Cowley, Abraham . The Third Part of the Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley Being his Six Books of Plants
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'MOng Children I a baneful Weed am thought,34
By none but Hags or Fiends desir'd or sought.
They think a Doctor is in jest, or mad,
If he agrees not, that my juice is bad.
The Women also I offend, I know,
Though to my bounteous hands so much they owe.      [Latin: 420]
Few Palates do my bitter tast approve,
How few, alas! are well inform'd by Jove!
Sweet things alone they love; but in the end
They find what bitter gusts those sweets attend.
Long nauseousness succeeds their short-liv'd joys,
And that which so much pleas'd the Palate, cloys.
The Palate justly suffers for the wrong 35
Sh' 'as done the Stomach; into which so long
All tastefull food she cramm'd, til now, quite tir'd,
She loaths the Dainties she before admir'd,
A grievous stench does from the stomach rise,
And from the mouth Lernæan Poison flies.
Then they're content to drink my harsher juice,
Which for its bitterness they n'er refuse.       460
It does not idle in the stomach lie,
But, like some God, give present remedy.
(So the warm Sun my vigour does restore,
When he returns and the cold Winter's o'r.)
There I a Jakes out of a Stable throw,
And Hercules's labour undergo.
The Stomach eas'd its Office does repeat,
And with new living fire concocts the meat.       [Latin: 440]
The purple Tincture soon it does devour,
Nor does that Chyle the hungry veins o'rpower.
The visage by degrees fresh Roses stain,
And the perfumed breath grows sweet again.
The good I do Venus herself will own,
She, though all sweets, yet loves not sweets alone.
She wisely mixes with my juice her joys,
And her delights with bitter things alloys.
We Herbs to different studies are inclined,
And every faction does its Author find.
Some Epicurus's sentiments defend,
And follow pleasure as their only end.       480
It is their pride and boast sweet fruits to bear,
And on their heads they flowry Chaplets wear.
Whilst others courting rigid Zeno's Sect,
In Virtue fruitful, all things else neglect.
They love not pomp, or what delights the sense,
And think all's well, if they give no offence.
And none a greater Stoick is, than I,
The Stoa's Pillars on my Stalk rely.       [Latin: 460]
Let others please, to profit, is my pleasure.
The Love I slowly gain's a lasting treasure.
In Towns debauch'd he's the best Officer,
Who most censorious is and most severe;
Such I am; and such you, dear Cato, were.
But I no dire, revengeful passion show,
Our Schools in Wisemen Anger don't allow.
No fault I punish more than that which lies
Within my Province; wherefore from my eyes
Choler with hasty speed before me flies.
As soon as Me it in the stomach spies,
Preparing for a War in Martial guise,       500
Not daring in its lurking holes to stay,
It makes a swift escape the backward way.
I follow him at th'heels, and by the scent
Find out which way the noisom Enemy went.
Of Water too I drain the flesh and bloud, 36
When Winter threatens a devouring flood.
The Dutchmen with less skill their Country drain,
And turn the course of Waters back again.
Sometimes th'obstructed Reins too narrow grow,
And the salt floods back to their Fountains flow.       [Latin: 480]
Unhappy state! the neighboring members quake,
And all th'adjacent Country seems to shake.
Then I begin the Waters thus to chide;
Why, sluggish Waters, do you stop your tide?
Glide on with me, I'll break the Rampires down,
That stop the Channel where you once have flown.
I do so; straight the Currents wider grow,
And in their usual banks the Waters flow.
This all the members does rejoice and chear,
Who of a dismal Deluge stood in fear.       520
Men-eating Worms I from the body scare, 37
And conquering Arms against that Plague prepare.
(Voracious Worm! thou wilt most certainly
Heir of our bodies be, whene'r we die;
Deferr a while the meal which in the Grave,
Of humane Viands thou e'r long must have.)
Those Vermine Infants bowels make their food,
And love to suck their fill of tender bloud.
They cannot stay till Death serves up their feast,
But greedily snatch up the meat undrest.
Why shou'd I speak of fleas? such Foes I hate,
So basely born, ev'n to enumerate,
Such dust born, skipping points of life; I say,
Whose only virtue is, to run away.
My Triumphs to such numbers do amount,
That I the greater ones can hardly count.
To such a bulk the vast account does swell,
That I some Trophies lose which I should tell.
Oft wandring Death is scatter'd through the Skies, 38
And through the Elements infection flies. [image]      540       [Latin: 500]
The Earth below is sick, the Air above,
Slow Rivers prove they're sickly, whilst they move;
All things Deaths Arms in cold embraces catch,
Life even the vital Air away doth snatch.
To remedy such evils God took care,
Nor me as least of Med'cines did prepare.
Oft too, they say, I (though no Giant neither)
Have born the shock of three strong Foes together.
Not without reason therefore, or in vain 39
Did conquering Rome my Honour so maintain:
The Conqu'ror a Triumphal draught of Me
Drank, as the Guerdon of his Victory.
Holding the crowned Goblet in his hand
He cry'd aloud, This Cup can health command.
Nor does it, cause 'tis bitter, please me less,
My toils were so, in which I met success.


[34] Pliny spends all Chap. 7. l. 27. in enumerating the Virtues of Wormwood, and Fernelius is large upon it; whom consult.


[35] It strengthens the Stomach, and purges it of Choler, Wind and Crudities.


[36] It is good against the Dropsie.


[37] And Worms which occasion'd the Name, Wormwood.


[38] And useful in time of Pestilence.


[39] Concerning this custom see Pliny, ut suprà.