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Poem by William Cowper


Report of an Adjudged Case


Between Nose and Eyes a strange contest arose,
The spectacles set them unhappily wrong;
The point in dispute was, as all the world knows,
To which the said spectacles ought to belong.

So the Tongue was the Lawyer and argued the cause
With a great deal of skill, and a wig full of learning,
While chief baron Ear sat to balance the laws,
So famed for his talent in nicely discerning.

In behalf of the Nose, it will quickly appear,
And your lordship, he said, will undoubtedly find,
That the Nose has had spectacles always in wear,
Which amounts to possession time out of mind.

Then holding the spectacles up to the court, -
Your lordship observes they are made with a straddle,
As wide as the ridge of the Nose is, in short,
Designed to sit close to it, just like a saddle.

Again, would your lordship a moment suppose
('Tis a case that has happened and may be again),
That the visage or countenance had not a Nose,
Pray who would or who could wear spectacles then?

On the whole it appears, and my argument shows
With a reasoning the court will never condemn,
That the spectacles plainly were made for the Nose,
And the Nose was as plainly intended for them.

Then shifting his side, as a lawyer knows how,
He pleaded again in behalf of the Eyes,
But what were his arguments few people know,
For the court did not think they were equally wise.

So his lordship decreed, with a grave solemn tone,
Decisive and clear, without on if or but, -
That whenever the Nose put his spectacles on,
By daylight or candlelight - Eyes should be shut.



William Cowper


William Cowper's other poems:
  1. To The Rev. Mr. Newton
  2. The Dog and the Water Lily
  3. The Diverting History of John Gilpin
  4. The New Convert
  5. A Figurative Description of the Procedure of Divine Love


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