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Pronounc'd, and in his volumes taught our laws, The conscience, Friend, to've lost them overply'd Which others at their bar so often wrench ;
In liberty's defence, my noble task,
This thought might lead me thro' the world's Let Euclid rest, and Archimedes pause,
vain mask, And what the Swede intends, and what the French. Content though blind, had I no better guide.
To measure life learn thou betimes, and know Tow'rd solid good what leads the nearest way;
On his deceased Wife. For other things mild Heav'n a time ordains Methought I saw my late espoused saint And disapproves that care, though wise in shew, Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave, That with superfluous burden loads the day,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave, And when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains. Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom wash'd from spot of child-bed taint, To the same.
Purification in the old law did save, Cyriac, this three years day these eyes, tho' clear, And such, as yet once more I trust to have To outward view, of blemish or of
Full sight of her in Heav'n without restraint, Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind: Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Her face was veil'd, yet to my fancied sight Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year,
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
So clear, as in no face with more delight. Against Heav'n's hand or will, nor bate a jot But O, as to embrace me she inclin’d, Of heart or hope; but still bear up, and steer I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.
Rightonward. What supports me ? dost thou ask:
COWLEY-A. D. 1618-1667.
That nature or that fancy can create,
THE PRAISE OF POETRY. 'Tis not a pyramid of marble stone, Though high as our ambition ; 'Tis not a tomb cut out in brass, which can Give life to th' ashes of a man, But verses only; they shall fresh appear Whilst there are men to read or hear, When time shall make the lasting brass decay, And eat the pyramid away, Turning that monument wherein men trust Their names to what it keeps, poor dust; Then shall the epitaph remain, and be New graven in eternity. Poets by death are conquer’d, but the wit Of poets triumphs over it. What cannot verse? When Thracian Orpheus took His lyre, and gently on it strook, The learned stones came dancing all along, And kept time to the charming song. With artificial pace the warlike pine, The elm and his wife the ivy twine, With all the better trees which erst had stood Unmov'd forsook their native wood. The laurel to the poet's hand did bow, Craving the honour of his brow; And ev'ry loving arm embrac'd, and made With their officious leaves a shade. The beasts, too, strove his auditors to be, Forgetting their old tyranny: The fearful hart next to the lion came, And the wolf was shepherd to the lamb. Nightingales, harmless syrens of the air, And muses of the place, were there; Who, when their little windpipes they had found Unequal to so strange a sound, O’ercome by art and grief, they did expire, And fell upon the conqu’ring lyre. Happy, O happy they! whose tomb might be, Mausolus! envied by thee!
She touch'd him with her harp and rais'd him from
the ground; The shaken strings melodiously resound. “ Art thou return’d at last," said she, “ To this forsaken place and me? Thou prodigal! who did’st so loosely waste Of all thy youthful years the good estate ; Art thou return’d, here to repent too late? And gather husks of learning up at last, Now the rich harvest-time of life is past, And winter marches on so fast? But when I meant t'adopt thee for my son, And did as learn’d a portion assign As ever any of the mighty Nine Had to their dearest children done; When I resolv'd t'exalt thy anointed name Among the spiritual lords of peaceful fame; Thou changeling! thou, bewitch'd with noise and Wouldst into courts and cities from me go; (shew, Wouldst see the world abroad, and have a share In all the follies and the tumults there; Thou wouldst, forsooth! be something in a state, And business thou wouldst find, or wouldst Business! the frivolous pretence (create: Of human lusts to shake off innocence ; Business! the grave impertinence; Business! the thing which I of all things hate; Business! the contradiction of thy fate.
THE COMPLAINT. In a deep vision's intellectual scene, Beneath a bow'r for sorrow made, Th’uncomfortable shade Of the black yew's unlucky green, Mix'd with the mourning willow's careful gray, Where rev'rend Cam cuts out his famous way, The melancholy Cowley lay; And, lo! a Muse appeared to his clos’d sight, (The Muses oft in lands of vision play) Body'd, array'd, and seen by an internal light: A golden harp with silver strings she bore, A wondrous hieroglyphic robe she wore, In which all colours and all figures were
Go, renegado! cast up thy account,
As a fair morning of the blessed spring, After a tedious stormy night,
Such was the glorious entry of our king;
That ever since I vainly try Enriching moisture dropp'd on every thing: To wash away th' inherent dye: Plenty he sow'd below, and cast about him light. Long work, perhaps, may spoil thy colours quite, But then, alas! to thee alone,
But never will reduce the native white. One of Old Gideon's miracles was shewn,
To all the ports of honour and of gain For ev'ry tree, and ev'ry herb around,
I often steer my course in vain; With pearly dew was crown'd,
Thy gale comes cross, and drives me back again. And upon all the quicken'd ground
Thou slacken’st all my nerves of industry,
Whoever this world's happiness would see,
Must as entirely cast off thee,
This was my error, this my gross mistake,
Thus with Sapphira and her husband's fate,
(A fault which I, like them, am taught too late) The Rachel, for which twice seven years and more, For all that I gave up I nothing gain,
1 Thou didst with faith and labour serve,
And perish for the part which I retain.
