Cowper

“Oh! mama, how spiritless, how tame was Edward’s manner in reading to us last night! … I could hardly keep my seat. To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!”

“He would certainly have done more justice to simple and elegant prose. I thought so at the time; but you would give him Cowper.”

“Nay, mama, if he is not to be animated by Cowper!” (Sense and Sensibility, 55)

Cowper. That’s, as I just found out, Coo-per, not Cow-per. It’s very difficult to re-learn the pronunciation of a word you’ve said a certain way for years. Coo. Coo-per. Cooper. Cowper. NO! Not cow. Coo. Cooooper. I can do this…

I also found out that Cooo-per wrote hymns; for example, “There is a fountain filled with blood”. And the one that starts “God moves in a mysterious way / his wonders to perform“; that has a neat story connected with it.

And then there’s “The Castaway“, the last stanza of which Emma Thompson used so brilliantly in the 1995 film version of S&S to illustrate the event quoted above. There’s Hugh Grant, “spiritlessly” reading the poem, and Kate Winslet being “driven wild” by it and demonstrating how it ought to be done properly, resulting in an excellent deer-in-the-headlights effect in dear Edward/Hugh. Thank you, Mr Cowper (Coooper).

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