The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive


from Part Three of the Works tr. Nahum Tate et al. (1689; editor's copy)

Prose Notes // Image-references keyed to the Latin line-numbers

Plantarum Liber Tertius = De Plantis Liber III   (opening in new window)


NOW Muse, if ever, now look brisk and gay; [image]
The Spring's at hand; blithe looks like that display.
Use all the Schemes and colours now of Speech,
Use all the Flow'rs that Poetry enrich.
Its Glories all, its blooming Beauties bring,
As may resemble the returning Spring.
Let the same Musick through thy Verse resound
As in the Woods and shady Groves is found.
Let every line such fragrant praise exhale
As rises up from some sweet-smelling Vale.
Let Lights and Shades, as in the Woods appear,
And shew in painted Verse the season of the Year.

Come then away, for the first welcome Morn
Of the spruce Moneth of May begins to dawn.
This Day; so tells the Poets sacred Page;
Bright Chloris did in Nuptial bands engage,
This very day the knot was tied; and thence
The lovely Maid a Goddess did commence.
The signs of joy did everywhere appear,
On Earth, in Heaven, throughout the Sea and Air;       20 [image]
No wandring Cloud was seen in all the Sky,
And if there were, 'twas of a curious dye.       [Latin: 20]
The Air serene, not an ungentle blast
Ruffled the waters with its rude embrace,
The wind that was, breath'd Odours all around,
And only fann'd the streams, and only kiss'd the ground.
Of unknown Flow'rs now such a numerous birth
Appear'd, as e'en astonish'd Mother Earth.
The Lily grew 'midst barren Heath and Sedg,
And the Rose blush'd on each unprickly hedg.
The purple Violet and the Daffodil,
The places now of angry Nettles fill,
This great and joyful Day, on which she knew
What 'twas to be a Wife and Goddess too.
The grateful Flora yearly did express
In shews, Religious Pomp and gaudiness,
Long as she thriv'd in Rome, and reign'd among
The other Gods, a vast and numerous throng;
But when the sacred Tribe was forc'd from Rome.
Among the rest an Exile she became,       40
Strip'd of her Plays, and of her Fane bereft,
Nought of the grandeur of a Goddess left.       [Latin: 40]
Since then, no more ador'd on Earth by Man,
But forc'd o'er Flowers to preside and reign,
The best she can, she still keeps up the Day;
Not as of old, when bless'd with store she lay,
When with a lavish hand her bounties flew,
She ha'nt the heart, and means to do it now,
But in a way fitting her humble state
She always did, and still does celebrate.
And now that she the better may attend
The flowry Empire under her command,
To all the World at times she does resort,
Now in this part, now that she keeps her Court.
And so the Seasons of the year require;
For here 'tis Spring, perhaps 'tis Autumn there.
With ease she flies to the remotest shores,
And visits in the way a world of Flow'rs.
In Zephyr's painted Car she cuts the Air,
Pleas'd with the way, her Spouse the Charioteer.       60
It was the year, (thrice blest that beautious year,)
Which mighty Charles's sacred Name did bear.
A golden year the Heavens brought about
In high procession with a joyful shout,       [Latin: 60]
A year that barr'd up Janus brazen Gates, [image]
that brought home peace, and lay'd our monstrous heats;
A greater gift, bless'd Albion, thou didst gain,
It brought home God-like Charles, and all his peaceful train;
Compos'd our Chaos; cover'd o'r the fears,
And clos'd the bleeding wounds of twenty years;
Nor felt the Gown alone the fruits of peace,
But Gardens, Woods, and all the flowry race;
This year to every thing fresh honours brought,
Nor 'midst these were the learned Arts forgot.
Poor exil'd Flora with the Sylvan Gods
Came back again to their old lov'd abodes;

I saw her (through a Glass my Muse vouchsaf'd)
Plac'd on the painted bow securely waft.
Triumphantly she rode, and made her course
Towards fair Albion's long forsaken Shores.       80
That she our Goddess was, to me was plain
From the gay various colours of her train.
She light, renowned Thames, upon thy shore,
Long time belov'd, and shown to her before;
'Twas here the Goddess an Appointment set
For all the Flow'rs; accordingly they met; [image] [image]       [Latin: 80]
Those that are parch'd with heat, or pinch'd with cold,
Or those which a more temperate Clime does hold,
Those drunk with dew, the Sun just rising sees,
Or those, when setting, with a face like his,
All sorts that East and West can boast, were there,
But not such Flow'rs as you see growing here,
Poor mortal Flow'rs, obnoxious still to harms,
Which quickly die out of their mothers arms;
But those that Plato saw, Ideas nam'd,
Daughters of Jove, for heavenly extract fam'd.
T'Æthereal Plants! what Glories they disclose,
What excellence the first Celestial Rose;
What blush, what smell! and yet on many scores,
the Learned say, it much resembles ours;       100
Onely 'tis ever fresh, with long life bless'd,
Not in your fading mortal colours dress'd. [image] [image]
This Rose, the Image of the heavenly mind,       [Latin: 100]
The other growing on our Earth, we find;
Which is the Image of that Image, then
No wonder it appears less fresh and fine.
These Heaven-born species of the flowry race
Assembled all, the Wedding Morn to grace.

Phoebus, do thou the Pencil take, the same
With which thou gildst the worlds great chequer'd frame.
Lights Pencil take; try if thou canst display
The various Scenes of this resplendent Day.
And yet I doubt thy skill, though all must bow
To thee as God of Plants and Poets too;
I'm sure 'tis much too hard a task for me,
Yet some I'll touch,in passing, like the Bee.
Where the whole Garden can't be had, we know,
A Nosegay may; and that if sweet, will do.

