The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

the first Book.

from Poems (1656; editor's copy)

The Proposition. The Invocation. The entrance into the History from a new agreement betwixt Saul and David. A Description of Hell. The Devils Speech. Envys reply to him. Her appearing to Saul in the shape of Benjamin, her Speech and Sauls to himself after she was vanisht. A Description of Heaven. Gods Speech: he sends an Angel to David, the Angels Message to him. David sent for to play before Saul. A Digression concerning Musick. Davids Psalm. Saul attempts to kill him. His escape to his own house, from whence being pursued by the Kings Guard, by the artifice of his Wife Michol he escapes, and flies to Naioh, the Prophets Colledge at Ramah. Sauls speech, and rage at his escape. A long Digression describing the Prophets Colledge, and their manner of life there, and the ordinary subjects of their Poetry. Sauls Guards pursue David thither, and prophesie. Saul among the Prophets. He is compared to Balaam, whose Song concludes the Book.

1,2  I sing the Man who Judahs Scepter bore
    In that right hand which held the Crook before;
    Who from best Poet, best of Kings did grow;
    The two chief gifts Heav'n could on Man bestow.
    Much danger first, much toil did he sustain,
    Whilst Saul and Hell crost his strong fate in vain.
    Nor did his Crown less painful work afford;
    Less exercise his Patience, or his Sword;
    So long her Conque'ror Fortunes spight pursu'd;
    Till with unwearied Virtue he subdu'd      10
    All homebred Malice, and all forreign boasts;
    Their strength was Armies, his the Lord of Hosts.
    Thou, who didst Davids royal stem adorn,
Joh. 8. 58.
    And gav'st him birth from whom thy self was't born.
    Who didst in Triumph at Deaths Court appear,
    And slew'st him with thy Nails, thy Cross and Spear,
    Whilst Hells black Tyrant trembled to behold,
    The glorious light he forfeited of old,
    Who Heav'ns glad burden now, and justest pride,
    Sit'st high enthron'd next thy great Fathers side,      20
    (Where hallowed Flames help to adorn that Head
    Which once the blushing Thorns environed,
    Till crimson drops of precious blood hung down
    Like Rubies to enrich thine humble Crown.)
    Ev'en Thou my breast with such blest rage inspire,
    As mov'd the tuneful strings of Davids Lyre,
    Guid my bold steps with thine old trav'elling Flame,
3    In these untrodden paths to Sacred Fame;
    Lo, with pure hands thy heav'enly Fires to take,
    My well-chang'd Muse I a chast Vestal make!      30
    From earths vain joys, and loves soft witchcraft free,
    I consecrate my Magdalene to Thee!
    Lo, this great work, a Temple to thy praise,
    On polisht Pillars of strong Verse I raise!
    A Temple, where if Thou vouchsafe to dwell,
4    It Solomons, and Herods shall excel.
    Too long the Muses-Land have Heathen bin;
    Their Gods too long were Dev'ils, and Vertues Sin;
    But Thou, Eternal Word, hast call'd forth Me
5    Th' Apostle, to convert that World to Thee;      40
    T' unbind the charms that in slight Fables lie,
    And teach that Truth is truest Poesie.
    The malice now of jealous Saul grew less,
    O'recome by constant Virtue, and Success;
6    He grew at last more weary to command
    New dangers, than young David to withstand
    Or Conquer them; he fear'd his mastring Fate,
    And envy'd him a Kings unpowerful Hate.
    Well did he know how Palms by 'oppression speed,
7    Victorious, and the Victors sacred Meed!      50
    The Burden lifts them higher. Well did he know,
    How a tame stream does wild and dangerous grow
    By unjust force; he now with wanton play,
    Kisses the smiling Banks, and glides away,
    But his known Channel stopt, begins to roare,
8    And swell with rage, and buffet the dull shore.
    His mutinous waters hurry to the War,
    And Troops of Waves come rolling from afar.
    Then scorns he such weak stops to his free source,
    And overruns the neighboring fields with violent course.      60
    This knew the Tyrant, and this useful thought
    His wounded mind to health and temper brought.
    He old kind vows to David did renew,
    Swore constancy, and meant his oath for true.
    A general joy at this glad news appear'd,
    For David all men lov'd, and Saul they fear'd.
    Angels and Men did Peace, and David love,
    But Hell did neither Him, nor That approve;
    From mans agreement fierce Alarms they take;
    And Quiet here, does there new Business make.      70
    Beneath the silent chambers of the earth,
    Where the Suns fruitful beams give metals birth,
    Where he the growth of fatal Gold does see,
    Gold which above more Influence has than He.
9    Beneath the dens where unfletcht Tempests lye,
    And infant Winds their tender Voyces try,
    Beneath the mighty Oceans wealthy Caves,
10    Beneath th' eternal Fountain of all Waves,
    Where their vast Court the Mother-waters keep,
    And undisturb'd by Moons in silence sleep,      80
    There is a place deep, wondrous deep below,
    Which genuine Night and Horrour does o'reflow;
11    No bound controls th' unwearied space, but Hell
    Endless as those dire pains that in it dwell.
    Here no dear glimpse of the Suns lovely face,
    Strikes through the Solid darkness of the place;
    No dawning Morn does her kind reds display;
    One slight weak beam would here be thought the Day.
    No gentle stars with their fair Gems of Light
    Offend the tyr'anous and unquestion'd Night.      90
    Here Lucifer the mighty Captive reigns;
    Proud, 'midst his Woes, and Tyrant in his Chains.
    Once General of a guilded Host of Sprights,
    Like Hesper, leading forth the spangled Nights.
    But down like Lightning, which him struck, he came;
    And roar'd at his first plunge into the Flame.
    Myriads of Spirits fell wounded round him there;
    With dropping Lights thick shone the singed Air.
