Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To Mary

Written in the Autumn of  1793

The twenieth year is well-nigh past
Since first our sky was overcast;
Ah, would that this might be the last!
My Mary!

Thy spirits have a fainter flow,
I see thee daily weaker grow;
'Twas my distress that brought thee low,
My Mary!

Thy needles, once a shining store,
For my sake restless heretofore,
Now rust disused, and shine no more,
My Mary!

For though thou gladly wouldst fulfil
The same kind office for me still,
Thy sight now seconds not thy will,
My Mary!

But well thou play'dst the housewife's part;
And all thy threads, with magic art,
Have wound themselves about this heart,
My Mary!
- William Cowper Compendium p. 745
When you think of Mary Unwin, and her long suffering and care of Mr. Cowper - they were unable to marry because of his second bout with depression in 1773, it is quite incredible that he was a house guest for nigh 30 years. Of the Unwin household Cowper said, "they are the most agreable people imaginable; quite socialable, and free from the ceremonious civility of country gentlefolds as any I ever met with.  They treat me more like a near relation that a stranger, and their house is always open to me."  And so it was.  Don't you love the phrase "free from ceremonious civility" - a nice picture of hospitality me thinks!

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