Now when a part of this triumphant Day
In sacred pompous Rites had pass'd away,       120
Rites, which no mortal Tongue can duly tell,
And which perhaps 'ts not lawful to reveal,       [Latin: 120]
At length the sporting Goddess thought it best
(Though sure the humour went beyond a Jest)
A pleasant sort of Trial to propose,
And from among the Plants a Queen to chuse,
Which shou'd preside over the flowry Race,
Be a Vice-Goddess and supply her place.
Each Plant was to appear, and make its plea,
To see which best deserv'd the Dignity.
The Scene Arch'd o'r with wreathing branches stood,
Which like a little hollow Temple show'd, [image] [image]
The Shrubs and Branches, darting from aloof
Their pretty fragrant shades, compos'd the roof;
Red and white Jasmine, with the Myrtle Tree
The favourite of the Cyprian Deity,
The golden Apple-tree with silver bud,
Both sorts of Pipe-tree, with the Sea-dew stood;
There was the twining Woodbind to be seen,
And yellow Hather, Roses mixt between.       140
Each Plant its Notes and known distinctions brought
With various Art the gaudy Scene was wrought;
Just in the Nave of this new-modell'd Fane,
A Throne the judging Goddess did sustain,       [Latin: 140]
Rob'd in a thousand several sorts of leaves,
And all the colours which the Garden gives,
Which join'd together trim, in wondrous wise,
With their deluding Figures mock'd your Eyes.
A noble checquer'd work; which real seems,
And firmly set with glistring Stones and Gems;
It real seem'd; though Gods such bodies wear
For weight, as Flow'rs upon their down may bear;
The Goddess seated in Majestick wise
With all the pride the wealthy Spring supplies,
Had Ariadne's Crown; and such a vest
With which the Rainbow on bright days is drest;
Before her Throne did the officious band
Of Hours, Days,Months in goodly order stand. [image] [image]
The Hours upon soft painted wings were born,
Painted; but swift alas! and quickly gone;       160
The Days with nimble feet advanc'd apace;
And then the Months, each with a different face,
On Cynthia's Orb they tend with constant care,
In Monthly Courses whirling round her Sphere.       [Latin: 160]
First Spring, a Rosy-colour'd Youngster, stood
With looks enough to bribe a judging God.
Summer appear'd, rob'd in a yellow Gown,
Full Ears of ripen'd Corn compos'd her Crown;
Then Autumn proud of rich Pomona's store,
And Bacchus too treading the blushing floor;
Poor half-starv'd Winter shivering in the Rear,
The Stoical and sullen part o' th'year.
Yet not by Step-dame Nature wholly left
Of every grace is Winter-time bereft.
Some Friends it has in this afflicted state,
Some Plants that Faith and Duty don't forget;
Some Plants the Winter season does supply
Born purely for delight and luxury;
Which brave the frost and cold, and merit claim,
Though few indeed, and of a lower frame.       180
The New Year did him this peculiar grace,
And Janus favouring with his double face, [image]       [Latin: 180]
That he shou'd first be heard; and have the power
To draw forth all his poor and slender store.
Winter obeys; and ranks 'em, best he can,
More trusting to the worth than number of his Men.
Just in the front of Winter's scanty band
Two lofty Plants, or flowry Giants stand,
Spurge-Olive one, t'other a kind of Bay.
Both high, and largely spreading every way,
But did they in a milder season sprout,
Whether they e'er wou'd pass for Flow'rs, I doubt,
But now they do; and such their looks and smell
The place they hold, they seem to merit well.
Next Woolfs-bane, us'd in Step-dames poisoning trade,
Born of the foam of Pluto's Porter, said,
A baneful Plant, springing in craggy ground,
Thence its hard name, itself much harder found;
Briskly its gilded Crest it does display,
And boldly stares i' th'face the God of Day,
|       200
Which Cerberus its Sire durst ne'r assay. [image]
The Plant, call'd Snow-drops, next in course appear'd, 123
But trembling, by its frightful Neighbour scar'd,       [Latin: 200]
Yet clad in white her self, like fleecy Snow,
Near her bad Neighbour, finer does she show.
The noble Liver-wort does next appear,
Without a speck, like the unclouded Air;
A Plant of noble use and endless fame,
The Liver's great Preserver, thence its Name;
The humble Plant conscious of inbred worth
In Winters hardest frost and cold, shoots forth.
Let other Plants, said she, for seasons wait,
For Summer gales, or the Suns kindly heat,
She scorns delay; naked, without a Coat,
As 'twere in hast, the noble Plant comes out.
Next the blew Primrose, which in Winter blows,
But wears the Spring both in its name and cloaths;
The Saffron then, and tardy Celandin,
To these our Lady's-Seal, and Sow-bread join.
But these appearing out of season, were       220
Bid to their homes and proper tribes repair.
There now remain'd of Winters genuine store
And off-spring, Bears-foot or the Christmas Flow'r, 124
The pride of Winter, which in frost can live,       [Latin: 220]
And now alone for Empire dar'd to strive.
On its black stalk it rear'd it self, and then
With pale but fearless face to plead began.


[123] These Plants by Art sometimes are made to flower in Winter.


[124] This flower's in December.

