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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Imaginary Verses of Alexander Selkirk

By William Cowper (1731–1800)

During his Solitary Abode on Juan Fernandez

I AM monarch of all I survey—

My right there is none to dispute;

From the centre all round to the sea,

I am lord of the fowl and the brute.

O Solitude! where are the charms

That sages have seen in thy face?

Better dwell in the midst of alarms

Than reign in this horrible place.

I am out of humanity’s reach;

I must finish my journey alone,

Never hear the sweet music of speech—

I start at the sound of my own.

The beasts that roam over the plain

My form with indifference see;

They are so unacquainted with man,

Their tameness is shocking to me.

Society, friendship, and love,

Divinely bestowed upon man!

O, had I the wings of a dove,

How soon would I taste you again!

My sorrows I then might assuage

In the ways of religion and truth—

Might learn from the wisdom of age,

And be cheered by the sallies of youth.

Religion! What treasure untold

Resides in that heavenly word!—

More precious than silver and gold,

Or all that this earth can afford;

But the sound of the church-going bell

These valleys and rocks never heard,

Never sighed at the sound of a knell,

Or smiled when the Sabbath appeared.

Ye winds that have made me your sport,

Convey to this desolate shore

Some cordial endearing report

Of a land I shall visit no more!

My friends—do they now and then send

A wish or a thought after me?

Oh tell me I yet have a friend,

Though a friend I am never to see.

How fleet is the glance of the mind!

Compared with the speed of its flight,

The tempest itself lags behind,

And the swift-wingèd arrows of light.

When I think of my own native land,

In a moment I seem to be there;

But alas! recollection at hand

Soon hurries me back to despair.

But the sea-fowl has gone to her nest,

The beast is laid down in his lair;

Even here is a season of rest,

And I to my cabin repair.

There’s mercy in every place,

And mercy—encouraging thought!

Gives even affliction a grace,

And reconciles man to his lot.