William Cowper

William Cowper (pronounced Cooper) (November 26, 1731 - April 25, 1800) was an English poet and hymnodist.

He was born in Great Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England.

William Cowper was one of the most popular poets of his time. He changed the direction of 18th-century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside.

He suffered from periods of severe depression, which caused him frequently to doubt his fervent evangelical Christianity, the source of his much-loved hymns - going so far once as to express his dismayed surprise at ever having written a particular hymn.

Cowper died in East Dereham, Norfolk.

  • Olney Hymns, 1779, in collaboration with John Newton
  • John Gilpin, 1782
  • The Task, 1785
  • Homer, 1791 (translation from the Greek)

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
-- Olney Hymns (1779) 'Light Shining out of Darkness'

Variety's the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavour.
-- The Task (1785) 'The Timepiece'

I am monarch of all I survey,
-- 'Verses Supposed to be Written by Alexander Selkirk' (1782)

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