William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper"; b. Berkampstead, Hertfordshire, England, 1731; d. East Dereham, Norfolk, England, 1800) is regarded as one of the best early Romantic poets. To biographers he is also known as "mad Cowper." His literary talents produced some of the finest English hymn texts, but his chronic depression accounts for the somber tone of many of those texts. Educated to become an attorney, Cowper was called to the bar in 1754 but never practiced law. In 1763 he had the opportunity to become a clerk for the House of Lords, but the dread of the required public examination triggered his tendency to depression, and he attempted suicide. His subsequent hospitalization and friendship with Morley and Mary Unwin provided emotional st… Go to person page >
O most delightful hour by man. W. Cowper. [Death and Burial.] These are the "Stanzas Subjoined to a Bill of Mortality for the Parish of All Saints, in the Town of Northampton, Anno Domini 1789," and subsequently published with Cowper's translations from the French of Madame Guion, as Poems Translated from the French of Madame de la Mothe Guion, &c, Newport-Pagnel, 1801, p. 122. There are 9 stanzas of 4 lines in all. Of these stanzas i.-iv. with alterations, were given in Martineau's Hymns, &c, 1840 and 1873, and also in a few American collections.