Verses Written at Bath on Finding the Heel of a Shoe

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Written at Bath, on Finding the Heel of a Shoe
by William Cowper

Fortune! I thank thee: gentle Goddess! thanks!
Not that my muse, tho' bashful, shall deny
She would have thank'd thee rather, hadst thou cast
A treasure in her way; for neither meed
Of early breakfast, to dispel the fumes
And bowel-raking pains of emptiness,
Nor noontide feast, nor ev'ning's cool repast,
Hopes she from this, presumptuous, — tho', perhaps,
The cobbler, leather-carving artist, might!
Nathless she thanks thee, and accepts thy boon,
Whatever, not as erst the fabled cock,
Vain-glorious fool, unknowing what he found,
Spum'd the rich gem thou gavest him. Wherefore, ah!
Why not on me that favour, (worthier sure!)
Conferr'dst thou, Goddess? Thou art blind, thou say'st:
Enough! — thy blindness shall excuse the deed.
   Nor does my muse no benefit exhale
From this thy scant indulgence, — even here
Hints, worthy sage philosophy, are found;
Illustrious hints, to moralize my song!
This pond'rous Heel of perforated hide
Compact, with pegs indented, many a row,
Haply (for such its massy form bespeaks)
The weighty tread of some rude peasant clown
Upbore: on this supported oft he stretch'd,
With uncouth strides, along the furrow 'd glebe,
Flatt'ning the stubborn clod, till cruel time,
(What will not cruel time?) on a wry step,
Sever'd the strict cohesion; when, alas!
He, who could erst with even equal pace
Pursue his destin'd way with symmetry
And some proportion form'd, now, on one side,
Curtail'd and maim'd, the sport of vagrant boys,
Cursing his frail supporter, treachrous prop,
With toilsome steps, and difficult, moves on!
Thus fares it oft with other than the feet
Of humble villager: — the statesman thus,
Up the steep road, where proud ambition leads,
Aspiring, first uninterrupted winds
His prosp'rous way; nor fears miscarriage foul,
While policy prevails, and friends prove true:
But that support soon failing, by him left
On whom he most depended, basely left,
Betray'd, deserted, from his airy height
Headlong he falls; and thro' the rest of life
Drags the dull load of disappointment on.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.