Mr. ABRAHAM COWLEY
HIS DEATH AND BURIAL AMONGST THE
By the Honourable Sir John Denham.
ON THE DEATH OF
Mr. ABRAHAM COWLEY
And his Burial in
OUR wit, till Cowley did its lustre raise,
May be resembled to the first three daies,
In which did shine only such streaks of light
As serv'd but to distinguish Day from Night:
But wit breaks forth, in all that he has done,
Like Light when 'twas united in the Sun.
The Poets formerly did lye in wait
To rifle those whom they would imitate:
We Watcht to rob all strangers when they writ
And Learnt their Language but to steal their Wit. 10
He from that need his Country does redeem,
Since those who want may be supply'd from him;
And Forreign Nations now may borrow more
From Cowley than we could from them before;
Who though he condescended to admit
The Greeks and Romans for his Guides in wit
Yet he those ancient Poets does pursue
But as the Spaniards great Columbus do;
He taught them first to the New World to steer,
But they possess all that is precious there. 20
When first his spring of wit began to flow,
It rais'd in some, wonder and sorrow too,
That God had so much wit and knowledge lent,
And that they were not in his praises spent.
But those who in his Davideis look,
Find they his Blossoms for his Fruit mistook:
In diff'ring Ages diff'rent Muses shin'd,
His Green did charm the Sense, his Ripe the Mind.
Writing for Heaven he was inspir'd from thence,
And from his Theam deriv'd his influence. 30
The Scripture will no more the wicked fright;
His Muse does make Religion a delight.
Oh how severely Man is us'd by Fate!
The covetous toil long for an Estate;
And having got more than their life can spend,
They may bequeath it to a Son or Friend:
But Learning (in which none can have a share,
Unless they climb to it by time and care,
Learning, the truest wealth which man can have)
Does with his Body, perish in his Grave: 40
To Tenements of Clay it is confin'd,
Though 'tis the noblest purchase of the mind:
Oh why can we thus leave our friends possest
Of all our acquisitions but the best?
Still when we study Cowley we lament
That to the world he was no longer lent;
Who, like a lightning, to our eyes was shown;
So bright he shin'd and was so quickly gone.
Sure he rejoic'd to see his flame expire,
Since he himself could not have rais'd it higher; 50
For when wise Poets can no higher flie,
They would, like Saints, in their perfection die.
Though beauty some affection in him bred,
Yet only sacred learning would he wed;
By which th'illustrious off-spring of his brain
Shall over Wits great Empire ever reign:
His works shall live, when Pyramids of Pride
Shrink to such ashes as they long did hide.
That sacrilegious fire (which did last year
Level those Piles which Piety did rear) 60
Dreaded neer that majestick Church to flye
Where English Kings and English Poets lye:
It at an awful distance did expire,
Such pow'r had sacred Ashes over fire;
Such as it durst not neer that Structure come
Which Fate had order'd to be Cowley's Tomb;
And 'twill be still preserv'd, by being so,
From what the rage of future Flames can do.
Material Fire dares not that place infest
Where he who had immortal flame does rest. 70
There let his Urn remain, for it was fit
Amongst our Kings to lay the King of wit:
By which the Structure more renown'd will prove
For that part bury'd than for all above.
Upon the Death of
Should write in his own way, in his immortal Verse:
But who can such majestick Numbers write?
With such inimitable light?
His high and noble flights to reach
'Tis not the art of Precept that can teach.
The world's grown old since Pindar, and to breed
Another such did twenty ages need.
Great as the first in Genius and in Fame; 10
But that the first in Greek, a conquering Language, sung
And the last wrote but in an Island Tongue.
Wit, thought, invention in them both do flow
As Torrents tumbling from the mountains go.
Though the great Roman Lyrick do maintain
That none can equal Pindar's strain;
Cowley with words as full and thoughts as high
As ever Pindar did, does flie;
Of Kings and Heros he as boldly sings,
And flies above the Clouds, yet never wets his wings. 20
Nothing in Nature can his fancy bound;
As swift as Lightning in its course,
And as resistless in his force.