    Since when the dismal Solace of their wo,
    Has only been weak Mankind to undo;      100
    Themselves at first against themselves they 'excite,
    (Their dearest Conquest, and most proud delight)
    And if those Mines of secret Treason fail,
    With open force mans Vertue they assail;
    Unable to corrupt, seek to destroy;
    And where their Poysons miss, the Sword employ.
    Thus sought the Tyrant Fiend young Davids fall;
    And 'gainst him arm'd the pow'erful rage of Saul.
    He saw the beauties of his shape and face,
    His female sweetness, and his manly grace,      110
1 Sam. 16. 12.
    He saw the nobler wonders of his Mind,
    Great Gifts, which for Great Works he knew design'd.
    He saw (t' ashame the strength of Man and Hell)
1 Sam. 17.
    How by's young hands their Gathite Champion fell.
    He saw the reverend Prophet boldly shed
12    The Royal Drops round his Enlarged Head.
1 Sam. 16. 13.
13    And well he knew what Legacy did place,
Gen. 49. 10.
    The sacred Scepter in blest Judahs race,
    From which th' Eternal Shilo was to spring;
    A Knowledge which new Hells to Hell did bring!      120
    And though no less he knew himself too weak
    The smallest Link of strong-wrought Fate to break;
    Yet would he rage, and struggle with the Chain;
    Lov'd to Rebel though sure that 'twas in vain.
    And now it broke his form'd design, to find
    The gentle change of Sauls recov'ering Mind.
    He trusted much in Saul, and rag'ed, and griev'd
    (The great Deceiver) to be Himself Deceiv'd.
    Thrice did he knock his Iron teeth, thrice howl,
    And into frowns his wrathful forehead rowl.      130
    His eyes dart forth red flames which scare the Night,
    And with worse Fires the trembling Ghosts affright.
    A Troop of gastly Fiends compass him round,
    And greedily catch at his lips fear'd sound.
    Are we such Nothings then (said He) Our will
    Crost by a Shepherds Boy? and you yet still
    Play with your idle Serpents here? dares none
    Attempt what becomes Furies? are ye grown
    Benum'd with Fear, or Vertues sprightless cold,
    You, who were once (I'm sure) so brave and bold?      140
    Oh my ill-chang'd condition! oh my fate!
14    Did I lose Heav'en for this?
    With that, with his long tail he lasht his breast,
    And horribly spoke out in Looks the rest.
    The quaking Pow'ers of Night stood in amaze,
    And at each other first could only gaze.
    A dreadful Silence fill'd the hollow place,
    Doubling the native terrour of Hells face;
    Rivers of flaming Brimstone, which before
    So loudly rag'd, crept softly by the shore;      150
    No hiss of Snakes, no clanck of Chains was known,
    The Souls amidst their Tortures durst not groan.
    Envy at last crawls forth from that dire throng,
    Of all the direful'st; her black locks hung long,
    Attir'd with curling Serpents; her pale skin
    Was almost dropt from the sharp bones within,
    And at her breast stuck Vipers which did prey
    Upon her panting heart, both night and day
    Sucking black bloud from thence, which to repair
    Both night and day they left fresh poysons there.      160
    Her garments were deep stain'd in humane gore,
    And torn by her own hands, in which she bore
    A knotted whip, and bowl, that to the brim
    Did with green gall, and juice of wormwood swim.
    With which when she was drunk, she furious grew
    And lasht herself; thus from th' accursed crew,
    Envy, the worst of Fiends, herself presents,
    Envy, good only when she herself torments.
    Spend not, great King, thy precious rage (said she)
    Upon so poor a cause; shall Mighty We      170
    The glory of our wrath to him afford?
    Are We not Furies still? and you our Lord?
    At thy dread anger the fixt World shall shake,
    And frighted Nature her own Laws forsake.
    Do Thou but threat, loud storms shall make reply,
    And Thunder eccho't to the trembling Sky,
    Whilst raging Seas swell to so bold an height,
    As shall the Fires proud Element affright.
    Th' old drudging Sun from his long-beaten way,
    Shall at thy Voice start, and misguide the day.      180
    The jocond Orbs shall break their measur'd pace,
    And stubborn Poles change their allotted place.
    Heav'ens guilded Troops shall flutter here and there,
    Leaving their boasting Songs tun'd to a Sphere;
15    Nay their God too--for fear he did, when We
    Took noble Arms against his Tyrannie,
    So noble Arms, and in a Cause so great,
    That Triumphs they deserve for their Defeat.
    There was a Day! oh might I see't again
    Though he had fiercer Flames to thrust us in!      190
    And can such pow'rs be by a Child withstood?
    Will Slings, alas, or Pebles do him good?
    What th' untam'd Lyon, whet with hunger too,
    And Gyants could not, that my Word shall do:
    I'll soon dissolve this Peace; were Sauls new Love
    (But Saul we know) great as my Hate shall prove,
    Before their Sun twice be gone about,
    I, and my faithful Snakes would drive it out.
16    By Me Cain offer'd up his Brothers gore,
Gen. 4. 8.
    A Sacrifice far worse than that before;      200
    I saw him fling the stone, as if he meant,
    At once his Murder and his Monument,
    And laught to see (for 'twas a goodly show)
    The Earth by her first Tiller fatned so.
Ib. v. 2. Exod. 14. 23.
    I drove proud Pharaoh to the parted Sea;
    He, and his Host drank up cold death by Me;
    By Me rebellious Arms fierce Corah took,
    And Moses (curse upon that Name!) forsook;
Num. 16. 1.
17    Hither (ye know) almost alive he came
Ib. 31.
    Through the cleft Earth; Ours was his Fun'eral Flame.      210
    By Me--but I lose time, methinks, and should
    Perform new acts whilst I relate the old;
    David's the next our fury must enjoy;
    'Tis not thy God himself shall save thee, Boy;
    No, if he do, may the whole World have Peace;
    May all ill Actions, all ill Fortune cease,
    And banisht from this potent Court below,
    May I a ragged, contemn'd Vertue grow.
