The Dog and the Water Lily

William Cowper

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."

Main Location:

River Ouse