Friday, September 14, 2007

William Cowper is pretty much the man

Hear the just law, the judgement of the skies!
He that hates truth shall be the dupe of lies.
And he that will be cheated to the last,
Delusions, strong as hell, shall bind him fast.
But if the wanderer his mistake discern,
Judge his own ways, and sigh for a return,
Bewildered once, must he bewail his loss
For ever and for ever? No - the Cross!
There and there only, (though the deist rave,
And atheist, if earth bear so base a slave)
There and there only, is the power to save.
There no delusive hope invites despair,
No mockery meets you, no deception there,
The spells and charms that blinded you before,
All vanish there, and fascinate no more.

I am no preacher, let this hint suffice,
The Cross once seen is death to every vice:
Else He that hung there suffered all his pain,
Bled, groaned, and agonized, and died in vain.

From William Cowper, The Progress of Error.

This is kind of what I tried to say with The Shape of Reality, but put far more eloquently


Anonymous said...

Short history of the poem:

In 1773, Cowper, now engaged to marry Mrs. Unwin, experienced a new attack of insanity, imagining not only that he was condemned to hell eternally, but that God was commanding him to make a sacrifice of his own life. This attack broke off the engagement, but Mary Unwin took care of him with great devotion, and after a year he began again to recover. In 1779, after [John] Newton [the ex slave trader] had left Olney to go to London, Cowper started to write further poetry. Mary Unwin, wanting to keep Cowper's mind occupied, suggested that he write on the subject of The Progress of Error, and after writing his satire of this name he wrote seven others. All of them were published in 1782 under the title Poems by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq.

Jane Austen magazine

Marcus said...

Thanks Paul, I was wondering if someone would bring up his insanity! I was aware of this, in fact it was his insanity and depression that initially drew me to him. My first encounter with William Cowper was through John Piper's biography over at Desiring God. (sorry I don't know how to put links in comments)