At age fifty-seven, after multiple suicide attempts and confinements, in semi-retirement at Olney but Buried above ground.still feeling himself “Buried above ground,” Cowper had plenty of excuses to complain of boredom and suffering. Yet much of the rest of the letter is a burlesque of life in the “Antediluvian world,” pre-ark. Cowper is one of literature’s virtuoso riff-writers, starting with a theme and improvising a vivacissimo set piece. One understands the link of madness to comedy:
“I will suppose myself born a thousand years before Noah was born or thought of. I rise with the sun; I worship; I prepare my breakfast; I swallow a bucket of goats’ milk, and a dozen good sizeable cakes. I fasten a new string to my bow, and my youngest boy, a lad of about thirty years of age, having played with my arrows till he has stripped off all the feathers, I find myself obliged to repair them. The morning is thus spent in preparing for the chace [sic], and it is become necessary that I should dine.”
Cowper was a human rarity, impervious to boredom, thoroughly endowed with Inner Resources.