    She spoke; all star'ed at first, and made a pause;
    But strait the general murmur of applause      220
    Ran through Deaths Courts; she frown'd still, and begun
    To envy at the praise herself had won.
18    Great Belzebub starts from his burning Throne
    To' embrace the Fiend, but she now furious grown
    To act her part; thrice bow'd, and thence she fled;
    The Snakes all hist, the Fiends all murmured.
    It was the time when silent night began
    T'enchain with sleep the busie spirits of Man;
    And Saul himself, though in his troubled breast
    The weight of Empire lay, took gentle rest:      230
    So did not Envy; but with haste arose;
    And as through Israels stately Towns she goes,
    She frowns and shakes her head; shine on (says she)
    Ruines e're long shall your sole Mon'uments be.
    The silver Moon with terrour paler grew,
    And neighbring Hermon sweated flowry dew;
    Swift Jordan started, and straight backward fled,
    Hiding among thick reeds his aged head;
19    Lo, at her entrance Sauls strong Palace shook;
    And nimbly there the reverend shape she took      240
    Of Father Benjamin; so long her beard,
    So large her limbs, so grave her looks appear'd.
20    Just like his statue which bestrid Sauls gate,
    And seem'd to guard the race it did create.
    In this known form she approacht the Tyrants side;
    And thus her words the sacred Form bely'd.
    Arise, lost King of Israel; can'st thou lie
    Dead in this sleep, and yet thy Last so nigh?
    If King thou be'est, if Jesses race as yit
    Sit not on Israels Throne! and shall he sit?      250
    Did ye for this from fruitful Egypt fly?
    From the mild Brickhils nobler slavery?
    For this did Seas your pow'erful Rod obey?
    Did Wonders guid, and feed you on your way?
    Could ye not there great Pharaohs bondage beare,
    You who can serve a Boy, and Minstrel here?
    Forbid it God, if thou be'st just; this shame
    Cast not on Sauls, on mine, and Israels Name.
    Why was I else from Canaans Famine lead?      260
    Happy, thrice happy had I there been dead
Gen. 43.
    E're my full Loyns discharg'ed this num'erous race,
    This luckless Tribe, ev'en Crown'd to their Disgrace!
    Ah Saul, thy Servants Vassal must thou live?
    Place to his Harp must thy dread Scepter give?
    What wants he now but that? can'st thou forget
    (If thou be'st man thou can'st not) how they met
    The Youth with Songs? Alas, poor Monarch! you
1. Sam. 18. 7.
    Your thousand onely, he ten thousand slew!
    Him Isra'el loves, him neighbring Countreys fear;
    You but the Name, and empty Title bear;      270
    And yet the Traytor lives, lives in thy Court;
    The Court that must be his; where he shall sport
    Himself with all thy Concubines, thy Gold,
    Thy costly robes, thy Crown; Wert thou not told
    This by proud Samuel, when at Gilgal he
1. Sam. 13. 13.
    With bold false threats from God affronted Thee?
    The dotard ly'd; God said it not I know;
    Not Baal or Moloch would have us'd thee so;
    Was not the choice his own? did not thy worth
    Exact the royal Lot, and call it forth?      280
    Hast thou not since (my best and greatest Sonne)
1. Sam. 19. 21.
    To Him, and to his per'ishing Nation done
    Such lasting ben'efits as may justly claime
    A Scepter as eternal as thy Fame?
    Poor Prince, whom Madmen, Priests, and Boys invade!
    By thine own Flesh thy ingrateful Son betray'd!
    Unnat'ural Fool, who can thus cheated be
    By Friendships Name against a Crown and Thee!
    Betray not too thy self; take courage, call
21    Thy 'enchanted Vertues forth, and be Whole Saul.      290
    Lo, this great cause makes thy dead Fathers rise,
    Breaks the firm Seals of their clos'd Tombs and Eyes.
    Nor can their jealous Ashes, whilst this Boy
    Survives, the Priv'iledge of their Graves enjoy.
    Rise quickly Saul, and take that Rebels breath
    Which troubles thus thy Life, and ev'en our Death.
    Kill him, and thou'rt secure; 'tis only He
    That's boldly interpos'd 'twixt God and Thee,
    As Earths low Globe robs the High Moon of Light;      300
    When this Eclypse is past, thy Fate's all bright.      330
    Trust me, dear Son, and credit what I tell;
    I 'have seen thy royal Stars, and know them well.
    Hence Fears and dull Delays! Is not thy Breast
    (Yes, Saul it is) with noble thoughts possest?
    May they beget like Acts. With that she takes
    One of her worst, her best beloved Snakes,
    Softly, dear Worm, soft and unseen (said she)
    Into his bosom steal, and in it be
    My Vice-Roy. At that word she took her flight,
    And her loose shape dissolv'd into the Night.      310
    The infected King leapt from his bed amaz'd,
    Scarce knew himself at first, but round him gaz'd,
    And started back at piec'd up shapes, which fear
    And his distracted Fancy painted there.
    Terror froze up his hair, and on his face
    Show'rs of cold sweat roll'd trembling down apace.
    Then knocking with his angry hands his breast,
    Earth with his feet; He crys, Oh 'tis confest;
22    I' have been a pious fool, a Woman-King;
    Wrong'd by a Seer, a Boy, every thing.      320
23    Eight hundred years of Death is not so deep,
    So unconcern'd as my Lethargick sleep.
    My Patience ev'en a Sacriledge becomes,
    Disturbs the Dead, and opes their sacred Tombs.
    Ah Benjamin, kind Father! who for me
    This cursed World endur'st again to see!
    All thou hast said, great Vision, is so true,
    That all which thou command'st, and more I'll do:
    Kill him? yes mighty Ghost the wretch shall dy,
    Though every Star in Heav'en should it deny;      330
    Nor mock th' assault of our just wrath again,
    Had he ten times his fam'd ten thousand slain.
