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Alexander Selkirk

From The Birmingham Age-Herald, May 26, 1913.
By William Cowper.

Alexander Selkirk, the Scottish sailor, was the prototype of the marooned traveler in Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe (1719).

I am a monarch of all I survey,
     My right there is none to dispute.
 From the center 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 men,
     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 a 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?
 O tell me I yet have a friend,
     Though a friend I am never to see.
 How fleet is the glance of a mind!
     Compared with the speed of its flight,
 The tempest itself lags behind;
     And the swift-winged 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 is 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.

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