Poesie: Cowper’s Poplar Field

Trees aren’t just still standing timber. Not even poplars.

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The Poplar Field

The poplars are felled, farewell to the shade
And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade:
The winds play no longer and sing in the leaves,
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives.

Twelve years have elapsed since I first took a view
Of my favourite field, and the bank where they grew,
And now in the grass behold they are laid,
And the tree is my seat that once lent me a shade.

The blackbird has fled to another retreat
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat;
And the scene where his melody charmed me before
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more.

My fugitive years are all hasting away,
And I must ere long lie as lowly as they,
With a turf on my breast and a stone at my head,
Ere another such grove shall arise in its stead.

‘Tis a sight to engage me, if anything can,
To muse on the perishing pleasures of man;
Short-lived as we are, our enjoyments, I see,
Have a still shorter date, and die sooner than we.

~ William Cowper

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William Cowper (26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800) was an English poet and hymnodist. Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside, thus becoming one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry.  He was one of the most popular poets of his time.

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