A thought may occupy and haunt the mind

— Cowper, William (1731-1800)

Place of Publication
Joseph Johnson
A thought may occupy and haunt the mind
Metaphor in Context
Hail venerable guest! and be thy lot
Prosperous at least hereafter, who art held
At present, in the bonds of numerous ills.
Thou, Jupiter, of all the Gods, art most
Severe, and sparest not to inflict distress
Even on creatures from thyself derived.
I had no sooner mark'd thee, than my eyes
Swam, and the sweat gush'd from me at the thought
Of dear Ulysses; for if yet he live
And see the sun, such tatters, I suppose,
He wears, a wanderer among human-kind.
But if already with the dead he dwell
In Pluto's drear abode, oh then, alas
For kind Ulysses! who consign'd to me,
While yet a boy, his Cephalenian herds,
And they have now encreased to such a store
Innumerable of broad-fronted beeves,
As only care like mine could have produced.
These, by command of others, I transport
For their regale, who neither heed his son,
Nor tremble at the anger of the Gods,
But long have wish'd ardently to divide
And share the substance of our absent Lord.
Me therefore this thought occupies, and haunts
My mind not seldom
; while the heir survives
It were no small offence to drive his herds
Afar, and migrate to a foreign land;
Yet here to dwell, suffering oppressive wrongs
While I attend another's beeves, appears
Still less supportable; and I had fled,
And I had served some other mighty Chief
Long since, (for patience fails me to endure
My present lot,) but that I cherish still
Some hope of my ill-fated Lord's return,
To rid his palace of these lawless guests.
2 entries in ESTC (1791, 1792).

Text from The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, Translated Into English Blank Verse, by W. Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq., 2 vols. (London: Printed for J. Johnson, No 72, St. Paul’s Church-Yard, 1791). <Link to ESTC>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.