Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley
Being his Six Books of Plants
Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library
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WHen I stand musing (as I often do)
I'm fill'd with shame and noble anger too;
To think that all we Plants (except some few
Whom Phoebus with more vigour did endue)
Cannot away with Winters nipping fare,
But more effeminate, than Mankind, are.
From Father Sun, and Mother Earth in vain
We sprang; they both your figure still retain. 840
To our Delights why don't the Seasons yield,
And banish Winter from each verdant Field? [Latin: 780]
Why in Elysian Gardens don't we grow,
Whe're no chill blasts may on our beauties blow?
We're Halcyons forsooth, and can't with ease
Bring forth, unless the world be all at peace.
Nor is this softness only to be found
Among small Herbs, still creeping on the ground:
Great Elms and Oaks themselves it does controul.
In their hard bark they wear a tender Soul.
These Huffs Effeminacy count no crime;
You'd think in Summer they to Heav'n wou'd climb.
But if the Year its back upon them turn,
Each Giant creeps back into th'Earth his Urn. [image]
Here lies -- you on his bulky trunk may write;
For shame! There lie; let not the mold lie light.
But I, who very hardly dare receive
The name of Shrub (though Pliny gives me leave)
The dreadful Winter to the Combat dare;
Though Heav'n it self shou'd fall, I'd take no care. 860
The Winter comes; and I'm by storms alarm'd,
She comes with Legions numberless, well arm'd. [Latin: 800]
Then I my fruit produce, and having first
Expos'd them to her, cry, Now, do thy worst.
Pour, pour upon them all the Rain i' th'Skie,
It will not wast away their scarlet die.
Pour Snow, their Purple thence will grow more bright,
Some red in a white Vessel gives delight.
So the red lip the Ivory teeth befriends,
And a white Skin the rosy Cheeks commends.
With such like rudiments do I inure
My Virtue, and the force of it secure:
I, who rebellious Sickness must subdue,
And every day fresh Victories pursue.
Thus did I learn vast stones to break in twain, 57
And Ice, at first, put me to little pain.
For I not onely water do expel,
(That other weaker Plants can do as well)
But such hard Rocks of Adamant I break,
As Hannibal to pass wou'd prove too weak. 880
Unhappy He, who on this Rock is tost,
And shipwrack'd is on his own waters lost!
Even Sisyphus might pity and bemoan
The Wretch that's tortur'd with an inbred stone. [Latin: 820]
How does he envy, ah, how much, the dead,
Whose Corps with stones are only covered!
Wou'd I not help him? Might the Earth divide,
And swallow me, if I my aid deni'd.
Then I my self child of some Rock must own,
And that my roots were veins of hardest stone.
But truly I do pity such a Man,
And the obdurate matter quickly can
Dissolve; my piercing Liquor round it lies,
And straight into a thousand parts it flies.
The long obstructed streams then glide away,
And fragments with them of the Stone convey.
 It is excellent against the Stone and all Diseases of the Bladder, thence in Latin call'd Vesicaria.