William Cowper

The Dog and the Water Lily

THE NOON was shady, and soft airs
  Swept Ouse’s silent tide,
When, ’scaped from literary cares,
  I wandered on his side.

My spaniel, prettiest of his race,
  And high in pedigree
(Two nymphs adorned with every grace
  That spaniel found for me),

Now wantoned lost in flags and reeds,
  Now starting into sight,
Pursued the swallow o’er the meads
  With scarce a slower flight.

It was the time when Ouse displayed
  His lilies newly blown;
Their beauties I intent surveyed,
  And one I wished my own.

With cane extended far I sought
  To steer it close to land;
But still the prize, though nearly caught,
  Escaped my eager hand.

Beau marked my unsuccessful pains
  With fixed, considerate face,
And puzzling set his puppy brains
  To comprehend the case.

But with a cherup clear and strong
  Dispersing all his dream,
I thence withdrew, and followed long
  The windings of the stream.

My ramble ended, I returned;
  Beau, trotting far before,
The floating wreath again discerned,
  And plunging left the shore.

I saw him with that lily cropped
  Impatient swim to meet
My quick approach, and soon he dropped
  The treasure at my feet.

Charmed with the sight, “The world,” I cried,
  “Shall hear of this thy deed;
My dog shall mortify the pride
  Of man’s superior breed:

“But chief myself I will enjoin,
  Awake at duty’s call,
To show a love as prompt as thine
  To Him who gives me all.”

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