Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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SUCH as the lovely Swan appears
When rising from the Trent or Thame,       620
And as aloft his Plumes he rears,       [Latin: 660]
Despises the less beauteous stream:

So when my joyful Flow'r is born,
And does its native glories show;
Her clouded Rival she does scorn;
Th'are all but soils where Lily's grow.

Soon as the Infant comes to light
With harmless Milk alone 'tis fed;
That from the Innocence of white
A gentle temper may be bred.

The milky Teat is first apply'd
To fiercest Creatures of the Earth,
But I can boast a greater pride,
A Goddess Milk, produc'd my Birth. 177

When Juno in the Days of yore
Did with the great Alcides teem,
Of Milk the Goddess had such store
The Nectar from her Breast did stream.

Whitening beyond the pow'r of Art
The Pavement where it lay,       640
Yet through the Crevises some part       [Latin: 680]
Made shift to find its way.

The Earth forthwith did pregnant prove
With Lily flow'rs supply'd,
That scarce the Milky way above
With her in whiteness vy'd.

Thus did the Race of Man arise,
When sparks of heav'nly fire
Breaking through Crannies in the Skies,
Did Earth's dull Mass inspire.

Happy those Souls that can like Me
Their native White retain;
Preserve their Heav'nly purity,
And wear no guilty stain.

Peace in my Habit comes array'd,
My Dress her Daughters wear;
Hope and Joy in white are clad,
In Sable weeds Despair.

Thus Beauty, Truth and Chastity
Attir'd we always find       660       [Latin: 700]
These in no Female meet, but me,
From me are ne'r disjoin'd.

Nature on many Flow'rs beside
Bestows a muddy white;
On me she plac'd her greatest Pride,
All over clad in Light.

Thus Lily spoke, and needless did suppose
Because of form, her Virtues to disclose.
Then follow'd Lilies of a diff'rent hue,
Who ('cause their beauty less than hers they knew)
From Birth and high Descent their title drew.
Of these the Martagon chief Claim did bring
(The noble Flow'r that did from Ajax spring)
But from the noblest Hero's veins to flow,
Seem'd less than from a Goddess Milk to grow.
At last the drowzy Poppy rais'd her Head
And sleepily began her Cause to plead,
Ambition ev'n the drowzy Poppy wakes,
Who thus to urge her Merit undertakes.


[177] Jupiter in order to make Hercules Immortal, clap'd him to Juno's breats, while she was asleep. The lusty rogue suck'd so hard, that too great gush of Mild coming forth, some spilt upon the Sky, which made the Galaxy or Milky Way; and some out of some which fell to the Earth arose the Lily.