now rust disused, and shine no more,

My Mary!

For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil

The same kind office for me still,

Thy sight now seconds not thy will,

My Mary!

But well thou playedst the housewife’s part,

And all thy threads with magic art

Have wound themselves about this heart,

My Mary!

Thy indistinct expressions seem

Like language uttered in a dream;

Yet me they charm, whate’er the theme,

My Mary!

Thy silver locks, once auburn bright,

Are still more lovely in my sight

Than golden beams of orient light,

My Mary!

For, could I view nor them nor thee,

What sight worth seeing could I see?

The sun would rise in vain for me,

My Mary!

Partakers of thy sad decline,

Thy hands their little force resign;

Yet, gently prest, press gently mine,

My Mary!

Such feebleness of limbs thou provest,

That now at every step thou movest

Upheld by two, yet still thou lovest,

My Mary!

And still to love, though prest with ill,

In wintry age to feel no chill,

With me is to be lovely still,

My Mary!

But ah! by constant heed I know,

How oft the sadness that I show

Transforms thy smiles to looks of woe,

My Mary!

And should my future lot be cast

With much resemblance of the past,

Thy worn-out heart will break at last,

My Mary!