Helleborus Niger, or, Christmas Flower

I Mean not now my Beauty to oppose
To that of Lilies, or the blushing Rose;
Old Proetus Daughters me from that do feare,
Who once with Juno durst their face compare,
Mad with Conceit, each thought her self a Cow;
Just judgment! teaching all themselves to know.
My noble Plant banish'd this wild caprice,
And gave 'em back their human voice and speech.
Melampus by my aid soon brought relief,
And for the care had one of 'em to Wife.
And none will charge me with that blindness, sure,
Or the same folly I pretend to cure.
The Goddesses above a Beauty claim       240
Lasting and firm as their immortal frame,
Which time can't furrow, or Diseases wrong;
To be immortal is, to be for ever young.       [Latin: 240]
In Flow'rs or Girls Beauty's a transient thing;
Expect as well the whole year will be Spring.
Ye flow'ry Race, that open to the sky,
And there have seen a Cloud of curious Dye,
The gaudy Phantome now with pride appears,
Look up again, 'tis strait dissolv'd in tears;
Such is the short-liv'd glory Flowers have,
Bending, they point still toward their womb and grave.
The wind and rain aim at their tender Head,
Besides the Stars their baneful influence shed;
Like the fam'd Semele, they die away [image] [image]
In the embraces of the God of Day.
Expos'd to Air, to Heat an open prey,
Colds though their tender fibres force their way:
The Swallow or the Nightingale abhors
Not Winter more, than do th'whole race of Flow'rs.
If among these a Flow'r you can descry       260
(Fitter to be transplanted to the Sky)
Which is so hardy, as to stand the threat
Of storms and tempests that around her beat;       [Latin: 260]
That with contending winds dare boldly strive,
Scorns Cold, and under heaps of Snow can live,
To this, great Goddess, to this noble Plant
You ought the Empire of the `Garden grant.
Kings are Joves Image; and if that be true,
To Virtue onely Sovereign sway is due.
Trusting to this, and not the empty Name
Of Beauty, I the flowry Empire claim.
Nor will this soft, luxurious, pamper'd Race
Of Flow'rs, were things well weigh'd, deny me place;
For lo! the Winter's come; what change is there,
What looks, what dismal aspect of the year!
The winds from Prison break; no mercy yield,
But spoil the native Glories of the Field.
First on the Infant Boughs they spend their rage,
And scarcely spare the poor trunks reverend age;
Either with swelling Rains, the ground below       280
Is drown'd, or covered thick in beds of Snow;
Or stiff with Frost; the streams Ic'd o'r
Are pent within a bank, unknown before.       [Latin: 280]
Each Nymph complains, and every River God
Feels on his shoulders an unusual load;
Nature a Captive now to Frost become
Lies fairly buried in a Marble tomb.
And can you wonder then that Flow'rs shou'd die,
Or hid within their beds, the danger fly?
D' ye see the Sun, how faint his looks; that tell
The God of Plants himself i' n't over-well.
Now let me see the Violet, Tulip, Rose.
Or any of 'em their fine face disclose,
Ye Lilies with your snowy Tresses now
Come forth, this is the proper time for Snow.
Deaf to the call, none of 'em all appear,
But close in Bed they lie half dead with fear.
I onely in this Universal dread
Of Nature dare exalt my fearless head;
Winter with thousand several arms prepar'd       300
To be my death, still finds me on my Guard.
Great Umpire of this harmless fray,
If you are fix'd to crown some Plant to Day,
Let all appear and take the Field, let all
Agree to give the chiefest Plant the ball;       [Latin: 300]
Let it in Winter be, though, I desire;
That season does a hardy Chief require.
If any of these tender, dainty Dames
Deck'd with their rich Perfumes and gaudy Names,
Dare but at such a time shew half an Eye,
I'll frankly yield, and strait let fall my plea.
Not a Plant's seen, I'll warrant you; they hate
to gain a Kingdom at so dear a rate;
They fear th'unequal trial to sustain;
None dare appear, but those that fill my train,
And none of these are so ambitious grown,
To stand themselves, but beg for me the Crown.
These numerous hardships I can undergo;
I'll tell you now, fair Judg, what I can do,
My Virtue's both active and passive too.       320
Kings get no fame by conquering at home,
That from some forein vanquish'd Land must come.
If equal to my triumphs, names I bore
And every vanquish'd Foe increast the store,
Old Rome's most haughty Champion I'd defie
With me in Honours, Titles, Names to vie.       [Latin: 320]
I act such wonders, I may safely say
the twelve Herculean labours were mere play.
The spreading Cancer my blest Plant does chase,
And new skins o'r the Leper's monstrous face.
The lingring Quartan-Fever I oblige
To draw his forces off and raise the Siege.
Swimmings i' th'Head that do from vapours come,
I exorcise strait by my Counter-fume.
In every swelling part when Dropsies reign,
I dry the Fen, the standing waters drein.
The Falling sickness too, to wave the rest,
Though sacred that Disease, by some confest.
Why in these Cures thus trifle I my breath?
Death yields to me, the Apoplectick Death.       340
Into each part my Plant new vigour sends,
And quickly makes the Soul and Body friends.
These are great things, you'll say, and yet the rest
That follow, must much greater be confest,
I do compose the minds distracted frame,
A gift the Gods and I alone can claim;
Madmen and Fools are cast beneath my power,
What to my grandeur can the Gods add more? [image]
Who thus can do; the world his Province is,
Cæsar can't boast a larger sway than this.       [Latin: 340]

She spoke; her train with shouts the Area fill'd,
Nay Winter (if you will believe it) smil'd.

Next the gay Spring draws out his warlike bands,
Which to the Scene a grateful shadow lends,
Homer, though well the Grecian Camp he paints,
Wou'd fail, I fear, in mustering up these Plants.
Bright Spring, what various Nations dost thou boast?
The Xerxes of a numerous flowry Host;
Which cou'd (since Flow'rs without due moisture die)
Like his, I fansie, drink whole Rivers dry.       360
His flowry troops made the same stately shew,
Whose painted arms a dazling lustre threw;
Then a gay Flow'r, for shape, the Trumpet nam'd 125
Blew thrice, and with a strenuous voice proclaim'd,
That all but Candidates shou'd quit the place;       [Latin: 360]
First, as they went, bowing with awful grace.

