Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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THou, wretched Shrub (in passionate tones) said she;
Dost thou pretend to be my Enemy?
Dost thou a Plant, which through the world is known,
Disparage? all mankind my Virtues own.       [Latin: 800]
Whilst thou for hollow Teeth a Med'cine art, 112
And scarcely bear'st in Barbers shops a part.
Go, hang thy Tables up, to show thy Vows,
And with thy Trophies load thy bending bows.
Among the Monuments of thy Chivalry
The greatest some old, rotten Tooth will be.
What? cause thy Tear stops weeping rheum, and lays
A Damm, which currents of defluxions stay,
Dost think thy force can keep the Womb so tight,
As to restrain Conceptions liquid flight?
No sure; but thou by Cheats a Name hast sought,       840
And woud'st, though vile though art, too dear be bought.
By false pretences you on Fame impose,
But I the truth of what I am disclose.
Children, I own, I from the Belly wrest;
Go now, of my confession make your best.
I own, I say; nor canst thou for thy heart,
(Though thou more tender than the Mother wert,)
Prevent me with thy tears or all thy Art.
Thee let the pregnant Mother eat, and fence
With thee her womb; with Pitch and Frankincense;       [Latin: 820]
A Loadstone too about her let her bear; 113
(That I suppose, does thy great Virtues wear.)
For that, we know, fix'd to their native place
Retains the Iron-seeds of humane Race.
Let Emeralds and Coral her adorn,
And many Jaspers, on her Fingers worn;
With Diamonds and Pearl, Child of a shell
Whose fish herself and that secures so well.
But above all let her the Eagles stone
Car, and two of them, not onely one.       860
For nothing strengthens Nature more, than that;
Nothing the Womb does more corroborate.
Let her do all, yet all shall prove in vain,
If once access to her my juices gain.
I own it; nor will I ungrateful be

To bounteous Nature, lest I anger thee,

Though thou hast done thy worst to anger me.
'Tis Natures gift, whose wisdom I esteem
Much more than thine, though thou a Cato seem
Into the Womb by stealth I never creep,
Nor force my self on Women, whilst they sleep.       [Latin: 840]
I'd rather far, untouch'd, uncropt, be seene
In Gardens always growing, fresh and green.
I'm gather'd, pounded, and th'untimely blow
Must give, which I my self first undergo.
You justly blame Medea, but, for shame,
The guiltless knife, she cut with, do not blame.
The listening Trees will think thee drunk with Wine,
If thou of drunkenness accuse the Vine.
Nor this bare Pow'r do I to Heaven owe,       880
Which greater Virtues did on me bestow.
For I the Courses and the After-birth,
With the dead Members deadly weight bring forth.
Poor Infants from their native Goal I free,
And with astonish'd Eyes the Sun they see.
But nothing can they find, worth so much pain;
And wou'd return into the dark again.
They wish my fatal draught had come before,
Ere the great work of life was yet quite o'r.
That which you call a Crime, I own to be,
But you must lay't on Men and not on me.       [Latin: 860]
Ah! what at first wou'd tender Infants give
(When newly form'd they scarce begin to live)
For this, if possibly they cou'd but know,
Through what a passage they must after go?
Ah! why did Heav'n (with reverence let me say)
Into this World make such a narrow way?
You'd think the Child by 's pains to Heav'n shou'd go,
"Whilst he through pain's born to a world of woe.
Through deadly strugglings he receives his breath,       900
And pangs, i' th'birth resemble those of death.
Mothers, the name of Mothers dearly buy,
And purchase pleasure at a rate too high.
But thou, Child-bearing Woman, who no ease
Canst find, (tormented with a dear Disease)
Whose tortur'd bowels that sweet Viper gnaws,
(That living burthen, of thy Rack the cause)
Take but my leaves with speed, their Virtue try
(In them, believe me, sovereign juices lie.)
Thy barriers they by force soon open lay,
And out o' th'world, 'tis scarce a wider way.
The Infant, ripe, drops from the bows, and cries
The whilst his half-dead Mother silent lies;
But hearing him she soon forgets her pain,
And thinks to do that pleasant trick again.       [Latin: 880]
But thou, on whom the silver Moons moist rays
(For the wombs night its Lady Moon obeys)
No influence have, I charge thee, do not take
My leaves, but hast, though loaded, from 'em make.
Down from the Trees by my force shaken, all       920
The fruits though ne'r so green and sour, fall.
(This I foretel you, lest, when you're aggriev'd,
You then shou'd say, by me you were deceiv'd.)
For innocent Girls sin sore against their will,
None ever wish'd her womb a Child might fill:
Yet if I were not in the world, they wou'd
Incline to do the fact, but never cou'd.
But many other Plants the same can do,
Wherefore if banishment you think my due,
Companions in it I shall have, I know;
And into Creet a troop of us shall go.
Thou, Myrrh! for one shalt go, who heretofore 114
For lewdness punish'd now deserv'st the more.
But thou, though lewd didst not prevent the birth,
Though 'twas a Crime to bring the Infant forth.       [Latin: 900]
And All heal too, who Death affrights, must pack, [image]
With Galbanum and Gum Ammoniack.
And Be s to Cyrenians never sold,
Unless they brought the sweeter smell of Gold.
Ground-pine and Saffron too will Exiles prove,       940
Saffron, once Crocus, yellow dy'd by Love.
Madder, and Colloquintida with me,
And Dragon too the Cretan shore must see.
And Sowbread too, whose secret darts are found
Child-bearing Women distantly to wound.
And Rue, as noble a Plant as any's here,
Physick to other things, is Poison there.
What shou'd I name the rest? We make a throng,
Thou Birthwort too with us must troup along;
Nor must you, President, behind us stay,
Rise then and into Exile come away.
She ended, with great favour and applause;
And there's no doubt but she obtain'd her cause.
the Mugwort next began, whose awful Face
Check'd all their stirs, and silence fill'd the place.       [Latin: 920]


[112] Mastick is good for the Tooth-Ach.


[113] Sennertus and other Physicians recommend these Stones to be held in the hand, or otherwise applied to those who fear Abortion.


[114] Plants that procure Abortion.