Comparison between Cowper’s life and the poem “Castaway”

8 Mar

William Cowper was a poet whose poetry focused on everyday life and romance. He believed in evangelicalism which coerced him to love hymns. One of his friends was John Newton who influenced him to write poetry based on hymns. At one moment in his life, he was insane and tried to commit suicide three times but was unsuccessful. After the recovery, Cowper married Mary Unwill and lived with her family. Shortly afterwards, Cowper was insane again and realized that he was condemned to hell and felt that he had to sacrifice his life for God. But he was assisted and was taken care of by his wife, Mary. After his wife’s death, he was completely heartbroken and his life became very bleak without his wife enabling him to suffer without any recovery.

The poem “Castaway” written by Cowper refers to his life and demonstrates how he has been destined to hell. The drowning of the man indicated in the poem clearly refers to Cowper. In one of the stanzas, Cowper states that: “…by toil subdued, he drank the stifling wave, and then he sank.” The sinking of the man refers to his destiny to damnation and how he had lost his hope from God. The poem also mentions how he was abandoned by his friends: “They left their outcast mate behind”. The mate refers to Cowper and indicates that there’s wasn’t anyone to support him and help him recover when he needed his friends the in his crucial moment of his life. This moment might refer to the suicide attempts and when he was in the state of insanity. The abandonment of his friends might also refer to the death of his wife. Maybe he’s trying to ask himself why his wife passed away when he was lonely and needed her the most. The poem not only demonstrates the abandonment of his friends but also God whom he believed deep inside his heart but later his belief was destructed with the realization of his destiny to hell.


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