And now the pleasure of the Goddess known,
The Herb, call'd Ragwort, pass'd before the Throne,
A bunchy stalk, and painted Bees she bore
With several foolish fancies on her Flow'r,
Ragwort the Satyrs and Priapus love,
Venus her self and the fair Judg approve. [image] [image] [image]
Dogs-tooth pass'd next, to Ragwort near ally'd,
A faithful friend to Love, and often try'd;
Next Hyacinths, of violet-kind, proceed, [image]
A noble, powerful and a numerous breed,
They wanted courage, though, to keep the place,
Labouring alas! under a late disgrace;
Of noble House themselves they did pretend,
From Ajax bloud directly to descend,       380
The cause in Flora's Court of Chivalry
Was heard, where they fail'd to make out their plea,
They bore no Coat of Arms, nor cou'd they show
Those mournful Notes said from his bloud to flow.       [Latin: 380]
The next akin, a Flow'r, which Greeks of old 126
From Excrements of Birds descended hold,
Which Britain, Nurse of Plants, a milder Clime,
Gentilely calls the Star of Bethlehem.
The Daizy next march'd off in modest wise,
Dreading to wait the issue of the Prize;
Though the Spring don't a trustier party know,
After, before and in the Spring they grow,
Quick in the charge, and in retreating slow.
They dare not venture, though the Sons of Art
The name of Binders to 'em do impart;
They cure all wounds, yet make none; which you grant
Is the true Office of a warlike Plant.
Next spotted Sanicle and Navel-wort.
Though both have signs of bloud, forsake the Court.
Moon-wort goes next born on its reddish stalk,       400
And after that does gently Cranebil walk;
They all gave way; 'tis nat'ral in a Flow'r
More in its form to trust than worth and pow'r;       [Latin: 400]
Nay more than that, the Corn flag quits the Field,
Though made Sword-wise, does to the Tulip yield,
Though, like some Tyrant, rounded with the same,
Yet to affected Empire waves all claim;
How much this Sword-flow'r differs, as to harm,
From those which we on mortal Anvils form!
Nature on this an Unguent has bestow'd,
Which, when ours make it issue, stops the bloud.
Next you might see the gaudy Columbine.
Call'd sometimes Lions-mouth, desert the Scene,
Though of try'd courage, and of high renown,
In other things, curing Diseases, known.
The Sea-gull Flow'r express'd an equal fear,
The Tygers more and prettier spots don't bear;
These Beauty-spots she ought to prize like Gold;
Citron held hers at dearer rates, of old,
The Persian Lily of a ruddy hue;       420       [Latin: 420]
And next the Lily of the Vale, withdrew, [image]
Lilies o' th'Vale such looks and smell retain,
They're fit to furnish Snuff for Gods and Men;
Nor a Plant kinder to the Brain does live;
A glass of Wine does less refreshment give.
Next Periwinkle or the Ladies bow'r
Weakly, and halting crept along the floor.
All kinds of Crow-foot pass'd and bow'd their head,
The worst run wild, the best in Gardens bread;
Day-Lily next, the Root by Hesiod lov'd, [image]
Although not for the chiefest Dish approv'd.
Then came a Flow'r, of a far differing look,
Which on it thy lov'd Name, Adonis, took;
But Celandine, thy genuine offspring stil'd,
They tell us, at the proud Usurper smil'd.
Stock-gillow-flow'r the Years Companion is, [image]
Which the Sun scarce in all his rounds does miss;       [Latin: 440]
Officious Plant! which every month can bring;
But rather wou'd be reckon'd to the Spring.
This pass'd along with a becoming mien,       440
And in her train the Wall-flow'r wou'd be seen.
The constant Marigold next these went out, [image]
And Ladies-slipper fit for Flora's foot.
The goats beard, which each Morn abroad does peep,
But shuts its Flower at Noon, and goes to sleep.
Then Ox-eye did its rowling Eyeball spread,
Such as Joves Wife and Sister had, they said.
Next Viper-grass, full of a milky juice,
Good against Poison, which curst Stepdames use.
Then Hollow-root, cautious and full of fear,
Whiich neither Summers heat, nor cold can bear,
Comes after Spring, before it does retire.
Then Sattin-flower, and Moth-mullein withdraw,
Worthy a noble Title to enjoy.
The Ladies-smock, and Lugwort went their way,
With several more too tedious here to say;       [Latin: 460]
With many an humble Shrub these took their leaves,
To which the Garden entertainment gives;
As Honey-suckle, Rosemary and Broom,
That Broom which does of Spanish Parent come;       460
Both sorts of Pipe-tree; neat in either dress,
White or sky-colour'd, whether please you best;
Next, the round-headed Elder-rose, which wears
A Constellation of your little stars;
The Cherry; ours and Persian Apple add
Proud of the various Flowers adorn'd its head.
Nature has issue, Eunuch-like, deny'd,
But (like them too) by a fine face supply'd.
These and a thousand more were fain to yield,
And left the Candidates to keep the Field.
Each Flower appear'd with all its kindred, drest,
Each in its richest Robes of gaudiest Vest;       [Latin: 480]
The Violet first, Springs Usher, came in view,
From whose sweet Lips these pleasing accents flew.


[125] A Plant of the Tribe of Pseudo-narcissi Juncifolii, from the shape of a Tube in the midst of the Flower, called Trumpets


[126] The vast price of Citron Tables, see Plin. l. 13.


THE Ram now ope the golden Portal throws, 127
Which holds the various seasons of the Year,
And on his shining Fleece the Spring does bear,
Ye Mortals, with a shout salute him as he goes.
(Io Triumph!) now now the Spring comes on
In solemn state and high Procession,       480
Whilst I; the beauteous Violet, still before him go
And usher in the gaudy show; [image]
As it becomes the Child of such a Sire,
I'm wrap'd in Purple, the first-born of Spring,
The marks of my Legitimation bring,
And all the tokens of his verdant Empire wear.
Clad like a Princely Babe, and born in State,
I all your Regal Titles hate,
Nor priding in my bloud and mighty birth
Unnatural Plant, despise the lap of mother Earth.
Loves Goddess smiles upon me just new-born,
Rejoycing at the Years return.
The Swallow is not a more certain sign
That Love and warm Embraces now begin.       [Latin: 500]
To the lov'd Babe a thousand kisses
The Goddess gives, a thousand balmy blisses.
Besides, my purple Lips
In sacred Nectar dips;
Hence 'tis, no sooner does the Violet burst,
By the warm Air to a just ripeness nurst,       500
But from my opening, blooming Head
A thousand fragrant Odours spread.
I do not only please the smell,
And the most critick tast beguile,
Not onely with my pretty die
Impose a Cheat upon the Eye;
But more for profit than for pleasure born
I furnish out a wholesom juice,
Which the fam'd Epicurus did not scorn
Upon a time, when sick to use.
O'er pressing and vexatious pain,
I such a silent Vict'ry gain,       [Latin: 520]
That though the Body be the Scene,
It scarcely knows whether a fight has been.
The Fevers well-known Valor I invade,
Which blushes with mere rage to yield
To one that ne'er knew how to tread a Field,
But onely was for sights and Nuptial Banquets made.
It yields, but in a grumbling way,
Just as the winds obedience pay,       520
When Neptune from the Floud does peep
And silences these troublers of the deep.
What though some Flowers a greater courage know,
Or a much finer face can show,
That does but still the fansie feed,
Whilst I for business fit, in real worth exceed.
Search over all the Globe, you'll find,
The Glory of a Princely Flower
Consists not in tyrannick Power,
But in a Majesty with mildness join'd.
She spoke; and from her balmy Lips did come
A sweet Perfume that scented all the Room.       [Latin: 540]
The smell so long continued, that you'd swear
The Violet, though you heard no sound, was there.
Quitting the Stage; the next that took her place,
Were Ox-lips, Pugles with their numerous Race;
A parti-colour'd Tribe, of various hue,
Red, yellow, purple, pale, white, dusky, blew.
The Primrose and the Cowslip too were there,
Both of 'em kin, but not so handsom far;       540
Bears-ear, so call'd, did the whole Party head,
And yellow, claiming merit, needs wou'd plead.
Tossing her hundred Heads in slanting rate,
Each had a Mouth, and cou'd at pleasure prate.


