The Task, Book I, The Sofa [excerpt]
Peace to the artist, whose ingenious thought Devised the weather-house, that useful toy! Fearless of humid air and gathering rains Forth steps the man—an emblem of myself! More delicate his timorous mate retires. When Winter soaks the fields, and female feet, Too weak to struggle with tenacious clay, Or ford the rivulets, are best at home, The task of new discoveries falls on me. At such a season and with such a charge Once went I forth, and found, till then unknown, A cottage, whither oft we since repair: 'Tis perched upon the green hill-top, but close Environed with a ring of branching elms That overhang the thatch, itself unseen Peeps at the vale below; so thick beset With foliage of such dark redundant growth, I called the low-roofed lodge the peasant's nest. And hidden as it is, and far remote From such unpleasing sounds as haunt the ear In village or in town, the bay of curs Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels, And infants clamorous whether pleased or pained, Oft have I wished the peaceful covert mine. Here, I have said, at least I should possess The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure. Vain thought! the dweller in that still retreat Dearly obtains the refuge it affords. Its elevated site forbids the wretch To drink sweet waters of the crystal well; He dips his bowl into the weedy ditch, And heavy-laden brings his beverage home, Far-fetched and little worth: nor seldom waits Dependent on the baker's punctual call, To hear his creaking panniers at the door, Angry and sad and his last crust consumed. So farewell envy of the peasant's nest. If solitude make scant the means of life, Society for me! Thou seeming sweet, Be still a pleasing object in my view, My visit still, but never mine abode.
From The Task (1785) by William Cowper. This poem is in the public domain.
The first child of Reverend John Cowper and Ann Donne Cowper, Willam
Date Published: 1785-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/task-book-i-sofa-excerpt