    Should that bold popular Madman, whose design
    Is to revenge his own disgrace by Mine,
1 Sam. 8. 19.
    Should my ingrateful Son oppose th' intent,
    Should mine own heart grow scrup'ulous and relent.
    Curse me just Heaven (by which this truth I swear)
    If I that Seer, my Son, or Self do spare.
    No gentle Ghost, return to thy still home;
    Thither this day mine, and thy Foe shall come.      340
    If that curst object longer vex my sight,
    It must have learnt to 'appear as Thou to night.
    Whilst thus his wrath with threats the Tyrant fed,
    The threatned youth slept fearless on his bed;
    Sleep on, rest quiet as thy Conscience take,
    For though Thou sleep'st thy self, thy God's awake.
24    Above the subtle foldings of the Sky,
    Above the well-set Orbs soft Harmony,
    Above those petty Lamps that guild the Night;
    There is a place o'reflown with hallowed Light;      350
    Where Heaven, as if it left it self behind,
    Is stretcht out far, nor its own bounds can find:
    Here peaceful Flames swell up the sacred place,
25    Nor can the glory contain it self in th' endless space.
    For there no twilight of the Suns dull ray,
    Glimmers upon the pure and native day.
    No pale-fac'd Moon does in stoln beams appear,
    Or with dim Taper scatters darkness there.
    On no smooth Sphear the restless seasons slide,
    No circling Motion doth swift Time divide;      360
    Nothing is there To come, and nothing Past,
26    But an Eternal Now does always last.
    There sits th' Almighty, First of all, and End;
    Whom nothing but Himself can comprehend.
    Who with his Word commanded All to Be,
    And All obey'd him, for that Word was He.
    Only he spoke, and every thing that Is
    From out the womb of fertile Nothing ris.
    Oh who shall tell, who shall describe thy throne,
    Thou Great Three-One?      370
    There Thou thy self do'st in full presence show,
    Not absent from these meaner Worlds below;
    No, if thou wert, the Elements League would cease,
    And all thy Creatures break thy Natures peace.
    The Sun would stop his course, or gallop back,
    The Stars drop out, the Poles themselves would crack:
    Earths strong foundations would be torn in twain,
    And this vast work all ravel out again
    To its first Nothing; For his spirit contains
27    The well-knit Mass, from him each Creature gains      380
    Being and Motion, which he still bestows;
    From him th' effect of our weak Action flows.
28    Round him vast Armies of swift Angels stand,
    Which seven triumphant Generals command,
    They sing loud anthems of his endless praise,
    And with fixt eyes drink in immortal rayes.
29    Of these he call'd out one; all Heav'en did shake,
    And silence kept whilst its Creator spake.
    Are we forgotten then so soon? can He      390
    Look on his Crown, and not remember Me
    That gave it? can he think we did not hear
    (Fond Man!) his threats? and have we made the Ear
    To be accounted deaf? No, Saul, we heard;
    And it will cost thee dear; the ills thou'st fear'd,
    Practis'd, or thought on, I'll all double send;
    Have we not spoke it, and dares Man contend!
    Alas, poor dust! didst thou but know the day
    When thou must lie in blood at Gilboa,
1 Sam. 31.
    Thou, and thy Sons, thou wouldst not threaten still,
    Thy trembling Tongue would stop against thy will.      400
    Then shall thine Head fixt in curst Temples be,
    And all their foolish Gods shall laugh at Thee.
    That hand which now on Davids Life would prey,
    Shall then turn just, and its own Master slay;
    He whom thou hat'est, on thy lov'ed Throne shall sit,
    And expiate the disgrace thou do'st to it.
    Hast then; tell David what his King has sworn,
    Tell him whose blood must paint this rising Morn.
    Yet bid him go securely when he sends;
30    'Tis Saul that is his Foe, and we his Friends.      410
    The Man who has his God no aid can lack,
    And we who bid him Go, will bring him back.
    He spoke; the Heavens seem'd decently to bow,
    With all their bright Inhabitants; and now
    The jocond Sphaeres began again to play,
    Again each Spirit sung Halleluia.
    Only that Angel was strait gon; Ev'en so
    (But not so swift) the morning Glories flow
    At once from the bright Sun, and strike the ground;
    So winged Lightning the soft air does wound.      420
    Slow Time admires, and knows not what to call
    The Motion, having no Account so small.
    So flew this Angel, till to Davids bed
    He came, and thus his sacred Message said,
31    Awake, young Man, hear what thy King has sworn;
    He swore thy blood should paint this rising Morn.
    Yet to him go securely when he sends;
    'Tis Saul that is your Foe, and God your Friends.
    The Man who has his God, no aid can lack;
    And he who bids thee Go, will bring thee back.      430
    Up leapt Jessides, and did round him stare;
    But could see nought; for nought was left but air,
    Whilst this great Vision labours in his thought,
    Lo, the short Prophesie t'effect is brought.
    In treacherous hast he's sent for to the King,
1 Sam. 18. 10. & 19. 9.
    And with him bid his charmful Lyre to bring.
    The King, they say, lies raging in a Fit,
    Which does no cure but sacred tunes admit;
32    And true it was, soft musick did appease
1 Sam. 16. 23.
    Th'obscure fantastick rage of Sauls disease.      440
33    Tell me, oh Muse (for Thou, or none canst tell
    The mystick pow'ers that in blest Numbers dwell,
    Thou their great Nature know'st, nor is it fit
    This noblest Gem of thine own Crown t' omit)
    Tell me from whence these heav'nly charms arise;
    Teach the dull world t'admire what they despise,
    As first a various unform'd Hint we find
    Rise in some god-like Poets fertile Mind,
    Till all the parts and words their places take,
    And with just marches verse and musick make;      450
34    Such was Gods Poem, this Worlds new Essay;
    So wild and rude in its first draught it lay;
    Th' ungovern'd parts no Correspondence knew,
    An artless war from thwarting Motions grew;
    Till they to Number and fixt Rules were brought
    By the eternal Minds Poetique Thought.
