The concept of home was much on Cowper’s mind throughout his career. Most conspicuous, perhaps, are the sections of The Task (1785) that mark him as the celebrant of domestic life, its pleasures and its virtues: Domestic happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise that has survived the fall! Though few now taste thee unimpair’d and
Journal Volume: 8
Given his reputation as the poet who celebrated domestic life, little affection for a specific home or homes emerges from Cowper’s poems or letters. Especially during the years shortly before and after his and Mrs Unwin’s removal from Olney to Weston, it is striking how he describes the time at Orchard Side – the place
PLEASE NOTE: this is a text only article. The full article is in ‘The Cowper & Newton Journal Volume 8: 2018 SPECIAL ISSUE: Cowper: Home and Away Guest editor: Katherine Turner The best-known passage from The Task, and one which established the image of Cowper as the home-loving poet of fireside retreat contemplating the world
I am a kind of human snail, locked in and condemned by my own nature. The antients believed that the moist track left by the snail as it crept was the snail’s own essence, depleting its body little by little; the farther the snail toiled, the smaller it became, until it finally rubbed itself out.
The doubling at work in William Cowper’s shorter poems, through which he projects elements of his own emotional and indeed authorial self onto the characters (sometimes human, sometimes animal) of his verse, has long been noted. For example, Vincent Newey has pointed us to the way in which this doubling is at play in the
In early December 1783, William Cowper wrote to John Newton (Anglican clergyman and Cowper’s collaborator on Olney Hymns) to share his thoughts about the recent air-balloon flights in France: My mind however is frequently getting into these Balloons, and is busy in multiplying speculations as airy as the regions through which they pass. The last
PLEASE NOTE: this is a text only article. The full article is in ‘The Cowper & Newton Journal Volume 8: 2018 SPECIAL ISSUE: Cowper: Home and Away Guest editor: Katherine Turner ‘How should I who have not journey’d 20 miles from home these 20 years, how should I possibly reach your country?’1 This was Cowper’s