God Made the Country -

God made the country, and man made the town.
What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts
That can alone make sweet the bitter draught
That life holds out to all, should most abound
And least be threaten'd in the fields and groves?
Possess ye, therefore, ye, who, borne about
In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue
But that of idleness, and taste no scenes
But such as art contrives, possess ye still
Your element; there only can ye shine;
There only mind's like yours can do no harm.
Our groves were planted to console at noon
The pensive wanderer in their shades. At eve
The moonbeam, sliding softly in between
The sleeping leaves, is all the light they wish,
Birds warbling all the music. We can spare
The splendour of your lamps; they but eclipse
Our softer satellite. Your songs confound
Our more harmonious notes: the thrush departs
Scar'd, and th' offended nightingale is mute.
There is a public mischief in your mirth;
It plagues your country. Folly such as yours,
Grac'd with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
Has made, which enemies could ne'er have done,
Our arch of empire, steadfast but for you,
A multilated structure, soon to fall.
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Hnnhbiie30's picture

"God Made the Country" by William Cowper - A Poetic Ode to Nature's Simplicity

William Cowper's poem "God Made the Country" celebrates the beauty and virtue found in the simplicity of rural life, contrasting it with the artificiality and corruption of urban society. Through vivid imagery and impassioned language, Cowper extols the virtues of nature while lamenting the detrimental effects of city life on society.
The poem opens with a bold assertion: "God made the country, and man made the town." This succinct statement encapsulates the central theme of the poem - the inherent superiority of the natural world over the artificial constructs of human civilization. Cowper suggests that the countryside, with its fields and groves, is where true health and virtue thrive, far from the corruption and vice of urban environments.
Cowper contrasts the idyllic tranquility of rural life with the artificiality and excesses of city living. He admonishes those who are "borne about in chariots and sedans," living lives of leisure and luxury, to stay within their element. In the countryside, he argues, their superficial pursuits and idle indulgences are out of place, overshadowing the natural beauty and serenity of the landscape.
The poet paints a vivid picture of the countryside as a place of solace and peace, where pensive wanderers find comfort in the shade of groves and the gentle melodies of birdsong. He describes how the moonbeam softly illuminates the sleeping leaves, providing just enough light for reflection and contemplation. In contrast, the artificial light and noise of the city disrupt this tranquility, overwhelming the senses and disturbing the natural harmony of the environment.
Cowper's criticism of urban society extends beyond mere aesthetic concerns. He suggests that the excesses and follies of city life have far-reaching consequences, undermining the stability and integrity of the nation. He warns that the "public mischief" caused by the indulgent mirth and frivolity of city dwellers threatens to weaken the very foundations of society, leading to its eventual downfall.
In conclusion, "God Made the Country" by William Cowper is a stirring ode to the beauty and virtue of rural life, juxtaposed with the artificiality and corruption of urban society. Through his eloquent verses, Cowper invites readers to reflect on the timeless truths found in nature's simplicity, while cautioning against the perils of excess and indulgence. The poem serves as a timeless reminder of the enduring value of the countryside and the need to preserve its sanctity in an ever-changing world.

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