35    Water and Air he for the Tenor chose,
    Earth made the Base, the Treble Flame arose,
36    To th' active Moon a quick brisk stroke he gave,
    To Saturns string a touch more soft and grave.      460
     The motions Strait, and Round, and Swift, and Slow,
    And Short, and Long, were mixt and woven so,
    Did in such artful Figures smoothly fall,
    As made this decent measur'd Dance of All.
    And this is Musick; Sounds that charm our ears,
    Are but one Dressing that rich Science wears.
    Though no man hear't, though no man it reherse,
    Yet will there still be Musick in my Verse.
    In this Great World so much of it we see;
37    The Lesser, Man, is all o're Harmonie.      470
    Storehouse of all Proportions! single Quire!
    Which first Gods Breath did tunefully inspire!
    From hence blest Musicks heav'enly charms arise,
    From sympathy which Them and Man allies.
    Thus they our souls, thus they our Bodies win,
    Not by their Force, but Party that's within.
38    Thus the strange Cure on our spilt Blood apply'd,
    Sympathy to the distant Wound does guid.
39    Thus when two Brethren strings are set alike,
    To move them both, but one of them we strike,      480
    Thus Davids Lyre did Sauls wild rage controul.
40    And tun'd the harsh disorders of his Soul.
41       When Israel was from bondage led,
Psal. 114.
       Led by th' Almighty's hand
       From out a forreign land,
    The great Sea beheld, and fled.
    As men pursu'd, when that fear past they find,
    Stop on some higher ground to look behind,
       So whilst through wondrous ways
       The sacred Army went,      490
       The Waves afar stood up to gaze,
       And their own Rocks did represent,
    Solid as Waters are above the Firmament.
       Old Jordans waters to their spring
       Start back with sudden fright;
       The spring amaz'd at sight,
       Asks what News from Sea they bring.
    The Mountains shook; and to the Mountains side,
    The little Hills leapt round themselves to hide;
       As young affrighted Lambs      500
       When they ought dreadful spy,
       Run trembling to their helpless Dams;
       The mighty Sea and River by,
    Were glad for their excuse to see the Hills to fly.
       What ail'd the mighty Sea to flee;
       Or why did Jordans tyde
       Back to his Fountain glide?
       Jordans Tyde, what ailed Thee?
    Why leapt the Hills? why did the Mountains shake?
    What ail'd them their fixt Natures to forsake?      510
       Fly where thou wilt, O Sea!
       And Jordans Current cease;
       Jordan there is no need of thee,
       For at Gods word, when e're he please,
    The Rocks shall weep new Waters forth instead of these.
Exod. 17. 6. Num. 20. 11.
    Thus sung the great Musician to his Lyre;
    And Sauls black rage grew softly to retire;
    But Envys Serpent still with him remain'd,
42    And the wise Charmers healthful voice disdain'd.
Ps. 58. 5.
    Th' unthankful King cur'd truly of his fit,      520
    Seems to lie drown'd and buryed still in it.
    From his past madness draws this wicked use,
    To sin disguis'd, and murder with excuse:
    For whilst the fearless youth his cure pursues,
    And the soft Medicine with kind art renews;
    The barb'arous Patient casts at him his spear,
1 Sam. 18. 11. & 19. 10.
    (The usual Scepter that rough hand did bear)
    Casts it with violent strength, but into th'roome
    An Arm more strong and sure then his was come;
    An Angel whose unseen and easie might      530
    Put by the weapon, and misled it right.
    How vain Mans pow'er is! unless God command,
    The weapon disobeys his Masters hand!
    Happy was now the error of the blow;
    At Gilboa it will not serve him so.
    One would have thought, Sauls sudden rage t'have seen,
    He had himself by David wounded been.
    He scorn'd to leave what he did ill begin,
    And thought his Honor now engag'ed i'th' Sin.
    A bloody Troop of his own Guards he sends      540
    (Slaves to his Will, and falsly call'ed his Friends)
    To mend his error by a surer blow,
    So Saul ordain'ed, but God ordain'ed not so.
    Home flies the Prince and to his trembling Wife
    Relates the new-past hazard of his life,
    Which she with decent passion hears him tell;
    For not her own fair Eyes she lov'ed so well.
43    Upon their Palace top beneath a row
    Of Lemon Trees, which there did proudly grow,
    And with bright stores of golden fruit repay      550
    The Light they drank from the Suns neighb'ring ray,
    (A small, but artful Paradise) they walk'd;
    And hand in hand sad gentle things they talk'd.
    Here Michol first an armed Troop espies
    (So faithful and so quick are loving Eyes)
    Which marcht, and often glister'd through a wood,
    That on right hand of her fair Palace stood;
    She saw them; and cry'd out; They're come to kill
1 Sam. 19. 11.
    My dearest Lord; Sauls spear pursues thee still.
    Behold his wicked Guards; Haste quickly, fly,      560
    For heavens sake haste; My dear Lord, do not dy.
    Ah cruel Father, whose ill-natur'ed rage
    Neither thy Worth, nor Marriage can asswage!
    Will he part those he joyn'd so late before?
    Were the two-hundred Foreskins worth no more?
1 Sam. 18. 27.
    He shall not part us; (Then she wept between)
    At yonder Window thou mayst scape unseen;
    This hand shall let thee down; stay not, but hast;
    'Tis not my Use to send thee hence so fast.
    Best of all women, he replies--and this      570
    Scarce spoke, she stops his answer with a Kiss;
    Throw not away (said she) thy precious breath,
    Thou stay'st too long within the reach of death.