Teach me not then, O thou fallacious Muse! Giv'n to another thou didst see,
The court and better king t’ accuse; Giv'n to another, who had store
The heav'n under which I live is fair, Of fairer and of richer wives before,
The fertile soil will a full harvest bear: And not a Leah left, thy recompense to be.
Thine, thine is all the barrenness, if thou Go on, twice sev'n years more, thy fortune try, Mak'st me sit still and sing, when I should plough. Twice sev’n years more God in his bounty may When I but think how many a tedious year Give thee to fling away
Our patient sovereign did attend Into the court's deceitful lottery:
His long misfortunes' fatal end; But think how likely 'tis that thou,
How cheerfully, and how exempt from fear, With the dull work of thy unwieldy plough, On the Great Sovereign's will he did depend, Shouldst in a hard and barren season thrive, I ought to be accurs'd if I refuse Shouldst even able be to live;
To wait on his, 0 thou fallacious Muse! Thou! to whose share so little bread did fall Kings have long hands, they say, and tho'l be In the miraculous year when manna rain’d on all.” So distant, they may reach at length to me.
However, of all princes, thou
[slow. Thus spake the Muse, and spake it with a smile, Shouldst not reproach rewards for being small or That seem'd at once to pity and revile:
Thou! who rewardest but with pop'lar breath, And to her thus, raising his thoughtful head, And that too, after death! The melancholy Cowley said: * Ah! wanton foe! dost thou upbraid The ills which thou thyself hast made?
THE COUNTRY MOUSE. When in the cradle innocent I lay,
At the large foot of a fair hollow tree, Thou, wicked spirit! stolest me away,
Close to plow'd ground, seated com
mmodiously, And my abused soul didst bear
His ancient and hereditary house, Into thy new-found worlds, I know not where, There dwelt a good substantial Country Mouse, Thy golden Indies in the air;
Frugal, and grave, and careful of the main. And ever since I strive in vain
A City Mouse, well coated, sleek, and gay, My ravish'd freedom to regain;
A mouse of high degree, which lost his way, Still I rebel, still thou dost reign;
Wantonly walking forth to take the air, Lo, still in verse, against thee I complain.
Had arriv'd early, and belighted there There is a sort of stubborn weeds,
For a day's lodging. The good hearty host Which, if the earth but once it ever breeds,
(The ancient plenty of his hall to boast) No wholesome herb can near them thrive,
Did all the stores produce that might excite, No useful plant can keep alive:
With various tastes, the courtier's appetite: The foolish sports I did on thee bestow
Fitches and beans, peason, and oats, and wheat, Make all my art and labour fruitless now; [grow. And a large chesnut, the delicious meat Where once such fairies dance, no grass doth ever Which Jove himself, were he a mouse, would eat.
And for a hautgout, there was mix'd with these When my new mind had no infusion known, The swerd of bacon, and the coat of cheese, Thou gav'st so deep a tincture of thine own, The precious relics which at harvest he
Had gather'd from the reaper's luxury.
They both at last, glutted and wanton lie: Freely (said he) fall on, and never spare,
When, see the sad reverse of prosp'rous fate, The bounteous Gods will for to-morrow care. And what fierce storms on mortal glories wait: And thus at ease on beds of straw they lay,
With hideous noise down the rude servants come, And to their genius sacrific'd the day :
Six dogs before run barking into the room ; Yet the nice guest's Epicurean mind
The wretched gluttons fly with wild affright, (Though breeding made him civil seem and kind) And hate the fullness which retards their flight. Despis’d this country feast, and still his thought Our trembling peasant wishes now, in vain, Upon the cakes and pies of London wrought. That rocks and mountains cover'd him again. Your bounty and civility (said he)
Oh how the change of his poor life he curs'd! Which I'm surpris'd in these rude parts to see, This of all lives, said he, is sure the worst. Shews that the Gods have given you a mind
Give me again, ye Gods! my cave and wood; Too noble for the fate which here you find.
With peace, let tares and acorns be my food.
TO THE ROYAL SOCIETY.
Of all that human knowledge which has been Where all the mice of quality resort ;
Unforfeited by man's rebellious sin, Where thousand beauteous shes about you move, Though full of years he doth appear, And by high fare are pliant made to love.
(Philosophy! I say, and call it he, We all ere long must render up our breath,
For whatsoe'er the painter's fancy be, No cave or hole can shelter us from death.
It a male virtue seems to me) Since life is so uncertain and so short,
Has still been kept in nonage till of late, Let's spend it all in feasting and in sport.
Nor manag'd or enjoy'd his vast estate. (thought, Come, worthy sir! come with me, and partake Three or four thousand years, one would have All the great things that mortals happy make. To ripeness and perfection might have brought Alas! what virtue hath sufficient arms
A science so well bred and nurs’d, T'oppose bright honour and soft pleasure's charms ? And of such hopeful parts, too, at the first; What wisdom can their magic force repel ?
But, oh! the guardians and the tutors then, It draws this rev'rend hermit from his cell.