[127] The sign Aries.

Auricula Ursi. BEARS-EAR.

GReat Queen of Flow'rs, why is thy snowy Breast,
With such a sight of various Posies drest!
Whereas one stalk of mine
Alone a Nosegay is, alone can make thee fine;
A lovely, harmless Monster, I
Gorgon's many Heads outvie;
Others, as single Stars, may Glory beam;       [Latin: 560]
Take me, for I a Constellation am;
Let those who Subjects want, pursue the flowry Crown,
A flowry Nation, I, alone;
Nor did kind Nature thus in vain,
So many Heads to me assign;
I for Mans Head, Lifes chiefest seat
Am set apart and wholly consecrate.
The minds Imperial Tow'r, the brain,
(A pooor Apartment for so great a Queen)       560
The Light-house where Mans Reason stands and shines,
Maugre the malice of contending winds,
I guard the sacred Place, repel the Rout,
And keep the everlasting Fire from going out.
Go now, and mock me with this monstrous Name
Which the late barbarous Age did coin and frame,
The true and proper names of things, of old,
Through a Religious silence ne'r were told.
Thus Guardian Gods true names were seldom known,
Lest some invading Foe might charm 'em from the Town.
Impudent Fool! that first stil'd beauteous Flowers       [Latin: 580]
By a detested Name; the Ears of Bears.
Worthy himself of Asses Ears, a pair,
Fairer than Midas once was said to wear. [image]
At this rate singing (for your merry Flowers
Still sing their words, not bring 'em forth like ours)
The Daffadil succeeded, once a Youth,
(As any Poets tell, a sacred truth.)
And all his Clients and his kindred came,
A numerous train, to vote and poll for him;       580
All of 'em pale or yellow did appear,
The Livery which wounded Lovers wear.
Though Virgil purple Honours has assign'd
And blewish dy, too liberal and kind,
The Chalcedonick with white Flower thought best
To be the Mouth, and sing for all the rest.

DAFFADIL. -- Narcissus.

[image] [image]
WHat once I was, a Boy, not ripen'd to a Man, [image]
My roots of one years growth explain,
A lovely Boy, of killing Eyes [image]       [Latin: 600]
Where ambuscading witchcraft lies,
Which did at last the Owners self surprize.
Of fatal Beauty, such as cou'd inspire
Love into coldest Breasts, in water kindle fire.
Me the hot beds of Sand in Libya burn,
Or Ister's frozen Banks to raine turn.
I, when a Boy, among the boys
Had still the noblest place,
The same my Plant among the Flow'rs enjoys,
And is the Gardens Ornament and grace.
Become a Flower, I cannot tell       600
Why my face shou'd not please me still;
Downwards I lean my bending Head
Longing my looks in the same Glass to read;
Shew me a stream, that liquid Glass
Will put me in the self same case;
In th'colour with the same Nymphs I am drest,       [Latin: 620]
Who wear me in their snowy Breast;
Who with my Flowers their pride maintain,
And wish I were a Boy again.
She spoke; Anemone her station took,
To whom the Goddess deign'd a smiling look;
For with the Tulip's leave, I needs must say
No Race more numerous, none more fine or gay;
The Purple with its large and spreading Leaf 128
Was chosen by consent to be their Chief.
Of fair Adonis bloud's undoubted strain,
And to this hour it shews the dying stain;
As soon as Zephyr had unloos'd its Tongue 129
The beauteous Plant after this manner sung.


[128] 'Tis fabled to have sprung, out of Adonis's bloud.


[129] Its Flower never opens but when the Wind blows, Plin. 21.23.


THOU gentle Zephyr, who didst Flora wed       620
Thrice worthy of the Goddess bed;
Who in a winged Chariot hurl'd
With breezing Airs dost fan this nether world,
Which kind refreshing motion, far
I before lazy rest prefer;
That Air with which thou every thing dost cheer,
Inspire into the Goddess Ear;
That the fair Judg would mindful be
Of her lov'd Consort and of me;       [Latin: 640]
For since I take my Name from thee,
Nay of thy Kindred said to be;
Since I with thee do sympathize
Who in Æolian Dungeon Captive lies,
And viewing Zephyr's doleful state,
All Dress and Ornament I hate,
And locking up my mournful Flower,
My self a Pris'ner make, the same restraint endure.
Since I have change of Suits and gaudy Vests,
Which in my various Flowers are exprest;
In brief, since I'm akin to Gods above;       640
All these together sure may favour move;
Sprung from the fair Adonis purple tide
And Venus tears, to both I am ally'd; [image] [image] [image]
The Rosy Youth, the lov'd Adonis stood
The pride and glory of the Wood,
Till a Boars fatal tusk let out the precious bloud. |       [Latin: 660]
Into each flowing drop that still'd
A falling tear the Goddess spill'd,
Which to a bloudy torrent swell'd.
The Lovers tears and bloud combine
As if they wou'd in Marriage join;
From such fair Parents, and that wedding morn
Was I, their fairer off-spring, born.
My force and power perhaps you question now,
My Power? Why, I a handsom face can show;
Besides, my heavenly Extract I can prove,
And that I'm Sister to the God of Love.

The Crown Imperial (as she step'd aside)
Advanc'd with stately, but becoming pride,
Not buskin'd Heroes strut with nobler pride,       660
Nor Gods in walking use a finer stride:
No Friends or Clients made her Train, not one;
Conscious of native worth, she came alone.
With an erect and sober Countenance 130
In following terms she did her Plea commence.       [Latin: 680]


[130] The most noble Flow'r, to the sight, that grows. Lauremberg.


