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

| Table of Contents for this work |
| All on-line databases | Etext Center Homepage |

Iris, or the FLOWER-DE-LUCE.

IF Empire is to Beauty due
(And that in flowers, if anywhere, holds true)
Then I by Nature was design'd for Reign;
Else Nature made a beauteous Face in vain.
Besides, I boast a sparkling Gem,
And brighter Goddess of my Name.
My lofty front toward the Heaven I bear,
And represent the Sky, when 'tis serene and clear.
To me a Godlike Power is given
With a mild face resembling Heaven;       800
And in the Kingly stile, no Dignity
Sounds better than SERENITY;
Beauty and Envy oft together go,       [Latin: 820]
Handsom my self, I help make others so; 134
Both Gods and Men of the most curious Eyes
With secret pleasure I surprise;
Nor do I less oblige the Nose,
With fragrance from my Root that blows.
Not Sibaris or soft Capua did know
A choicer Flower for smell or show,
Though both with pleasure of all kinds did flow.
I own, the Violet and the Rose
Divinest Odours both disclose;
The Saffron and Stock Gilloflower.
With many more;
But yet none can so sweet a root produce. 135
My upper parts are trim and fair,       [Latin: 840]
My lower breath a grateful Air,
I am a Flower for sight, a Drug for use.
Soft as I am, amidst this luxury,       820
Before me rough Diseases fly.
Thus a bold Amazon with Virgin face
Troops of dastard Men will chase.
Thus Mars and Venus often greet,
And in single Pallas meet:
Equal to her in Beauties charms
And not to him inferior in Arms.
By secret Virtue and resistless power
Those whom the Jaundice seizes I restore; 136
Though moist with Unguent, and inclin'd to love,
I rather was for Luxury design'd,
And yet like some enraged Lioness
Before my painted Arms the yellow foe does hast.
The Dropsie headlong makes away
As soon as I my Arms display;       [Latin: 860]
The Dropsie, which Mans Microcosm drowns
Pulling up all the Sluces in its rounds,
I follow it through every winding vein,
And make it quit in hast the delug'd Man.
The Nation of the Jews, a pious folk,       840
Though our Gods they don't invoke;
And not to You, ye Plants, unknown
I' th'days of that great Flowrist Salomon.
Tell us, that Jove to cheer the drooping Ball
After the Floud, a Promise past,
How that so long as Earth shou'd last,
No future Deluge on the world shou'd fall. [image]
And as a Seal to this obliging Grant,
The Rain-bow in the Sky did plant;
I am that Bow, in poor Hydropick Man,
The same refreshing hopes contain.
I look as gay, and show as fine,
I am the Thing, of which that onely is the Sign.
My Plant performs the same
Towards Mans little worldly frame;
And when within him I appear,
He need no Deluge from a Dropsie fear.
The Peony then, with large red Flower came on, 137
And brought no train, but his lov'd Mate alone;       [Latin: 880]
Numbers cou'd not make him the cause espouse,       860
Nor did her costly wardrobe Pride inspire,
All dress'd alike, all did one colour wear.
And yet he wanted not for Majesty,
Appearing with a sober gravity.
For He advanc'd his purple forehead, which
A Flower with thousand foldings did enrich:
Some love to call it the Illustrious Plant.
And we may well, I think, that Title grant;
Physicians in their publick Writings show,
What praise is to the first Inventor due.
Pæon was Doctor to the Gods, they say, 138
By the whole College honour'd to this day.
With her own merits, and this mighty Name
Hearten'd and buoy'd, she thus maintain'd her Claim.


[134] The juice of the Root takes away Freckles and Morphews.


[135] Of the Root is made, that call'd Powder of Cyprus, or Orris Powder.


[136] Its faculty in curing these Diseases, is celebrated by Laurember, Fernelius, etc.


[137] The Peony male and female.


[138] Homer says, Pæon cur'd Pluto with this Plant, when he was wounded by Hercules.