The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

Cowley's Westminster Epitaph, with a Parody

From The Works of Abraham Cowley, 10th ed. (London, 1707).
Reproduced with permission from the Special Collections of
the University of Virginia.

Transcript of the Epitaph:


Anglorum Pindarus, Flaccus, Maro,
Deliciæ, Decus, Desiderium Aevi sui,
Hic iuxta situs est.
Aurea dum volitant late tua scripta per orbem
Et Famâ æternum vivis, Divine Poeta,
Hic placidâ jaceas requie, Custodiat urnam
Cana Fides vigilentque perrenni lampade Musæ.
Sit sacer iste locus, Nec quis temerarius ausit
Sacrilegâ turbare manu Venerabile Bustum
Intacti maneant, maneant per secula Dulcis
COULEII cineres, serventque immobile saxum.
sic Vovet
Votumque suum apud Posteros sacratum esse voluit
Qui viro Incomparabili posuit sepulcrale marmor,

Excessit è vita Anno Æ.tis 49 et honorifica pompa
elatus ex Ædibus Buckingamianis viris illustribus
omnium Ordinum exsequias celibrantibus
sepultus est Die 3.o M. Augusti An.o 1667.

Translation of the Epitaph*:


the English Pindar, Horace, Virgil:
the delight, glory and desire of his age,
lies near this place.
Whilst that thy glorious volumes still survive
And thou (great Poet) art in Fame alive,
Here take thy full repose, free from alarmes,
In th'Churches bosome and the Muses armes.
Speak and tread softly Passengers, and none
With an unhallowed touch pollute this stone
Let sweet-strained Cowley in death's sleep ne're stir
But rest, rest ever in his sepulchre.
So wisheth
And desires his wish may be Sacred to posterity
He who erected this monument To that incomparable person

He departed this life in the 49 year of his age
And was buried in great state out of the Duke of
Buckingham's House Many illustrious persons of all
degrees attending his funeral. August 3d. 1667.

  * MS. written "on the back of a damaged copy of Faithorne's engraved portrait" of Cowley, here reprinted from Henry Campkin's transcript in Notes and Queries, n.s. 5 (1852), 267-68; verses at the lower left are apparently to be inserted in the literal translation at , and a note at the top of Campkin's transcript ("per Carolum Scarborough Militem Med. Doctorem") suggests that either the Latin or the amplified English translation or both are the work of Cowley's friend Dr. Scarborough, knighted 1669, as reported in the DNB entry s.n. Scarburgh, Sir Charles. The burlesque written on the same sheet mocks the pomp of the epitaph itself and the inserted verses alike, but treats Cowley himself with a playful respect; topicalities here speak for the piece as authentic, but it may be a literate forgery of the sort not uncommon in Campkin's day. Visit our Other Verses on Cowley for an earlier parodic rejoinder to Cowley's own Pindaric Odes. Our transcript has been normalized in the same way as Cowley's "Hymn to Light; in line 2 of "Burlesque," we have also changed "Sr" ("Sir") to "St" ("St.)."

Whilst thou above wear'st a triumphant wreath
And we the Poets militant beneath
Anthems to thy immortal honor breath

[Fill] the dark chest which for Apollo's heir
Ecclesia Anglicana doth prepare
And let the vestal nunne's watch ever here.

Let Libitina's selfe think't no disgrace
To be the Angel Guardian of this place
That no rude hand this monument deface.

Here let seraphic Cowley rest his head
Here let him rest it in this earthy bed
Till we all rise with glory lawrelled.

Whilst through ye world thy golden verses passe
more golden than those of Pythagoras
And whilst [sweet lyri]st thy anointed name
is registred in the large rowle of Fame

Here rest secure and let this minster be
a Sanctuary in that sense to thee,
Let the nine muses bid farewell to sleep
ever to watch the grave thy corps doth keep.

New consecrated is the holy ground
no crime no guilt must here be found;
Let not the man of vices hither come
and with his breath profane this sacred tomb.

Let Cowley's dust lie quiet in its urne
till the last trump all things to ashes turn;
Let it its station keep and quiet lie
till the blest dawn of immortality.

Here lies, reduc'd to ashes and cinder,
Not St Paul, but St Abraham Pindar.
It is not fierce Horatio Vere,
but Horatio Cowley buried here.

Nor is this Polydore Virgil's room,
but Cantabrigian Virgil's tomb.
    The pleasant'st child e're England bred
    The bravest youth e're Cambridge fed
    The dearest man e're wore a head.

Whilst that thy ballads up and down do flutter
and the town gallants of thy town muse mutter
Possesse this church, though thou couldst not ye Savoy
and in her soft lap let Melpomene have thee.

Let no Court storm nor tough-lung'd zealot blow
thy neatly angled atomes to and fro
And sleep in beggar's Limbo, by dull Chaucer,
under the whim wham urn as broad as sawcer
    Whilst yt thy name doth smell as sweet as May's
    and all ye table talk is of thy Thais  [Bays?]
    thy miscellany and thy Davideis.

Rot away here and let the vault endure thee
let the religion of the house secure thee
and let the watching muses here immure thee.

Avaunt all ye that look profane and vile
Stand off, stand off, a hundred thousand mile
Nor with your thumbs this monument defile.

Let sugar-candy Cowley sleep in's grotte
let not ye people wake him, let them not
nor steal away the surgeons gally pot.

Whilst on wing'd Pegasus thou [Phoebus Son]
through air and earth and sea and all do ride
Whilst by Orinda's pipe thy praise is blown
And thou in fairy land art deified;

Whilst thou dost soar aloft leave coyrs behind
to be interrd in antient monast'ry
And to the chimeing rabble safely joyn'd
[To] Draiton, Spencer and old Jeoffery.

The Living Author's Epitaph" // Elegies on the Death // 1689 Paraphrase of the Westminster Epitaph // Other Verses on Cowley // Back to Cowley's Works (1707)