Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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CYBELES Holy Mysteries now begin; 87
Hence all you Males; for you it is a sin
One moment in this hallowed place to stay,
You jibing Males, who no devotion pay.
Allow the female Secrets, do not pry,
Or them at least pretend you don't descry.
'Tis rude that Sex t'inspect too narrowly,
Whose outside with such Beauties treats the Eye.
Auspicious Glory of th'inlighten'd Skie,
More sacred than thy Brothers Deity,
With thy whole Horns, kind Luna, favour me,
And let thy crescent Face look luckily.
Thee many Names and Offices adorn.
By thy kind aid poor, tender Babes are born: 88
Thou easest Women, when their Labour's hard,
And the Wombs vital Gates you, Jana, guard.
The menstruous courses you bring down, and them,
Changing convert into a milky stream.
Women, unconstant as the Sea, you bind,
To Rules; both flow according to thy mind.       20
Oh! may the Rivolets of my Fancy glide
By the same secret force, which moves the Tide.
Be thou the Midwife to my teeming brain,
And let it fruitful be as free from pain.       [Latin: 20]

It was the time, when April decks the year,
And the glad Fields in pompous garbs appear.
How pleas'd they are the Heav'ns again to see,
And that from Winters fetters they are free!
The World around, and Sisters, whom they love,
They view; such Objects sure their smiles must move.
Straight their great work the diligent Nation ply,
And bus'ness mind amidst their luxury.
Each one contends with all her might and main
Each day an higher, verdant Crown to gain.
Each one does leaves with beauteous Flow'rs, produce,
And hastens to be fit for humane use.
Equipp'd they make no stay, but one and all,
Intent upon th'Affair, a Council call.
Each Tribe (for there are many) as of old
Their custome was, a separate Council hold.       40
They're near a thousand Tribes; their Minutes well
An hundred Clerk-like tongues can scarcely tell.       [Latin: 40]
Nor cou'd I know them (for they won't reveal
Their sacred Acts, but cautiously conceal)
Had not my Laurel told me (whose Tribes name [image] [image]
The Female's stil'd) which summon'd thither came.
The secrets of the House she open laid,
Telling, how each Herb spoke and what it said.
Ye gentle, Floral part of humane kind
(To you and not to Men, I speak) pray mind
My words, and them most stedfastly believe,
Which from the Delphick Laurel you receive.
'Twas midnight, (whilst the Moon, at full, shone bright,
And her Cheeks seem'd to swell with moisten'd light)
When on their loosen'd roots the Plants, that grow
In th'Oxford Gardens, did to Council go; [image]
And such, I mean, as succour Womens pains;
Orpheus, you'd think, had mov'd them by his strains. [image]
They met upon a bed, neat, smooth and round,
And softly sate in order on the ground.       60
Mugwort first took her place (at that time
She The President of the Council chanc'd to be.)       [Latin: 60]
Birthwort, her Predecessor in the Chair,
Next sate, whose virtues breeding Women share.
Then Bawm, with smiles and pleasure in her face,
Without regard to Dignity took place.
Tyme, Sav'ry, Wormwood, which looks ruggedly,
Sparagus, Sothernwood both He and She, 89
And Crocus too, glad still soft Maids to chear, 90
Once a sad Lover, merry does appear,
And thou, Amaracus, who a trifling Ill 91
Didst mourn, when thou the fragrant Box didst spill
Of Ointment, in this place now far more sweet
Than the occasion of thy Death dost meet.
There Lilies with red Peonies find a Room,
And purple Violets the place perfume.
Yea noisome Devils turd, because she knows 92
Her worth, into that sweet Assembly goes.
The milky Lettuce too does thither move,
And Water-Lily, though a foe to Love.       80
Sweet Ladies glove with stinking Horehound come,
And kind Germander which relieves the Womb.
Poley and Calamint, which on Mountains dwell,
But against Frost and Snow are guarded well.       [Latin: 80]
Next vital Sage, well join'd with wholsom Rue.
And Flower-de-luce, nam'd from its splendid hue.
Then Hart-wort (much more grateful to the Deer
Than Dittany) with Wild Carrots, enters there.
Consound and Plantain; frugal herbs are they, 93
Who all things keep safe under Lock and Key.
And Master-wort, whose name Dominion wears,
With her, who an Angelick Title bears. 94
Lavender, Corn-rose, Pennyroyal sate,
And that which Cats esteem so delicate. 95
After a while, slow-pac'd, with much ado,
Ground-pine with her short Legs crept thither too.
Behind the rest Camomile cou'd not stay,
Through stones and craggy Rocks she cut her way.
From Spanish Woods the wholsome Vett'ny came, 96
The only glory of the Vettons name.       100
Minerva's Plant did likewise thither hie,
And was Companion to Mercury.
There Scarlet Madder too a place did find,
Drawing a train of its long root behind.       [Latin: 100]
Thither at last too Dittany did repair,
Half-starv'd, and griev'd to leave the Cretan air.
With her the bold, strong Sow-bread came along,
And hundred more (in short) to them did throng.
Many besides from th'Indies cross'd the main,
Plants, that of our chill Clime did much complain.
But Oxfords Fame; through both the Indies told,
Eas'd all their cares, and warm'd the nipping cold:
The Pigmey and Gigantick Sons o' th'Wood
Betwixt all these in equal spaces stood;
Spreading their verdant glories round above,
Which did delight and admiration move.
The scarlet Oak, that Worms for fruit brings forth, [image]
Which the Hesperian fruit exceed in worth,
Was there, good Womens Maladies to ease,
And Sprains, which we as truly call, Disease.       120
Her treacherously the Ivy does embrace,
And kills the Tree with kindness in her face.
Hardly, in nobler Scarlet clad, the Rose,
The envy of those stately Berries grows.       [Latin: 120]
Near which the Birch her rigid Arms extends,
And Savine which kind Sinners much befriends.
Next them the Beech with limbs so strong and large,
With the Bush purchas'd at so small a charge.
Nor did the golden Quince her self conceal,
Or Myrrh, whose wounds distemper'd Mortals heal. 97
Lastly (ye Plants whom I forget to name
Excuse me) Juniper too thither came, 98
And Laurel, sacred to the Sons of Fame.
Such reverend Heads did the green Senate fill;
The Night was calm, all things were hush'd and still;
Each Plant, with listening leaves stood mute to hear
Their Pres'dent speak; and these her Dictates were.


[87] This Book treating only of female Plants, is dedicated to Cybele, at whose Mysteries no Man ought to be present.


[88] The Moon is call'd Lucina, the Goddess of Midwifry; and Jana, as the Sun, Janus; and Mena, as she is the governess of Womens menstruous courses.


[89] Gynæcilis.


[90] Lavender-Cotton.


[91] i. e. Saffron; Crocus was a Boy that died for Love, and was turn'd into Saffron.


[92] The name of a Boy that spilt a Box of sweet Ointment, and was turn'd sweet Marjoram.


[93] Laserpitium, the Gum of which is called Assafoetida [in 1689 transposed with the "Dittany" note on mad dogs].


[94] They are binding.


[95] Angelica.


[96] Cat-Mint.


[97] Betony called Vettonica from a People of Spain that first found it out, and are memorable only upon that score.


[98] It is cut that the Gum may flow forth.