    Timely he'obeys her wise advice, and streit
44    To unjust Force she'opposes just deceit.
    She meets the Murd'erers with a vertuous Ly,
1 Sam. 19. 13.
    And good dissembling Tears; May he not dy
    In quiet then? (said she) will they not give
1 Sam. 19. 14.
    That freedom who so fear lest he should Live?      580
    Even fate does with your cruelty conspire,
    And spares your guilt, yet does what you desire.
    Must he not live? for that ye need not sin;
    My much-wrong'd Husband speechless lies within,
    And has too little left of vital breath
    To know his Murderers, or to feel his Death.
    One hour will do your work--
    Here her well-govern'd Tears dropt down apace;
    Beauty and Sorrow mingled in one face
    Has such resistless charms that they believe,
    And an unwilling aptness find to grieve      590
    At what they came for; A pale Statues head
    In linnen wrapt appear'd on Davids bed;
    Two servants mournful stand and silent by,
    And on the table med'cinal reliques ly;
    In the close room a well-plac'ed Tapers light,
    Adds a becoming horror to the sight.
    And for th' Impression God prepar'ed their Sence;
    They saw, believ'd all this, and parted thence.
    How vain attempts Sauls unblest anger tryes,
    By his own hands deceiv'd, and servants Eyes!      600
    It cannot be (said he) no, can it? shall
    Our great ten thousand Slayer idly fall?
    The silly rout thinks God protects him still;
    But God, alas, guards not the bad from ill.
    Oh may he guard him! may his members be
    In as full strength, and well-set harmonie
    As the fresh body of the first made Man
    E're Sin, or Sins just meed, Disease began.
    He will be else too small for our vast Hate;
    And we must share in our revenge with fate.      610
    No; let us have him Whole; we else may seem
    To'have snatcht away but some few days from him,
    And cut that Thread which would have dropt in two;
    Will our great anger learn to stoop so low?
    I know it cannot, will not; him we prize
    Of our just wrath the solemn Sacrifize,
45    That must not blemisht be; let him remain
    Secure, and grow up to our stroke again.
    'Twill be some pleasure then to take his breath,
    When he shall strive, and wrestle with his death;      620
    Go, let him live--And yet--shall I then stay
    So long? good and great actions hate delay.
    Some foolish piety perhaps, or He
    That has been still mine honors Enemie,
    Samuel may change or cross my just intent,
    And I this Formal Pity soon repent.
    Besides Fate gives him me, and whispers this,
    That he can fly no more, if we should miss;
    Miss? can we miss again; go bring him strait,
    Though gasping out his Soul; if the wisht date      630
1 Sam. 19. 15.
    Of his accursed life be almost past,
    Some Joy 'twill be to see him breath his last.
    The Troop return'd, of their short Virtue' asham'ed,
    Sauls courage prais'd, and their own weakness blam'ed,
    But when the pious fraud they understood,
    Scarce the respect due to Sauls sacred blood,
    Due to the sacred beauty in it reign'ed,
    From Michols murder their wild rage restrain'ed.
    She'alleag'ed the holiest chains that bind a wife,
    Duty and Love; she alleag'ed that her own Life,      640
1 Sam. 19. 17.
    Had she refus'ed that safety to her Lord,
    Would have incurr'd just danger from his sword.
    Now was Sauls wrath full grown; he takes no rest;
    A violent Flame rolls in his troubled brest,
    And in fierce Lightning from his Eye do's break;
    Not his own fav'orites, and best friends dare speak,
    Or look on him; but mute and trembling all,
    Fear where this Cloud will burst, and Thunder fall.
    So when the pride and terrour of the Wood,
    A Lyon prickt with rage and want of food,      650
    Espies out from afar some well-fed beast,
    And brustles up preparing for his feast;
    If that by swiftness scape his gaping jaws;
    His bloody eyes he hurls round, his sharp paws
    Tear up the ground; then runs he wild about,
    Lashing his angry tail, and roaring out.
    Beasts creep into their dens, and tremble there;
    Trees, though no wind stirring, shake with feare;
    Silence and horror fill the place around.
    Eccho it self dares scarce repeat the sound.      660
46    Midst a large Wood that joyns fair Ramahs Town
1 Sam. 19. 19.
    (The neighbourhood fair Rama's chief renown)
47    A Colledge stands, where at great Prophets feet
    The Prophets Sons with silent dili'gence meet,
    By Samuel built, and mod'erately endow'ed,
    Yet more to' his lib'ral Tongue then Hands they ow'ed:
    There himself taught, and his blest voice to heare,
    Teachers themselves lay proud beneath him there.
    The House was a large Square; but plain and low;
    Wise Natures use Art strove not to outgo.      670
    An inward Square by well-rang'd Trees was made;
    And midst the friendly cover of their shade,
    A pure, well-tasted, wholsome Fountain rose;
    Which no vain cost of Marble did enclose;
    Nor through carv'd shapes did the forc'ed waters pass,
    Shapes gazing on themselves i'th' liquid glass.
    Yet the chaste stream that 'mong loose peebles fell
48    For Cleanness, Thirst, Religion serv'd as well.
49    The Schollars, Doctors and Companions here,
    Lodg'ed all apart in neat small chambers were:      680
    Well-furnisht-Chambers, for in each there stood,
50    A narrow Couch, Table and Chair of wood;
    More is but clog where use does bound delight;
    And those are rich whose Wealth's proportion'ed right
    To their Lifes Form; more goods would but becom
    A Burden to them, and contract their room.
    A second Court more sacred stood behind,
    Built fairer, and to nobler use design'd:
    The Halls and Schools one side of it possest;
    The Library and Synagogue the rest.      690
    Tables of plain-cut Firre adorn'ed the Hall;
51    And with beasts skins the beds were cov'red all.
52    The reverend Doctors take their seats on high,
    Th' Elect Companions in their bosoms ly.
    The Schollars far below upon the ground,
    On fresh-strew'd rushes place themselves around.