WITH furious heats and unbecoming rage
Ye flowry Nations cease t'engage;
Since on my stately Stem
Nature has plac'd th'Imperial Diadem;
Why all these words in vain, why all this noise?
Be judg'd by Nature and approve her choice.
Perhaps it does your envy move,
And to my right may hurtful prove,
That I an upstart Novel Flower am
Who have no rumbling hard Greek name;
Perhaps I may be thought
In some Plebeian bed begot,
Because my Lineage wears no stain,
Nor does Romantick shameful Stories feign
That I am sprung from Jove, or from his
bastard strain.       680
I freely own, I have not been
Long of your world a Denizen;
But yet I reign'd for Ages past
In Persia and in Bactria plac'd,       [Latin: 700]
The pride and joy of all the Gardens of the East.
My Flower a large-siz'd golden head does wear,
Much like the Ball Kings in their hands do bear,
Denoting Sovereign Rule and striking Fear.
My purple stalk, I, like some Scepter wield,
Worthy in Regal hands to shine,
Worthy of thine, great God of Wine,
When India to thy conquering Arms did yield.
Besides all this; I have a flowry Crown
My Royal Temples to adorn,
Whose buds a sort of Hony liquor bear,
Which round the Crown, like Stars or Pearls appear;
Silver threads around it twine,
Saffron, like Gold, with them does join;
And over All
My verdant Hair does neatly fall.       700
Sometimes, a threefold rank of Flowers
Grows on my top, like lofty Towers.
Imperial Ornaments I scorn,
And, like the Pope, affect a triple Crown;       [Latin: 720]
The Heavens look down and envy Earth
For teeming with so bright a Birth;
For Ariadnes starry crown
By mine is far out-done,
And as they've Reason, let 'em envy on.
She thunder'd out her Speech; and walk'd to greet
The Judg, not falling meanly at her feet,
But as one Goddess does another meet.
A flower that wou'd too happy be and blest,
Did but its Odour answer all the rest!
The Tulip next appear'd, all over gay,
But wanton, full of pride, and full of play;
The world can't shew a Dye, but here has place,
Nay by new mixtures she can change her face.
Purple and Gold are both beneath her care,
The richest Needlework she loves to wear;       720
Her onely study is to please the Eye,
And to outshine the rest in Finery;
Oft of a Mode or Colour weary grown
By which their Family had long been known,       [Latin: 740]
They'll change their fashion strait, I know not how,
And with much pain in other Colours go;
As if Medea's Furnace they had past; [image]
(She without Plants old Æson ne'r new-cast)
And though they know this change will mortal prove
They'll venture yet -- to change so much they love.
Such love to Beauty, such the thirst of praise,
That welcome Death before inglorious days!
The cause by all was to the white assign'd,
Whether because the rarest of the kind,
Or else because every Petitioner 131
In antient times, for Office, white did wear.


[131] Thence such were are are still call'd Candidates.


[image] [image]
SOmewhere in Horace, if I don't forget, 132
(Flowers are no foes to Poetry and Wit;
For us that Tribe the like affection bear,
And of all Men the greatest Florists are)       740
We find a wealthy man
Whose Ward-robe did five thousand Suits contain;
He counted that a vast prodigious store,
But I that number have twice told and more.       [Latin: 760]
Whate'r in Spring the teeming Earth commands;
What Colours e'r the painted pride of Birds,
Or various Lights the glistering Gem affords
Cut by the artful Lapidary's hands;
Whate'r the Curtains of the Heavens can show,
Or Light lays Dyes upon the varnish'd Bow,
Rob'd in as many Vests I shine,
In every thing bearing a Princely Mien.
Pity I must the Lily and the Rose
(And the last blushes at her threadbare Clothes)
Who think themselves so highly blest,
Yet have but one poor tatter'd Vest.
These studious, unambitious things, in brief,
Wou'd fit extreamly well a College-life,
And when the God of Flowers a Charter grants
Admission shall be given to these Plants;       760
Kings shou'd have plenty, and superfluous store,
Whilst thriftiness becomes the poor.       [Latin: 780]
Hence Spring himself does chiefly me regard:
Will any Flower refuse to stand to his award?
Me for whole Months he does retain
And keeps me by him all his Reign;
Caress'd by Spring, the season of the year,
Which before all to Love is dear.
Besides; the God of Love himself's my friend,
Not for my Face alone; but for another end.
Lov'd by the God upon a private score,
I know for what -- but say no more;
But why shou'd I,
Become so silent or so shy?
We Flow'rs were by no peevish Sire begot,
Nor from that frigid, sullen Tree did sprout,
So famed in Ceres sacred Rites; [image]
Nor in moroseness Flora's self delights.
My Root, like Oil in antient Games, prepares 133
Lovers for Battle or those softer wars;       780
My quickning heat their sluggish veins inspires
With vigorous and sprightly fires;       [Latin: 800]
Had but chast Lucrece us'd the same,
The night before bold Tarquin try'd his flame,
Upon Record she ne'r a Fool had been,
But wou'd have liv'd to reap the pleasure once again.
The Goddess conscious of the truth, a while
Contain'd, but then was seen to blush and smile.
The Flower-de Luce next loos'd her heavenly Tongue;
And thus, amidst her sweet Companions, sung.


[132] Horat. lib. I. Ep. 6.


[133] Lauremberg. Gerard, Parkinson.

Iris, or the FLOWER-DE-LUCE.

