Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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LIfes lowest, but far greatest Sphere, I sing,
Of all things, that adorn the gawdy Spring:
Such as in Deserts live, whom, unconfin'd,
None but the simple Laws of Nature bind:
And those, who growing tame by human care,
The well-bred Citizens of Gardens are:
Those that aspire to Sol, their Sires bright Face,
Or stoop into their Mother Earths embrace:
Such as drink Streams, or Wells, or those, dry fed,
Who have Jove only for their Ganymede:
And all, that Salomon's lost Work of old, [image]
(Ah fatal Loss!) so wisely did unfold.
Though I the Oaks vivacious Age shou'd live,
I ne'r to all their Names in Verse could give.

Yet I the Rise of Groves will briefly show
In Verses, like their Trees, ranged all a-row.
To which some one perhaps new Shades may joyn,
Till mine, at last, become a Grove Divine. [image]
Assist me, Phoebus! Wit of Heav'n, whose care [image]
So bounteously both Plants and Poets share.       20       [Latin: 20]
Where e'er thou com'st, hurl Light and Heat around,
And with new Life enamel all the Ground;
As when the Spring feels thee, with Magick Light,
Break through the Bonds of the dead Winters Night;
When thee to Colchis the gilt Ram conveys, 1
And the warm'd North rejoyces in thy Rays.
Where shall I first begin? For, with delight
Each gentle Plant me kindly does invite.
My self to slavish Method I'll not tye,
But like the Bee, where e'er I please, will flie;
Where I the glorious hopes of Honey see,
Or the free Wing of Fancy carries me.
Here no fine Garden Emblems shall reside,
In well-made Beds to prostitute their Pride: [image]
But we rich Nature, who her Gifts bestows,
Unlimited (nor the vast Treasure knows)
And various plenty of the pathless Woods [image]
Will follow; Poor Men only count their Goods.
Do thou, bright Phoebus! guide me luckily
To the first Plant by some kind Augury.       40       [Latin: 40]

The Omen's good; so, we may hope the best,
The Gods mild Looks our grand Design have blest.
For thou kind Bet'ny! art the first we see,
And opportunely com'st dear Plant! for me;
For me, because the Brain thou dost protect,
See, if y'are wise, my Brain you don't neglect.
For it concerns you, that in Health that be,
I sing thy Sisters, Betony! and thee.
But who, best Plant! can praise thee to thy merit,
Or number the Perfections you inherit?
The Trees, he, in th'Hercynian Woods as well, [image]
Or Roses, that in Pæstum grow, may tell.
Musa at large, thy say, thy Praises writ, 2
But, I suppose, did part of them omit.
Cæsar his Triumphs would recount; do thou,
Greater than he a Conqueress! do so now.


[1] When the sun enters Aries, i. e. in March. Colchis Sea when the Ram with the Golden Fleece was said to have been translated into a Constellation.


[2] Antonius Musa, Physician to Augustus.