    With more respect the wise and ancient lay;
    But eat not choicer Herbs or Bread then they,
    Nor purer Waters drank, their constant feast;
    But by great days, and Sacrifice encreast.      700
    The Schools built round and higher, at the end
    With their fair circle did this side extend;
    To which their Synagogue on th'other side,
    And to the Hall their Library replide.
    The midst tow'ards their large Gardens open lay,
    To'admit the joys of Spring and early day.
    I'th' Library a few choice Authors stood;
    Yet 'twas well stor'ed, for that small store was good;
    Writing, Mans Spir'itual Physick was not then
    It self, as now, grown a Disease of Men.      710
    Learning (young Virgin) but few Suitors knew;
    The common Prostitute she lately grew,
    And with her spurious brood loads now the Press;
    Laborious effects of Idleness!
    Here all the various forms one might behold
    How Letters sav'd themselves from Death of old;
53    Some painfully engrav'ed in thin wrought plates,
    Some cut in wood, some lightlier trac'ed on slates;
54    Some drawn on fair Palm leaves, with short-live'd toyl,
    Had not their friend the Cedar lent his Oyl.      720
55    Some wrought in Silks, some writ in tender barks;
    Some the sharp Stile in waxen Tables marks;
56    Some in beasts skins, and some in Biblos reed;
    Both new rude arts, with age and growth did need.
    The Schools were painted well with useful skill;
    Stars, Maps, and Stories the learn'd wall did fill.
    Wise wholesome Proverbs mixt around the roome,
57    Some writ, and in Egyptian Figures some.
    Here all the noblest Wits of men inspir'ed,
    From earths slight joys, and worthless toils retir'ed,      730
    Whom Samuels Fame and Bounty thither lead,
    Each day by turns their solid knowledge read.
58    The course and power of Stars great Nathan thought,
    And home to man those distant Wonders brought,
    How toward both Poles the Suns fixt journey bends,
    And how the Year his crooked walk attends.
    By what just steps the wandring Lights advance,
    And what eternal measures guid their dance.
    Himself a Prophet; but his Lectures shew'ed
    How little of that Art to them he ow'ed.      740
    Mahol th'inferior worlds fantastick face,
    Though all the turns of Matters Maze did trace,
    Great Natures well-set Clock in pieces took;
    On all the Springs and smallest Wheels did look
    Of Life and Motion; and with equal art
    Made up again the Whole of ev'ry Part.
    The Prophet Gad in learned Dust designes
    Th'immortal solid rules of fanci'ed Lines.
    Of Numbers too th' unnumbred wealth he showes,
    And with them far their endless journey goes.      750
59    Numbers which still encrease more high and wide
    From One, the root of their turn'd Pyramide.
    Of Men, and Ages past Seraiah read;
    Embalm'd in long-liv'd History the Dead.
    Show'd the steep falls, and slow ascent of States;
    What Wisdom and what Follies make their Fates.
    Samuel himself did Gods rich Law display;
    Taught doubting men with Judgment to obay.
    And oft his ravisht Soul with sudden flight
    Soar'd above present Times, and humane sight.      760
    These Arts but welcome strangers might appear,
    Musick and Verse seem'd born and bred up here;
    Scarce the blest Heav'en that rings with Angels voyce,
    Does more with constant Harmony rejoyce.
    The sacred Muse does here each brest inspire;
    Heman, and sweet-mouth'd Asaph rule their Quire:
    Both charming Poets, and all strains they plaid,
    By artful Breath, or nimble Fingers made.
    The Synagogue was drest with care and cost,
    (The onely place where that they'esteem'd not lost)      770
    The glittering roof with gold did daze the view,
60    The sides refresh't with silks of sacred blew.
    Here thrice each day they read their perfect Law,
    Thrice pray'ers from willing Heav'en a blessing draw;
    Thrice in glad Hymns swell'd with the Great Ones praise,
61    The plyant Voice on her sev'en steps they raise,
    Whilst all th' enlivened Instruments around
    To the just feet with various concord sound;
    Such things were Muses then, contemn'd low earth;
    Decently proud, and mindful of their birth.      780
    'Twas God himself that here tun'ed every Toung;
    And gratefully of him alone they sung.
62    They sung how God spoke out the worlds vast ball;
    From Nothing, and from No where call'd forth All.
    No Nature yet, or place for't to possess,
    But an unbottom'ed Gulf of Emptiness.
    Full of Himself, th' Almighty sat, his own
63    Palace, and without Solitude Alone.
    But he was Goodness whole, and all things will'd;
    Which ere they were, his active word fulfill'd;      790
    And their astonisht heads o'th' sudden rear'ed;
    An unshap'ed kind of Something first appear'ed,
    Confessing its new Being, and undrest
    As if it stept in hast before the rest.
    Yet buried in this Matters darksome womb,
    Lay the rich Seeds of ev'ery thing to com.
    From hence the chearful Flame leapt up so high;
    Close at its heels the nimble Air did fly;
    Dull Earth with his own weight did downwards pierce
    To the fixt Navel of the Universe,      800
    And was quite lost in waters: till God said
    To the proud Sea, shrink in your ins'olent head,
    See how the gaping Earth has made you place;
    That durst not murmure, but shrunk in apace.
    Since when his bounds are set, at which in vain
    He foams, and rages, and turns back again.
    With richer stuff he bad Heav'ens fabrick shine,
    And from him a quick spring of Light divine
    Swell'd up the Sun, from whence his cher'ishing flame
    Fills the whole world, like Him from whom it came.      810
    He smooth'd the rough-cast Moons imperfect mold,
    And comb'ed her beamy locks with sacred gold;
    Be thou (said he) Queen of the mournful night,
    And as he spoke, she' arose clad o're in Light,
    With thousand stars attending on her train;
    With her they rise, with her they set again.
    Then Herbs peep'ed forth, new Trees admiring stood,
    And smelling Flow'ers painted the infant wood.