IF Empire is to Beauty due
(And that in flowers, if anywhere, holds true)
Then I by Nature was design'd for Reign;
Else Nature made a beauteous Face in vain.
Besides, I boast a sparkling Gem,
And brighter Goddess of my Name.
My lofty front toward the Heaven I bear,
And represent the Sky, when 'tis serene and clear.
To me a Godlike Power is given
With a mild face resembling Heaven;       800
And in the Kingly stile, no Dignity
Sounds better than SERENITY;
Beauty and Envy oft together go,       [Latin: 820]
Handsom my self, I help make others so; 134
Both Gods and Men of the most curious Eyes
With secret pleasure I surprise;
Nor do I less oblige the Nose,
With fragrance from my Root that blows.
Not Sibaris or soft Capua did know
A choicer Flower for smell or show,
Though both with pleasure of all kinds did flow.
I own, the Violet and the Rose
Divinest Odours both disclose;
The Saffron and Stock Gilloflower.
With many more;
But yet none can so sweet a root produce. 135
My upper parts are trim and fair,       [Latin: 840]
My lower breath a grateful Air,
I am a Flower for sight, a Drug for use.
Soft as I am, amidst this luxury,       820
Before me rough Diseases fly.
Thus a bold Amazon with Virgin face
Troops of dastard Men will chase.
Thus Mars and Venus often greet,
And in single Pallas meet:
Equal to her in Beauties charms
And not to him inferior in Arms.
By secret Virtue and resistless power
Those whom the Jaundice seizes I restore; 136
Though moist with Unguent, and inclin'd to love,
I rather was for Luxury design'd,
And yet like some enraged Lioness
Before my painted Arms the yellow foe does hast.
The Dropsie headlong makes away
As soon as I my Arms display;       [Latin: 860]
The Dropsie, which Mans Microcosm drowns
Pulling up all the Sluces in its rounds,
I follow it through every winding vein,
And make it quit in hast the delug'd Man.
The Nation of the Jews, a pious folk,       840
Though our Gods they don't invoke;
And not to You, ye Plants, unknown
I' th'days of that great Flowrist Salomon.
Tell us, that Jove to cheer the drooping Ball
After the Floud, a Promise past,
How that so long as Earth shou'd last,
No future Deluge on the world shou'd fall. [image]
And as a Seal to this obliging Grant,
The Rain-bow in the Sky did plant;
I am that Bow, in poor Hydropick Man,
The same refreshing hopes contain.
I look as gay, and show as fine,
I am the Thing, of which that onely is the Sign.
My Plant performs the same
Towards Mans little worldly frame;
And when within him I appear,
He need no Deluge from a Dropsie fear.
The Peony then, with large red Flower came on, 137
And brought no train, but his lov'd Mate alone;       [Latin: 880]
Numbers cou'd not make him the cause espouse,       860
Nor did her costly wardrobe Pride inspire,
All dress'd alike, all did one colour wear.
And yet he wanted not for Majesty,
Appearing with a sober gravity.
For He advanc'd his purple forehead, which
A Flower with thousand foldings did enrich:
Some love to call it the Illustrious Plant.
And we may well, I think, that Title grant;
Physicians in their publick Writings show,
What praise is to the first Inventor due.
Pæon was Doctor to the Gods, they say, 138
By the whole College honour'd to this day.
With her own merits, and this mighty Name
Hearten'd and buoy'd, she thus maintain'd her Claim.


[134] The juice of the Root takes away Freckles and Morphews.


[135] Of the Root is made, that call'd Powder of Cyprus, or Orris Powder.


[136] Its faculty in curing these Diseases, is celebrated by Laurember, Fernelius, etc.


[137] The Peony male and female.


[138] Homer says, Pæon cur'd Pluto with this Plant, when he was wounded by Hercules.

Pæonia. The PEONY.

[image] [image]
IF the fond Tulip, swell'd with pride,
In her Fools-coat of motley colours dy'd;
If lov'd Adonis Flower, the Celandine.       [Latin: 900]
Wou'd proudly be prefer'd to mine;
Then let Joves Bird, the Eagle quit the Field,
The Thunder to the painted Peacock yield:       880
Then let the Tyrant of the Woods be gone,
The Lion yield to the Chameleon.
You'll say perhaps the Nymphs make much of you,
They gather me for Garlands too.
And yet d' ye think I value that?
Not I, by Flora, not a jot.
Virtue and courage are the valuable things,
On difficult occasions shown.
Not painted Arms ennoble Kings,
Virtue alone gives lustre to a Crown.
Hence I, the known Herculean Disease
The Falling Sickness, cure with ease,
Which, like the Club, that Hero once did wear,
Down with one single blow mankind does bear.
I fansie, hense the story rise,
That Pluto wounded once by Hercules.
My juice, infus'd by Pæon, gave him ease,       [Latin: 920]
And did the groaning God appease.
Pæon was fam'd, I'm sure, for curing this disease.
Pluto is God of Hell, 't shou'd seem       900
Prince of inexorable Death;
Now this Disease is Death; but not like him
Without a sting, plac'd in the Shades beneath.
I shou'd be vain, extreamly vain, indeed
A quarrel on Punctilio's to breed,
Since a more noble Flower, than I,
The Sun in all his journey does not spy.
Nor do I go in Physick's beaten Road
By other Plants before me trod,
But in a way worthy a healing God.

I never with the foe come hand to hand.
My Odour Death does at a distance send;
Hung round the Neck strait without more ado       [Latin: 940]
I put to fight the rampant foe;
I neither come (what think you, Cesar, now)
Nor view the Camp, and yet can overthrow.
She spoke, and bow'd, and so the Court forsook,
Her Consort follow'd with a blushing look;
When strait a fragrant Air of strong Perfume,
And a new lustre darted through the Room.       920
No wonder, for the Rose did next appear,
Spring wisely plac'd his best and choicest troops i' th'Rear.
Some wild in woods; yet worth and beauty show,
Such as might in Hesperian Gardens grow.
Nought, by experience, than the Wood-Rose found,
Better to cure a mad Dogs poisonous wound;
This brings away the Gravel and the Stone,
And gives you ease though to a Quarry grown.
The beauteous Garden-Rose she did not shame,
Though better bred and of a softer Name;
Which in four Squadrons drawn, the Damask Rose
In name of all the rest maintain'd the Cause;       [Latin: 960]
Which sprung, they say, from Syrian Venus bloud, 139 [image]
Long time the pride of rich Damascus floud. [image]


[139] The Rose is said at first to have grown white only, till Venus running after Adonis, scratch'd her Legs upon its thorns, and stain'd the flowers red with her bloud.


