William Cowper Day

William Cowper was a nationally renowned and respected poet living in Olney, who changed how poetry was written and enjoyed during the 18th Century. 

To the Immortal Memory of the Halibut, on which I Dined This Day, Monday April 26, 1784

Where hast thou floated, in what seas pursu’d
Thy pastime? When wast thou an egg new-spawn’d,
Lost in the immensity of ocean’s waste?
Roar as they might, the overbearing winds
That rock’d the deep, thy cradle, thou wast safe—
And in thy minikin and embryo state,
Attach’d to the firm leaf of some salt weed,
Didst outlive tempests, such as wrung and rack’d
The joints of many a stout and gallant bark,
And whelm’d them in the unexplor’d abyss.
Indebted to no magnet and no chart,
Nor under guidance of the polar fire,
Thou wast a voyager on many coasts,
Grazing at large in meadows submarine,
Where flat Batavia just emerging peeps
Above the brine,—where Caledonia’s rocks
Beat back the surge,—and where Hibernia shoots
Her wondrous causeway far into the main.
—Wherever thou hast fed, thou little thought’st,
And I not more, that I should feed on thee.
Peace, therefore, and good health, and much good fish,
To him who sent thee! and success, as oft
As it descends into the billowy gulf,
To the same drag that caught thee!—Fare thee well!
Thy lot thy brethren of the slimy fin
Would envy, could they know that thou wast doom’d
To feed a bard, and to be prais’d in verse.


cowperandnewtonmuseum.org.uk/