Friday, April 10, 2015

Mad Poets

Epitaph on a Hare
by William Cowper (d. April 25, 1800)

Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
Nor swifter greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,
Nor ear heard huntsman's hallo',

Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
Who nursed with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confined,
Was still a wild jack-hare.

Though duly from my hand he took
His pittance every night,
He did it with a jealous look,
And, when he could, would bite.

His diet was of wheaten bread,
And milk and oats, and straw,
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.

On twigs of hawthorn he regaled,
On pippins' russet peel,
And when his juicy salads failed,
Sliced carrot pleased him well.

His frisking was at evening hours,
for then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching showers,
Or when a storm drew near.

Eight years and five round-rolling moons
He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out all his idle noons,
And every night at play.

I kept him for his humor's sake,
For he would oft beguile,
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,
And force me to a smile.

But now, beneath his walnut-shade
he finds his long, last home,
And waits in snug concealment laid,
Till Gentler Puss shall come.

He, still more aged, feels the shocks
From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney's box,
Must soon partake his grave.

Cowper, who penned the above, oddly affecting, lines, was a mad poet. His more famous lines are:

God works in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform.
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Cowper spent much of his life in a madhouse. In or out, he received the attentive care another famous English hymnist, who was moreover a former captain of slave ships, John Newton. Newton wrote perhaps the most well-known hymn of all, Amazing Grace.

Cowper's sad illness manifested itself in the conviction that he was damned to Hell. He was thus tormented to his last breath.

Old Tiney reminds the Bear of his smallest Yorkie, Dahlia, who is so ill-tempered as to beg for a helping hand to the couch only to repay the kindness by biting the very hand.

As readers will know, the Bear announced his lack of attention to his blog through Lent. And he believes he received some benefit thereby, and at little loss to Catholic journalism. It is to be hoped by one beast, at least (that being the author) that this blog will soon be again a lively place of camaraderie and overall bearishness.

Your Friend,
The Bear


  1. Welcome back, Bear. You've been missed! The woodland creatures are dancing a jig!

  2. I have checked every day since finding your blog a few weeks ago for more comments. I do look forward to more postings! Our culture here in the U.S. is becoming more and more violent, bullying, homo-fascist. I think these things are related. The bishops, with a few exceptions, are sniveling cowards so we don't have much leadership. Francis gives me heartburn. What will the Year of Mercy promote? And the upcoming Synod? Is there a war going on for the soul of the Church? Are bishops who promote gay sex and abortion possessed? The Latin Mass is slowly growing and there are a few more seminarians--hopeful signs. But many of the faithful (I generally mean those who still attend Sunday Mass sometimes) are confused by all the mixed signals. Here in New York, a seminarian who wanted to say his first Mass in Latin was told by the cardinal that he would not be ordained if he insisted. !!! Help!

  3. Welcome back. Clerical bears missed you.


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