    Then flocks of Birds through the glad ayr did flee,
    Joyful, and safe before Mans Luxurie,      820
    Teaching their Maker in their untaught lays:
    Nay the mute Fish witness no less his praise.
    For those he made, and cloath'd with silver scales;
    From Minoes to those living Islands, Whales.
    Beasts too were his command: what could he more?
    Yes, Man he could, the bond of all before;
    In him he all things with strange order hurl'd;
    In him, that full Abridgment of the World.
    This, and much more of Gods great works they told;
    His mercies, and some judgments too of old:      830
    How when all earth was deeply stain'd in sin;
    With an impetuous noyse the waves came rushing in.
    Where birds e're while dwelt, and securely sung;
    There Fish (an unknown Net) entangled hung.
    The face of shi[pw]rackt Nature naked lay;
    The Sun peep'd forth, and beheld nought but Sea.
    This men forgot, and burnt in lust again;
    Till show'rs, strange as their Sin, of fiery rain,
    And scalding brimstone, dropt on Sodoms head;
    Alive they felt those Flames they fry in Dead.      840
    No better end rash Pharaohs pride befel
    When wind and Sea wag'ed war for Israel.
    In his gilt chariots amaz'ed fishes sat,
    And grew with corps of wretched Princes fat.
    The waves and rocks half-eaten bodies stain;
    Nor was it since call'd the Red-sea in vain.
64    Much too they told of faithful Abrams fame,
    To whose blest passage they owe still their Name:
    Of Moses much, and the great seed of Nun;
    What wonders they perform'd, what lands they won.      850
    How many Kings they slew or Captive brought;
    They held the Swords, but God and Angels fought.
    Thus gain'd they the wise spending of their days;
    And their whole Life was their dear Makers praise.
    No minutes rest, no swiftest thought they sold
    To that beloved Plague of Mankind, Gold.
    Gold for which all mankind with greater pains
    Labour towards Hell, then those who dig its veins.
    Their wealth was the Contempt of it; which more
    They valu'd then rich fools the shining Ore.      860
    The Silk-worm's pretious death they scorn'd to wear,
    And Tyrian Dy appear'd but sordid there.
    Honor, which since the price of Souls became,
    Seem'd to these great ones a low idle Name.
    Instead of Down, hard beds they chose to have,
    Such as might bid them not forget their Grave.
    Their Board dispeopled no full Element,
    Free Natures bounty thriftily they spent
    And spar'ed the Stock; nor could their bodies say
    We owe this Crudeness t'Excess yesterday.      870
    Thus Souls live cleanly, and no soiling fear,
    But entertain their welcome Maker there.
    The Senses perform nimbly what they're bid,
    And honestly, nor are by Reason chid.
    And when the Down of sleep does softly fall,
65    Their Dreams are heavenly then, and mystical.
    With hasty wings Time present they outfly,
    And tread the doubtful Maze of Destiny.
    There walk and sport among the years to come;
    And with quick Eye pierce ev'ery Causes womb.      880
    Thus these wise Saints enjoy'd their Little All;
    Free from the spight of much-mistaken Saul:
    For if mans Life we in just ballance weight,
    David deserv'd his Envy less then They.
    Of this retreat the hunted Prince makes choice,
    Adds to their Quire his nobler Lyre and Voyce.
    But long unknown even here he could not lye;
    So bright his Lustre, so quick Envies Eye!
    Th'offended Troop, whom he escap'ed before,
1 Sam. 19. 20.
    Pursue him here, and fear mistakes no more;      890
    Belov'ed revenge fresh rage to them affords;
    Some part of him all promise to their Swords.
    They came, but a new spirit their hearts possest,
    Scatt'ring a sacred calm through every brest:
    The furrows of their brow, so rough erewhile,
    Sink down into the dimples of a Smile.
    Their cooler veins swell with a peaceful tide,
    And the chaste streams with even current glide.
    A sudden day breaks gently through their eyes,
    And Morning-blushes in their cheeks arise.      900
    The thoughts of war, of blood, and murther cease;
    In peaceful tunes they adore the God of Peace.
    New Messengers twice more the Tyrant sent,
Ib. v. 21.
    And was twice more mockt with the same event.
    His heightned rage no longer brooks delay;
    It sends him there himself; but on the way
    His foolish Anger a wise Fury grew,
Ib. v. 23.
    And Blessings from his mouth unbidden flew.
    His Kingly robes he laid at Naioth down,
    Began to understand and scorn his Crown;      910
    Employ'd his mounting thoughts on nobler things;
    And felt more solid joys then Empire brings.
    Embrac'ed his wondring Son, and on his head
    The balm of all past wounds, kind Tears he shed.
    So cov'etous Balam with a fond intent
Num. 22.
    Of cursing the blest Seed, to Moab went.
    But as he went his fatal tongue to sell;
    His Ass taught him to speak, God to speak well.
Ib. v. 28.
    How comely are thy Tents, oh Israel!
Num. 24. 5.
    (Thus he began) what conquests they foretel!      920
    Less fair are Orchards in their autumn pride,
    Adorn'd with Trees on some fair Rivers side.
    Less fair are Valleys their green mantles spread!
    Or Mountains with tall Cedars on their head!
    'Twas God himself (thy God who must not fear?)
    Brought thee from Bondage to be Master here.
    Slaughter shall wear out these; new Weapons get;
    And Death in triumph on thy darts shall sit.
    When Judahs Lyon starts up to his prey,
    The Beasts shall hang their ears, and creep away.      930
    When he lies down, the Woods shall silence keep,
    And dreadful Tygers tremble at his sleep.
    Thy Cursers, Jacob, shall twice cursed be;
    And he shall bless himself that blesses Thee.

Click here for a facsimile sequence of Cowley's elaborate prose notes; the verse text has been normalized in the same way as Cowley's "Hymn to Light."
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