AND who can doubt my Race, says she, [image] [image]
Who on my face Love's tokens see?
The God of Love is always soft, and always young,
I am the same, then to his bloud what wrong?
My Brother wingèd does appear;
I leaves instead of wings do wear;       940
He's drawn with lighted Torches in his hand;
Upon my top bright flaming glories stand;
The Rose has prickles, so has Love,
Though these a little sharper prove;
There's nothing in the world above, or this below,       [Latin: 980]
But would for Rosy-colour'd go;
This is the Dye that still does please
Both mortal Maids, and heavenly Goddesses;
I am the Standard by which Beauty's try'd,
The wish of Chloe, and immortal Juno's pride.
The bright Aurora, Queen of all the East.
Proud of her Rosy fingers, is confest;
When from the gates of LIght the rising Day
Breaks forth, his constant rounds to go,
The winged hours prepare the way,
And Rosy Clouds before him strow.
The windows of the Sky with Roses shine;
I am Days Ornament as well as sign.
And when the glorious pomp and tour is o'er,
I greet it posting to the Western shore.       960
The God of Love, we must allow,       [Latin: 1000]
Shou'd tolerably Beauty know.
Yet never from those Cheeks he goes,
Where he can spy the blushing Rose.
Thus the wise Bee will never dwell
(That, like the God of Love has wings,
That too has Honey, that has stings)
On vulgar Flowers that have no grateful smell.
Tell me, blest Lover: what's a kiss
Without a Rosy Lip create the bliss?
Nor do I onely charming sweets dispence,
But bear Arms in my own and Mans defence.
I without the Patient's pain
Mans body, that Augean Stable clean.
Not with a rough and pressing hand,
As Thunder-storms from Clouds command,
But as the dew and gentle flowers
Dissolving light on Herbs and Flowers.
Nor of a short and fading date       [Latin: 1020]
Was I the less design'd for Rule and State;       980
Let proud ambitious Floramour 140
Usurping on the Gods immortal Name,
Joy to be stil'd the Everlasting Flower.
I ne'r knew yet that Plant that near to Nestor came.
We too too blest, too powerful shou'd be grown,
Which wou'd but Envy raise,
If we cou'd say our beauty were our own,
Or boast long life and many days.
But why shou'd I complain of Fate
For giving me so short a date?
Since Flowers, the Emblems of Mortality,
All the same way and manner die.
But the kind Gods above forbid,
That Virtue e'er a Grave shou'd find,
And though the fatal Sisters cut my thread,
My Odour, like the Soul, remains behind.
To a dead Lion a live Worm's prefer'd,       [Latin: 1040]
Though once the King of all the savage Herd.
After my Death I still excel
The best of Flowers that are alive and well.       1000
If that the name of Dead will bear,
From whose meer Corps does come,
(Like the dead bodies still surviving Hale)
So sweet a smell and strong Perfume.
Let 'em invent a thousand ways
My mangled Corps to vex and squeeze, [image]
Though in a sweating Limbeck pent
My Ashes still preserve their scent.
Like a dead Monarch to the Grave I come, [image]
Nature embalms me in my own Perfume.
She spoke, a Virgin blush came o'r her face,
And an Ambrosian scent flew round the place;
But that which gave her words a finer grace,
Not without some constraint she seem'd to tell her praise.
Her Rivals trembled; for the Judge's look       [Latin: 1060]
A secret pleasure and much kindness spoke; [image]
The Virgin did not for well-wishers lack,
Her kind red Squadrons stood behind her back.
The yellow nearest stood, unfit for war,
Nor did the spoils of cur'd Diseases bear;       1020
The white was next, of great and good renown,
A kind assistant to the Eye-sight known;
The third, a mighty Warrier, was the Red,
Which terribly her bloudy Banner spread;
She binds the Flux with her restringent Arts,
And stops the humours journey to those parts;
She brings a present and a sure relief
To Head and Heart, the Fountains both of Life;
The Fevers fires by her are mildness taught,
And the Hagg'd Man to sweet composure brought.
By help of this, Jason of old, we read, [image]
Yok'd and subdu'd the Bulls of fiery breed;
One Dose to sleep the watchful Dragon sent,       [Latin: 1080]
By which no more but a high Fever's meant.
Between this Squadron and the White, we're told,
A long and grievous strife commenc'd of old;
Strife is too soft a word for many years
Cruel, unnatural, and bloudy wars;
The fam'd Pharsalian fields twice dy'd in bloud,
Ne'r of a nobler Quarrel witness stood;       1040
The thirst of Empire, ground of most our wars,
Was that which solely did occasion theirs;
For the Red Rose cou'd not an Equal bear,
And the White wou'd of no Superiour hear,
The Chief by York and Lancaster upheld 141
With civil rage harass'd the British field.
What madness drew ye Roses to engage,
Kin against kin to spend your thorns and rage!
Go, turn your Arms, where you may triumph gain,
And fame unsullied with a blushing stain;
See the French Lily spoils and wasts your shore,
Go conquer there, where you've twice beat before.
Whilst the Scotch Thistle with audacious pride,
Taking advantage, gores your bleeding side.       [Latin: 1100]
Do Roses no more sense and prudence own
Than to be fighting for Domestick Crown?
From Venus You much of the Mother bear,
You both take pleasure in the God of War; [image]
I now begin to think the Fable true,
That Mars sprung from a Flower, fulfill'd by You.       1060
War ravages the Field, and like the furious Boar,
That turns up all the Gardens beauteous store; [image] [image] [image]
O'rthrows the Trees and Hedges, and does wound
With his ungentle tusk the bleeding ground;
Roots up the Saffron and the Violet-bed.
And feasts upon the gaudy Tulip's head.
You'd grieve to see a beauteous Plat so soon
Into confusion by a Monster thrown.
But oh, my Muse, oh whither doest thou tow'r
This is a flight too high for thee to soar.
The harmless strife of Plants, their wanton play,
Thy Pipe perhaps may well enough essay;
But for their Wars, that is a Theme so great,       [Latin: 1120]
Rather for Lucan's Martial Trumpet fit;
To him that sung the Theban Brothers death,
To Maro or some such, that task bequeath.


[140] Amaranth


[141] The Civil Wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster, of which the first bore the White-Rose, and the other the Red, cost more English bloud, than did twice conquering Franc.


The End of the Third Book.

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