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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THat fate which frequently attends on all
Great Men, does Thee, egregious Bloud, befal. [image] 500 [Latin: 480]
Some praise what others too much disapprove,
Excessive in their Hatred as their Love.
This Man in prejudice, that in favour lies,
Whilst to their Ears a various rumour flies.
Hear Dittany; she says, each Woman known
The Moon to bring each moneth with Poisons down.
Nor need we mingle Herbs, or Charms, each one
Medea proves in her own bloud alone.
Yet the fair Rose, if all be true as sh' as said,
Each Woman has in that a Goddess made.
From thence, she says, Life spins its Purple thred,
And tells you how the half-form'd Embryo's fed.
But if my dear Apollo ben't unkind,
Nor I in vain his sacred Temples bind,
Such bloud nor form, nor nourishment supplies,
And so that triumphs in false Victories.
The many reasons, here I need not tell
Which me induce; this one will serve as well:
Woman's the onely Animal we know,
Whose veins with such immoderate courses flow. 520 [Latin: 500]
Yet every Beast produces young, we see,
And outdoes Mankind in fertility.
Hhow many do small Mice at one time breed!
Scorning the product of the Trojan Steed.
With what a bulk does yon vast El'phant come!
She seems to have a Castle in her womb.
Thy circuits, Luna, Conies almost tell
By kindling, near like thee their Bellies swell.
And yet their young no bank of bloud maintains,
Or nourishment that flows from gaping veins,
For when i' th'amorous war a couple vies,
A living spark from the Males body flies,
Which the wombs thirsty jaws, when they begin
To feel and tast, immediately suck in:
Into recesses which so turn and wind,
That them Dissecters Eyes can hardly find.
In the same Chambers part o' th'female Life
Keeps; a brisk Virgin, fit to make a Wife.
Them Venus joins, and with connubial Love
In mingled flames they both begin to move. 540 [Latin: 520]
There redness caus'd by motion you may see,
And bloud, the sign of lost Virginity.
Of their Invention, bloud, they're mighty glad;
And to Inventions easie 'tis to add.
The smallest spark 'tis easie to augment
If you can get it proper nutriment.
You need not introduce new flames besides,
Th'Elixir by this touch rich store provides.
All fires, (provide them fuel) think it shame
To yield to Vesta's never dying flame.
Thus the first generous drop of bloud is bred,
Which proudly scorns hereafter to be fed.
With the seeds native white at first 'tis fill'd,
And takes delight with its own stock to build.
But when that fails, then life grows burthensom,
And aid it wisely borrows from the womb.
Herself the stuff she borrows purifies,
And of a rosie, scarlet colour dyes.
From whom the wombs full paps with thirsty lips
Into its veiny mouths it daily sips. 560 [Latin: 540]
Look, where a child's new born, how soon it goes
And that food swallows, which of old it knows.
Kindly it plays and smiles upon the breast,
O'rjoy'd again to find its former feast.
Shall Nature glut her tender young with bloud?
No; that can't be their Elemental food.
That fare wou'd make them savage, were it so,
And all mankind fierce Cannibals wou'd grow.
I Nero's acts cou'd hardly then dispraise,
Nor wou'd Orestes fury wonder raise,
If Mothers bloud for wretched Infants first
By Heav'n's design'd, to satisfie their thirst.
Yet still that Fluxes cause we don't reveal,
Which does so cautiously its spring conceal.
A female brute whate'r her womb contains
Cherishes; yet no Moon dissolves her veins.
Some qual'ty then we for the cause must find
Which is peculiar to the female kind.
This is the onely thing, which I can tell,
That Man in form and softness they excel. 580 [Latin: 560]
No Horse a Mare outdoes, nor Bull, a Cow;
If through this Iö, through that Jove may low. [image] [image]
The Lions savage are both he and she,
And in their aspect equally agree.
The she's no neater lick'd than rough he-Bears,
Nor fitter to adorn the starry spheres.
She-Tygers ha' n't than males more spotted charms,
And Sows are clean as Boars, whom Thunder arms.
No painted Bird for want of Feathers scorns
Her Mate, but Heav'n them both alike adorns.
The Swans (who are so downy, soft and white)
Leda can scarce distinguish by the sight.
In Fishes you no difference can see,
Both in the glttering of their Scales agree.
Venus in them, arm'd by their naked sex, [image]
The darts of Beauty needed not t'annex.
In them no killing eyes the conquest gain,
Their smell alone their Triumphs can maintain.
But humane Race in flames more bright are try'd,
By Reason and resplendent Heat supply'd. 600 [Latin: 580]
Nor is Fruition their Original,
(A paltry, short-liv'd joy) Oh! may they All
Perish, who that alone true Pleasure call.
Kind Nature Beauty has on Maids bestow'd,
And with a thousand Charms all o'r endow'd.
Men she with golden fetters chose to bind,
And with sweet force their roving Souls confin'd. [image]
Nor Women made for bestial delight,
But with chaste pleasure too to rape the sight.
Hence all that bloud, which after pressings squeeze
Out of the grosser Chyle, as dregs or lees,
And that, which on the body and the chin
With dusky clouds o'rcasts the hairy skin,
From their fair bodies constantly she drains,
And Luna her commission for' t obtains.
But if those slimy flouds, by chance supprest,
Excessive heats to nutriment digest,
Manlike in time the Womens cheeks become,
And they, poor Iphis, undergo thy doom 106 [image]
So Phaëthusa, once so smooth and fair, 107 620
Wonder'd to feel her face o'rgrown with hair. [Latin: 600]
Her Hand she often blam'd, and for a Glass,
She call'd, to look how 'twas; but there, alas!
A bearded Chin and Lips she found, and then,
Blaming the Glass, felt with her hands agen.
Long-looking she her own strange visage fear'd,
And started, when an unknown voice she heard.
Thus and much more (but who can all relate)
Apollo's Laurel did expatiate.
Hence to the Wonders of the teeming Bed
The way it self their grave Discourses led.
Then Birth-wort, Juno's plant, the Court commands
To speak, who Women lends her Midwife hands.
Willing enough to talk her stalk she rais'd,
And her own Virtues very boldly prais'd.
 The Story of Iphis chang'd into a Boy on her Wedding-day, see Ovid. Met. 9.
 Hippocrates, lib. Epidem. says that Phaethusa, Wife of Pithæus of Abdera, having before been a fruitful Woman, upon the banishment of her Husband, and her Courses stopping, she became hairy and had a Beard, and her Voice grew strong hoarse, like that of a Man; the same he writes of Nemisa the Wife of Gorippus.