Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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THou neither leaf nor stalk, nor root can'st show;
How, in this pensile posture dost thou grow?
Thou'rt perfect Magick; and I cannot now
Those things you do, for Miracles allow;
Those wonders, if compar'd to you, are none;
Since you yourself are a far greater one.
To make the strength of other Herbs thy prey,
The Huntress thou thy self for Nets dost lay,
Live Riddle! He that would thy mysteries
Unfold, must with some Oedipus advise.       400
No wonder in your Arms the Plants you hold,
Thou being all Arms must them needs so infold.       [Latin: 380]
For thee large threads the fatal Sisters spin,
But to your work nor woof nor web put in.
Hence 'tis, that you so intricately twine
About that plant [31] which yields so long a line.
Oh! Spouse most constant to a Plant most dear, [image]
Than whom no Couple e'er more loving were.
No more let Love of wanton Ivy boast,
Her kindness is th'effect of nought but Lust.
Another she enjoys; but that her Love
And she are Two, many distinctions prove. 32
Their strength and leaves are different, and her fruit
Puts all the Difference beyond dispute.
The likeness to the Parent does profess,
That She in that is no Adulteress.
Her root with different juices is supply'd,
And She her Maiden name bears though a Bride.
But Dodder on her Spouse depends alone,
And nothing in her self can call her own.       420
Fed with his juice, she on his stalk is born,
And thinks his Leaves her head full well adorn.
Whe'r he be, She loves to take his Name,
And must with him be every way the same. [image]      [Latin: 400]
Alceste and Evadne thus enflam'd
Are, with some others, for their passion, fam'd.
So, Dodder, for thy husband Flax thoud'st die
I guess; but may'st thou speed more luckily.
This is her living passion; but she grows
Still more renown'd for kindness, which she shows
To mortal Men, when she 'as resign'd her breath;
For She of them is mindful even in Death.
The Liver and the Spleen most faithfully 33
Of all oppressions she does ease and free.
Where has so small a Plant such strength and store
Of Virtues, when her Husband's weak and poor?
Who'd think the Liver shou'd assistance need,
A noble part, from such a wretched Weed?
Use therefore little things; nor take it ill
That Men small things preserve; for less may kill.      440


[31] Flax.


[32] The Ivy is always call'd Ivy, whatsoever it cleaves to: but this Herb takes the name from the Plant on which it hands, with whom also it partakes its Virtues, as Epithymum, Epilinum, Epiurtica, etc.


[33] Concerning its manifold Virtues, consult Heurnius and Fernelius.