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Lot 53
COWPER, WILLIAM (1731-1800, poet)
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Lot Details
COWPER, WILLIAM (1731-1800, poet)
AUTOGRAPH DRAFT OF HIS TRANSLATION OF 'THE ACQUIESCENCE OF PURE LOVE' FROM THE POEMS OF MADAME DE LA MOTTE GUYON, 20 lines in five four-line stanzas with autograph revisions rewriting parts of six lines, 1 page, quarto, trimmed at the head, Cowper's name written in pencil and subsequently inked over in another hand in an otherwise blank area at the foot, undated [but 1782]


  • Love! if thy destined sacrifice am I,
    Come, slay thy victim and prepare thy fires
    Plunged in thy depths of mercy let me die
    The death which every soul that lives desires...

    Cowper translated the works of Madame Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte Guyon, the pupil of the French Quietist Fenelon, at the suggestion in 1782 of his friend The Rev. William Bull, Independent Minister at Newport Pagnell. Cowper considered her verse to be the best French work he had ever read. George Ella states: 'In essence Cowper's translation is a re-creation and evangelicalization of Mme Guyon's theology, but much of her fervent passion and spiritual insight has been retained.' (William Cowper, 1993, p. 333). Bull published Cowper's translation a year after the poet's death.

    This final draft contains in the revisions the final version of the text and preserves in the deleted sections readings Cowper discarded. The poem is complete in itself (it is a complete and separate poem by Madame Guyon) and was published under the title 'The Acquiescence of Pure Love'. Cowper translated forty of her poems.
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