Whilst other Poets, like Bees who range the field
To gather what the Flowers will yield,
Glean matter with much toil and pain
To bring forth Verses in an humble strain;
He sees about him round,
Possest at once of all that can be found: 30
To his illuminated eye
All things created open lye,
That all his thoughts so clear and so perspicuous be,
That whatsoever he describes we see;
Our Souls are with his passions fir'd,
And he who does but read him is inspir'd.
Though for his sake his race was sav'd from death
By th' Macedonian Youth, did not more honour do
Than Cowley does his Friends and Country too. 40
Had Horace liv'd his wit to understand,
He ne're had England thought a rude inhospitable Land;
Rome might have blush'd, and Athens been asham'd
To hear a remote Britain nam'd,
Who for his parts does match, if not exceed,
The greatest men that they did either breed.
Whose peaceful Scepter the whole world obey'd,
Account of him Mecenas would have made;
And from the Country shade, 50
Him into th' Cabinet have tane
To divert Cesar's cares and charm his pain:
For nothing can such Balm infuse
Into a wearied mind as does a noble Muse.
When all the Streets of Rome were strow'd with Bays
To receive Petrarch, who through Arches rode,
Triumphal Arches, honour'd as a Demy-God;
Not for Towns conquer'd, or for Batels won,
But for Victories which were more his own, 60
For Victories of Wit, and Victories of Art,
In which blind undiscerning Fortune had no part.
As long as Petrarch's, Cowley's name shall reign;
'Tis but his dross that's in the Grave,
His memory Fame from Death shall save;
His Bayes shall flourish, and be ever green,
When those of Conquerors are not to be seen.
ley Armigeri, Poëtae celeberrimi.
by William Speede
Hic, Cowleie, jaces, ipso vel judice Phoebo,
In terris posthac non habiture parem.
Carmina dum vivant, vireat dum planta per agros,
Dum teneat Coelum sydera, sydus eris.
Atra licèt nobis jactet nox lumen ademptum,
Quae tenebras nobis, nox dedit astra tibi.
Te, pater, ut dignum, Coelo donavit Apollo,
Et statuit Musis annumerare suis.
Memory of the Incomparable Mr. Abraham Cowley,
by R[ichard] P[eers]
As when some matchless Monarch dies, straight all
Adjoyning Kings resent his hasty fate:
With grave Solemnity deplore his fall,
Which yet their Pow'r enlarges and their State:
So while the mighty Cowley yields his breath
His Neighbours sorrow in Poetick guise;
In frequent Elegies lament his Death,
Though on his Ruines they exspect to rise.
And I, whose small Estate will scarce support
A mean Repute by Vulgar Poets won, 10
Like a profuse Retainer of the Court
Must keep the Fashion though I be undone.
May he whose dawning light of early Day
Outvy'd the splendour most Meridians have
Deign that a Tapers faint officious Ray
Do a small act of Duty to his Grave.
Though vain's the Zeal which Richest Gums bestows,
Or strews the Flowers of no common Verse,
For his each leaf does nobler sweets disclose,
And his own Garden best adorn his Herse. 20
Those happy Simples rescue from the Grave,
When Physicks Rules but empty succours bring.
From their fresh bloom his constant Glories have
A lovely Verdure and a lasting Spring.
Nor him unwilling Histories record,
'Mongst those who at great Fame not good arrive;
Whose Names are only read to be abhor'd,
As Civil Wars and signal Plagues survive.
But such a blest Eternity attends
His works, as if from Spciy Odours bred, 30
Which some fam'd Herbalist together blends
At once to sweeten and preserve the dead.
A ruined Palace (1) first he rais'd, and then [1667: ruin'd
Describ'd a Garden worthy such a Pile.
To Build and Plant with failing Age in ken
Deaths fatal Omen wise observers stile.
