William Cowper

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Verses, supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk, during his solitary Abode in the Island of Juan Fernandez

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Poems

    1.
    I am monarch of all I survey,
    My right there is none to dispute,
    From the centre all round to the sea,
    I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
    Oh solitude! Where are the charms
    That sages have seen in thy face?
    Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
    Than reign in this horrible place.
   
    2.
    I am out of humanity's reach,
    I must finish my journey alone,
    Never hear the sweet music of speech,
    I start at the sound of my own.
    The beasts that roam over the plain,
    My form with indifference see,
    They are so unacquainted with man,
    Their tameness is shocking to me.
   
    3.
    Society, friendship, and love,
    Divinely bestow'd upon man,
    Oh had I the wings of a dove,
    How soon wou'd I taste you again!
    My sorrows I then might assuage
    In the ways of religion and truth,
    Might learn from the wisdom of age,
    And be cheer'd by the sallies of youth.
   
    4.
    Religion! what treasure untold
    Resides in that heav'nly word!
    More precious than silver and gold,
    Or all that this earth can afford.
    But the sound of the church going bell
    These vallies and rocks never heard,
    Ne'er sigh'd at the sound of a knell,
    Or smil'd when a sabbath appear'd.
   
    5.
    Ye winds that have made me your sport,
    Convey to this desolate shore,
    Some cordial endearing report
    Of a land I shall visit no more.
    My friends do they now and then send
    A wish or a thought after me?
    O tell me I have yet a friend,
    Though a friend I am never to see.
   
    6.
    How fleet is a glance of the mind!
    Compar'd with the speed of its flight,
    The tempest itself lags behind,
    And the swift winged arrows of light.
    When I think of my own native land,
    In a moment I seem to be there;
    But alas! recollection at hand
    Soon hurries me back to despair.
   
    7.
    But the sea fowl is gone to her nest,
    The beast is laid in his lair,
    Ev'n here is a season of rest,
    And I to my cabbin repair.
    There is mercy in ev'ry place,
    And mercy, encouraging thought!
    Gives even affliction a grace,
    And reconciles man to his lot.
   
   
   
   

First published 1782.

Contributed by Robert Clark.