Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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AND who can doubt my Race, says she, [image] [image]
Who on my face Love's tokens see?
The God of Love is always soft, and always young,
I am the same, then to his bloud what wrong?
My Brother wingèd does appear;
I leaves instead of wings do wear;       940
He's drawn with lighted Torches in his hand;
Upon my top bright flaming glories stand;
The Rose has prickles, so has Love,
Though these a little sharper prove;
There's nothing in the world above, or this below,       [Latin: 980]
But would for Rosy-colour'd go;
This is the Dye that still does please
Both mortal Maids, and heavenly Goddesses;
I am the Standard by which Beauty's try'd,
The wish of Chloe, and immortal Juno's pride.
The bright Aurora, Queen of all the East.
Proud of her Rosy fingers, is confest;
When from the gates of LIght the rising Day
Breaks forth, his constant rounds to go,
The winged hours prepare the way,
And Rosy Clouds before him strow.
The windows of the Sky with Roses shine;
I am Days Ornament as well as sign.
And when the glorious pomp and tour is o'er,
I greet it posting to the Western shore.       960
The God of Love, we must allow,       [Latin: 1000]
Shou'd tolerably Beauty know.
Yet never from those Cheeks he goes,
Where he can spy the blushing Rose.
Thus the wise Bee will never dwell
(That, like the God of Love has wings,
That too has Honey, that has stings)
On vulgar Flowers that have no grateful smell.
Tell me, blest Lover: what's a kiss
Without a Rosy Lip create the bliss?
Nor do I onely charming sweets dispence,
But bear Arms in my own and Mans defence.
I without the Patient's pain
Mans body, that Augean Stable clean.
Not with a rough and pressing hand,
As Thunder-storms from Clouds command,
But as the dew and gentle flowers
Dissolving light on Herbs and Flowers.
Nor of a short and fading date       [Latin: 1020]
Was I the less design'd for Rule and State;       980
Let proud ambitious Floramour 140
Usurping on the Gods immortal Name,
Joy to be stil'd the Everlasting Flower.
I ne'r knew yet that Plant that near to Nestor came.
We too too blest, too powerful shou'd be grown,
Which wou'd but Envy raise,
If we cou'd say our beauty were our own,
Or boast long life and many days.
But why shou'd I complain of Fate
For giving me so short a date?
Since Flowers, the Emblems of Mortality,
All the same way and manner die.
But the kind Gods above forbid,
That Virtue e'er a Grave shou'd find,
And though the fatal Sisters cut my thread,
My Odour, like the Soul, remains behind.
To a dead Lion a live Worm's prefer'd,       [Latin: 1040]
Though once the King of all the savage Herd.
After my Death I still excel
The best of Flowers that are alive and well.       1000
If that the name of Dead will bear,
From whose meer Corps does come,
(Like the dead bodies still surviving Hale)
So sweet a smell and strong Perfume.
Let 'em invent a thousand ways
My mangled Corps to vex and squeeze, [image]
Though in a sweating Limbeck pent
My Ashes still preserve their scent.
Like a dead Monarch to the Grave I come, [image]
Nature embalms me in my own Perfume.
She spoke, a Virgin blush came o'r her face,
And an Ambrosian scent flew round the place;
But that which gave her words a finer grace,
Not without some constraint she seem'd to tell her praise.
Her Rivals trembled; for the Judge's look       [Latin: 1060]
A secret pleasure and much kindness spoke; [image]
The Virgin did not for well-wishers lack,
Her kind red Squadrons stood behind her back.
The yellow nearest stood, unfit for war,
Nor did the spoils of cur'd Diseases bear;       1020
The white was next, of great and good renown,
A kind assistant to the Eye-sight known;
The third, a mighty Warrier, was the Red,
Which terribly her bloudy Banner spread;
She binds the Flux with her restringent Arts,
And stops the humours journey to those parts;
She brings a present and a sure relief
To Head and Heart, the Fountains both of Life;
The Fevers fires by her are mildness taught,
And the Hagg'd Man to sweet composure brought.
By help of this, Jason of old, we read, [image]
Yok'd and subdu'd the Bulls of fiery breed;
One Dose to sleep the watchful Dragon sent,       [Latin: 1080]
By which no more but a high Fever's meant.
Between this Squadron and the White, we're told,
A long and grievous strife commenc'd of old;
Strife is too soft a word for many years
Cruel, unnatural, and bloudy wars;
The fam'd Pharsalian fields twice dy'd in bloud,
Ne'r of a nobler Quarrel witness stood;       1040
The thirst of Empire, ground of most our wars,
Was that which solely did occasion theirs;
For the Red Rose cou'd not an Equal bear,
And the White wou'd of no Superiour hear,
The Chief by York and Lancaster upheld 141
With civil rage harass'd the British field.
What madness drew ye Roses to engage,
Kin against kin to spend your thorns and rage!
Go, turn your Arms, where you may triumph gain,
And fame unsullied with a blushing stain;
See the French Lily spoils and wasts your shore,
Go conquer there, where you've twice beat before.
Whilst the Scotch Thistle with audacious pride,
Taking advantage, gores your bleeding side.       [Latin: 1100]
Do Roses no more sense and prudence own
Than to be fighting for Domestick Crown?
From Venus You much of the Mother bear,
You both take pleasure in the God of War; [image]
I now begin to think the Fable true,
That Mars sprung from a Flower, fulfill'd by You.       1060
War ravages the Field, and like the furious Boar,
That turns up all the Gardens beauteous store; [image] [image] [image]
O'rthrows the Trees and Hedges, and does wound
With his ungentle tusk the bleeding ground;
Roots up the Saffron and the Violet-bed.
And feasts upon the gaudy Tulip's head.
You'd grieve to see a beauteous Plat so soon
Into confusion by a Monster thrown.
But oh, my Muse, oh whither doest thou tow'r
This is a flight too high for thee to soar.
The harmless strife of Plants, their wanton play,
Thy Pipe perhaps may well enough essay;
But for their Wars, that is a Theme so great,       [Latin: 1120]
Rather for Lucan's Martial Trumpet fit;
To him that sung the Theban Brothers death,
To Maro or some such, that task bequeath.


[140] Amaranth


[141] The Civil Wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster, of which the first bore the White-Rose, and the other the Red, cost more English bloud, than did twice conquering Franc.

   The End of the Third Book.