Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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HOMER I will not vain or careless call,
Though he no mention makes of me at all,
That he blame-worthy was in this, 'tis true,
But the blind Bard gives other Gods their due.
To doubt his truth were Piety to slight,
Ev'n what of Moly he affirms is right,
I once had such a Flower, but now bereft
O' th'happiness, the Name is onely left.
No sooner Men its wondrous Virtue knew,
But jealous Gods the pow'rful Plant withdrew;
'Tis said that Jove did Mercury chastise
For shewing to Ulysses such a Prize.       [Latin: 560]
To say I saw him do't I'll not presume,
But witness am of Moly's unjust Doom.
Ev'n to the Shades below her Root strikes down,
As she wou'd make th'infernal world her own.
As from their Seats the very Fiends she'd drive,       520
And spight of flames and blasting Sulphur thrive.
Jove saw 't, and said, Since Fire can't stop thy course,
We'll try some Magick water's stronger force.
Then calling Lympha to him, thus at large 174
Unfolds his Mind, and gives the Goddess charge:
Thou know'st, said he, where Cicones reside,
There runs a marv'lous petrifying tide;
Take of that stream (but largely take) and throw
Where-e'r thou seest the wicked Moly grow;
Our Empire is not safe, her Powr's so large;
Whole Rivers therefore on her Head discharge.
Lympha with lib'ral Hand the Liquor pours,
While thirsty Moly her own Bane devours;
Her Stem forthwith is turn'd (O Prodigy) [image] [image]
Into a Pillar; where her Flow'r shou'd be [image] [image]
The sculpture of a Flow'r is onely shown: [image] [image]
Poor Moly thus transform'd to Marble Stone,       [Latin: 580]
The story of her fate do's still present,
And stands in Death her own sad Monument.
Here ended little Moly's mighty Reign,       540
By jealous Gods for too much Virtue slain.

What wonder then if that bold Flow'r did prove 175
The object of his wrath that Rival'd Jove.
That to embrace chast Juno did aspire,
Gallant t'a Goddess, of a God the Sire.
The vig'rous Herb begat a Deity,
A God, like Jove himself for Majesty,
And one that thunders too as loud as he,
With one short Moment's touch begot him too,
That's more than ever threshing Jove cou'd do.
The Flow'r it self appears with Warriours Mien,
(As much as can in growing Plants be seen.)
With stabbing Point and cutting edg 'tis made,
Like warlike weapon, and upon it's Blade
Are ruddy stains like drops of Bloud displa'd.
Its Spikes of Falchion-shape are sanguine too,
Its Stem and Front is all of bloudy hue:
The Root in form of any Shield is spread,       [Latin: 600]

A crested Helmet's plac'd upon it's Head.
Upon his Stalk, Strings, Bow and Arrow's grow,       560
A Horsman's Spur upon his Heel below.
Minerva I would have this Warriour wed,
A Warriour fit for chast Minerva's Bed;
So might she teem, yet keep her Maiden-head.
My Garden had but one of these I own,
And therefore by the name of Phoenix known,
The Herb that could encrease Jove's mighty Breed;
T'its self an Eunuch was and wanted seed.
Grieving that Earth so rich a Prize should want,
I try'd all means to propagate the Plant:
What cannot Wit, what cannot Art fulfil?
At least where Pow'rs Divine wou'd shew their skill.
One tender Bulb another did succeed,
And my fair Phoenix now began to breed;
But mark th'Event, shall I expecting sit,
Cries Jove, till this young Sprout more Gods beget?
To have a Rival in my Heav'n, and see       [Latin: 620]
An Herb-race mingle with Jove's Progeny?
A dreadful and blind Monster then does make; 176
That on his Rival dire Revenge might take;       580
Though less of size, shap'd like a Forest Boar,
And turns him loose into my Garden's store. [image] [image]
What havock did the Savage make that day,
(I weep to think what flow'ry Ruins lay)
With Sulphur's fume I strove to drive him thence,
The fume of Sulphur prov'd too weak defence.
Great Spurge and Assa Fotida I try'd,
In vain, in vain strong Moly's scent apply'd.
Small Vermin did his Ancestors suffice,
When they cou'd catch a Bettle 'twas a Prize,
But such coarse fare this Salvage does despise.
He like a Swine of Epicurus breed,
On the best Dainties of my Soil must feed.
Tulips of ten pounds price (so large and gay
Adorn'd my Bow'r) he'd eat me ten a Day:
For twice the sum I could not now supply
The like, though Jove himself should come to buy.
Yet like a Goddess I the damage bore,
With courage, trusting to my Art for more.
While therefore I contrive to trap the Foe       600       [Latin: 640]
The wretch devours my precious Phoenix too.
Nor to devour the Sire is satisfy'd,
But tears the tender off-spring from his side.
O impious Fact -- here Flora paus'd awhile,
And from her Eyes the Crystal tears distil:
But as became a Goddess checkt her grief,
And thus proceeds, in language sweet and brief;
Thee Moly, Homer did perhaps devour,
For, to Heav'ns shame be't spoke; the Bard was poor.
But in thy praise wou'd ne'r vouchsafe to speak.
From these Examples, Moly, warning take,
To fatal Honours seek not then to rise,
'Tis dangerous claiming Kindred with the Skies:
Thou honest Garlick art, let that suffice,
Of Countrey-growth, own then thy Earthly Race,
Nor bring by pride on Plants or Man, disgrace.
She said -- and to the Lily waiting by,
Gave Sign, that she her Title next should try.


[174] The Goddess of Waters


[175] Lark-Spur. The Herb, by the touch of which Juno was feigned to conceive Mars. Ovid. Fast. lib. etc.


[176] The Mole.