(Some negligent, and some ambitious men) It was the time, when witty poets tell,
Would ne'er consent to set him free, “ That Phæbus into Thetis' bosom fell:
Or his own nat'ral pow'rs to let him see, “ She blush'd at first, and then put out the light, Lest that should put an end to their authority. “ And drew the modest curtains of the night.” Plainly, the truth to tell, the sun was set,
That his own bus’ness he might quite forget, When to the town our weary'd trav’llers get. They amus'd him with the sports of wanton wit; To a lord's house, as lordly as can be,
With the deserts of poetry they fed him, Made for the use of pride and luxury,
Instead of solid meats t' increase his force ; They come; the gentle courtier at the door Instead of vig'rous exercise they led him Stops, and will hardly enter in before ;
Into the pleasant labyrinths of ever-fresh discourse : But ʼtis, sir, your command, and being so,
Instead of carrying him to see I'm sworn t' obedience; and so in they go.
The riches which do hoarded for him lie Behind a hanging in a spacious room,
In Nature's endless treasury, (The richest work of Mortlake's noble loom) They chose his eye to entertain They wait awhile, their weary'd limbs to rest (His curious, but not cov’tous eye) Till silence should invite them to their feast, With painted scenes and pageants of the brain. 6 About the hour that Cynthia's silver light Some few exalted sp'rits this latter age has shewn, “ Had touch'd the pale meridies of the night.” That labour'd to assert the liberty At last the various supper being done,
(From guardians who were now usurpers grown) It happen'd that the company was gone
Of this old minor, still captiv'd Philosophy; Into a room remote, servants and all,
But 'twas rebellion call’d, to fight
For such a long-oppressed right.
Whom a wise king and nature chose
Lord Chancellor of both their laws, And with delicious bits the floor was strew'd. And boldly undertook the injur'd pupil's cause. The courteous mouse presents him with the best, And both with fat varieties are bless'd:
Authority, which did a body boast, Th’industrious peasant ev'ry where does range, Though 'twas but air condens'd, and stalk'd about And thanks the Gods for his life's happy change. Like some old giant's more gigantic ghost, Lo! in the midst of a well-freighted pie
To terrify the learned rout
With the plain magic of true reason's light, And were unjust if we should more require
From his few years, divided 'twixt th' excess
Of low affliction and high happiness: By the vain shadows of the dead: (tom fled :
For who on things remote can fix his sight, To graves, from whence it rose, the conquer'd phan- That's always in a triumph or a fight! He broke that monstrous God which stood, In midst of th' orchard, and the whole did claim, From you, great champions! we expect to get Which with a useless scythe of wood,
These spacious countries but discover'd yet; And something else not worth a name,
Countries where yet, instead of Nature, we (Both vast for shew, yet neither fit
Her image and her idols worship'd see: Or to defend or to beget,
These large and wealthy regions to subdue, Ridiculous and senseless terrors !) made
Tho' learning has whole armies at command, Children and superstitious men afraid.
Quarter'd about in every land, The orchard's open now, and free;
A better troop she ne'er together drew. Bacon has broke that scarecrow deity :
Methinks, like Gideon's little band, Come, enter all that will,
God with design has pick'd out you, Behold the ripen'd fruit,come, gather now your fill! To do these noble wonders by a few. Yet still, methinks, we fain would be
When the whole host he saw, They are, said he, Catching at the forbidden tree;
Too many to o'ercome for me: We would be like the Deity;
And now he chooses out his men, When truth and falsehood, good and evil, we Much in the way that he did then: Without the senses' aid within ourselves would see ; Not those many, whom he found For 'tis God only who can find
Idly extended on the ground All nature in his mind.
To drink, with their dejected head,
The stream, just so as by their mouths it fled: From words, which are but pictures of the thought, No; but those few who took the waters up, (Though we our thoughts from them perversely And made of their laborious hands the cup.
drew) To things, the mind's right object, he it brought; Thus you prepar’d, and in the glorious fight Like foolish birds to painted grapes we flew. Their wondrous pattern, too, you take: He sought and gather'd for our use the true; Their old and empty pitchers first they brake, And when on heaps the chosen bunches lay, And with their hands then lifted up the light. He press'd them wisely the mechanic way,
lö! sound too the trumpets here! Till all their juice did in one vessel join,
Already your victorious lights appear ; Ferment into a nourishment divine,
New scenes of Heav'n already we espy, The thirsty soul's refreshing wine.
And crowds of golden worlds on high. Who to the life an exact piece would make, Which from the spacious plains of earth and sea Must not from others' work a copy take;
Could never yet discover'd be No, not from Rubens or Vandyck ;
By sailor's or Chaldean's watchful eye. Much less content himself to make it like
Nature's great works no distance can obscure, Th' ideas and the images which lie
No smallness her near objects can secure: In his own fancy or his memory:
Ye’ave taught the curious sight to press No, he before his sight must place
Into the privatest recess The natural and living face ;
Of her imperceptible littleness : The real object must command
Ye’ave learn'd to read her smallest hand, Each judgment of his eye and motion of his hand. And well begun her deepest sense to understand.
From these, and all long errors of the way,
Mischief and true dishonour fall on those