Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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Pæonia. The PEONY.

[image] [image]
IF the fond Tulip, swell'd with pride,
In her Fools-coat of motley colours dy'd;
If lov'd Adonis Flower, the Celandine.       [Latin: 900]
Wou'd proudly be prefer'd to mine;
Then let Joves Bird, the Eagle quit the Field,
The Thunder to the painted Peacock yield:       880
Then let the Tyrant of the Woods be gone,
The Lion yield to the Chameleon.
You'll say perhaps the Nymphs make much of you,
They gather me for Garlands too.
And yet d' ye think I value that?
Not I, by Flora, not a jot.
Virtue and courage are the valuable things,
On difficult occasions shown.
Not painted Arms ennoble Kings,
Virtue alone gives lustre to a Crown.
Hence I, the known Herculean Disease
The Falling Sickness, cure with ease,
Which, like the Club, that Hero once did wear,
Down with one single blow mankind does bear.
I fansie, hense the story rise,
That Pluto wounded once by Hercules.
My juice, infus'd by Pæon, gave him ease,       [Latin: 920]
And did the groaning God appease.
Pæon was fam'd, I'm sure, for curing this disease.
Pluto is God of Hell, 't shou'd seem       900
Prince of inexorable Death;
Now this Disease is Death; but not like him
Without a sting, plac'd in the Shades beneath.
I shou'd be vain, extreamly vain, indeed
A quarrel on Punctilio's to breed,
Since a more noble Flower, than I,
The Sun in all his journey does not spy.
Nor do I go in Physick's beaten Road
By other Plants before me trod,
But in a way worthy a healing God.

I never with the foe come hand to hand.
My Odour Death does at a distance send;
Hung round the Neck strait without more ado       [Latin: 940]
I put to fight the rampant foe;
I neither come (what think you, Cesar, now)
Nor view the Camp, and yet can overthrow.
She spoke, and bow'd, and so the Court forsook,
Her Consort follow'd with a blushing look;
When strait a fragrant Air of strong Perfume,
And a new lustre darted through the Room.       920
No wonder, for the Rose did next appear,
Spring wisely plac'd his best and choicest troops i' th'Rear.
Some wild in woods; yet worth and beauty show,
Such as might in Hesperian Gardens grow.
Nought, by experience, than the Wood-Rose found,
Better to cure a mad Dogs poisonous wound;
This brings away the Gravel and the Stone,
And gives you ease though to a Quarry grown.
The beauteous Garden-Rose she did not shame,
Though better bred and of a softer Name;
Which in four Squadrons drawn, the Damask Rose
In name of all the rest maintain'd the Cause;       [Latin: 960]
Which sprung, they say, from Syrian Venus bloud, 139 [image]
Long time the pride of rich Damascus floud. [image]


[139] The Rose is said at first to have grown white only, till Venus running after Adonis, scratch'd her Legs upon its thorns, and stain'd the flowers red with her bloud.