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Anthology of Poetry - 18th/early 19th Centuries

William SHENSTONE (1714-1763)


I have found out a gift for my fair,
I have found where the wood-pigeons breed:
But let me that plunder forbear,
She will say 'twas a barbarous deed.
For he ne'er could be true, she averr'd,
Who could rob a poor bird of its young:
And I loved her the more when I heard
Such tenderness fall from her tongue.

William COWPER (1731-1800)

from 'The Task'

I would not enter upon my list of friends,
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.
An inadvertant step may crush the snail,
That crawls at evening in the public path,
But he has the humanity, forewarned,
Will tread aside, and let the reptile live.

Anna Letitia BARBAULD (1743-1825)

from 'The Mouse's Petition'

The well-taught philosophic mind
To all compassion gives;
Casts round the world an equal eye,
And feels for all that lives.

William BLAKE (1757-1828)

A dog starved

A dog starved at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Fly

Little fly,
Thy summer's play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance,
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breadth;
And the want
Of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live
Or if I die.

Thomas GISBORNE (1758-1846)

from 'The Worm'

Let them enjoy their little day,
Their humble bliss receive;
O, do not lightly take away,
The life thou canst not give.

Robert BURNS (1759-1796)

from 'On Scaring Some Water Fowl'

The eagle from the cliffy brow,
Marking you his prey below,
In his breast no pity dwells,
Strong necessity compels:
But man, to whom alone is giv'n,
A ray direct from pitying Heav'n
Glories in his heart humane -
And creatures for his pleasure slain!

William WORDSWORTH (1770-1850)


... If Power could live at ease with self-restraint!...
Then would ...
Love ebb and flow untroubled by caprice;
And not alone harsh tyranny would cease.
But unoffending creatures find release
From 'qualified' oppression, whose defence
Rests on a hollow plea of recompense.

Samuel Taylor COLERIDGE (1772-1834)

from 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

Lord (George Gordon) BYRON (1788-1824)

Percy Bysshe SHELLEY (1792-1822)

William Cullen BRYANT (1794-1878)

Loveliest of lovely things are they
On earth, that soonest pass away.
The rose that lives its little hour
Is prized beyond the sculptured flower.


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