Yet must Experience cancel here her Laws;
Those very works shall make him deathless grow:
Thence he new life and youthfull vigour draws;
Themselves obstructing what they would foreshow. 40
Hence then we date our Mighty Lyricks Birth,
While with him rival Emulation dies.
Heav'ns Harp ne'r sets, but seems to touch the Earth;
Still brighter thence, and greater in its Rise.
In Solemn Duty to his Princely Grave,
Concern and Prejudice do now expire:
With the observance of an Eastern slave
First light his Pile, then leap into the fire.
For even they, who (while he liv'd) oppress'd
His growing Merits and his worth defam'd, 50
Confess him now of Modern Wits the best,
And next Immortal Spencer (2) to be nam'd.
So Romes repenting Senate Altars rears
And their yet bleeding Romulus adore;
he their Devotions object straight appears
Who fell the Victim of their Rage (3) before.
How just (ye Gods) was He! though oft arraign'd,
Though oft condemn'd by Wars severest Laws;
His Hopes discarded, and his Honour stain'd
For a too quick Surrender (4) of his Cause. 60
See what weak Crimes do his first Faith oppose,
Which Interest and base design attest:
Like Pious David down his Harp he throws
When those that hear him are by Rage possest.
For first in happy Verse he did design
The seeds of Faction (5), and the source of War:
How Piety can with Ambition joyn,
And more than Hell contrive, Religion dare.
But after Newburies (6) twice dismal Field
Rebellions Conquest he no longer sings. 70
His measures unto wild disorder yield,
And Englands weeping moisture cracks his strings.
Strong fate the vulgar unto Ruine led,
Disease their Meat, distemper was their Drink:
Now o're the Body was it too far spred
To deem the Tetter curable by Ink.
Bold Treasons matchlesse Triumphs he had seen,
Ere from the War his Loyal Pen retir'd:
Though Poetry had real fury been,
And no feign'd madness, now to be Inspir'd, 80
And therefore knowing Time alone defeats
The force of Floods by hasty Torrents fed,
(Like a foyl'd Prince) with Rebels wisely treats:
By feign'd Compliance unto conquest led.
Unhappy man, whose miseries ne'r cease!
On whom kind Fortune scarce bestows one smile!
His Loyalty is paid with Court-disgrace,
And a Retirement bitter as Exile.
Yet he's ne'r chang'd by Sorrows or by Time:
His rever'd Prince does in his weeping Eyes 90
Appear more Sacred still, and more sublime;
As heights at distance seem to reach the Skies.
He thought on Pious Davids mighty Name,
Whom once his Muse so happily did Sing:
And deem'd it Treason 'gainst his Princely Theme
Ought should divide the Poet and the King.
Curst those, who (like the German Monk (7) invent
The seeds of Ruine in their fatal Cells:
Whose Leisure's on designs of Tumult bent,
And on the Deaths of tardy Ages dwells. 100
While nought those Rebel discontented Souls
But dismal thoughts of Stabs and Drugs possess,
By Physicks aid, Deaths Empire he controuls,
And does those ills which they design, redress.
He from the Noise and Injuries of Court,
Does only so to silent Groves repair,
As half-tir'd Passengers to Shades resort
From the offensive fury of the Air.
Here his Pindarick Muse so bravely soar'd,
Commended others and her own fate mourn'd, 110
Long absent vertue seem'd to Earth restor'd,
And Poetry unto the Woods return'd.
Nor did the Learned World e're think him less;
(The fate of all great Persons in disgrace)
None there did his commanding worth depress,
Or his Supream Authority displace.
Him still their Guide succeeding Wits propound,
And those that best approach him Fame commends.
His Royal stamp on basest Mettals found
Together Value and resemblance lends. 120
So, near his Death some recluse Prince gives Law,
Wehn Vertue's heightened by Romantique Lore:
His cloyster'd Majesty retains that aw
By which his Edicts rul'd the world before.