By way of Question and Answer, betweene
A. Cowley, and R. Crashaw.
|A collated text of Crashaw's poem is reprinted and well discussed in Cowley's Collected Works 2/1, ed. Thomas O. Calhoun, Laurence Heyworth, and J. Robert King (Newark, DEL, 1993), 186-92. As previous scholarship notes, Crashaw was not responsible for the earliest printings of the dialogue with Cowley (sometimes printing the two parts conflated, and sometimes en face), and the sequence of his stanzas answering Cowley's seems jumbled in 1646. One attractive arrangement is this one:|
Alike, if it succeed, and if it misse.
Whom Ill, and Good doth equally confound,
And both the hornes of Fates dilemma wound.
Vaine shadow! that doth vanish quite
Both at full noone, and perfect night.
The Fates have not a possibility
Of blessing thee.
If things then from their ends we happy call,
'Tis hope is the most hopelesse thing of all.
The entity of those that are not yet.
Subt'lest, but surest being! Thou by whom
Our Nothing hath a definition.
Faire cloud of fire, both shade, and light,
Our life in death, our day in night.
Fates cannot find out a capacity
Of hurting thee.
From Thee their thinne dilemma with blunt horne
Shrinkes, like the sick Moone at the wholsome morne.
Who, in stead of doing so, devour'st it quite.
Thou bringst us an estate, yet leav'st us poore,
By clogging it with Legacies before.
The joyes, which we intire should wed,
Come deflour'd virgins to our bed.
Good fortunes without gaine imported bee,
So mighty Custome's paid to thee.
For joy, like Wine kept close does better taste;
If it take ayre before, its spirits waste.
Of faith: the steward of our growing stocke.
Our Crown-lands lye above, yet each meale brings
A seemly portion for the Sons of Kings.
Nor will the Virgin-joyes we wed
Come lesse unbroken to our bed,
Because that from the bridall cheeke of Blisse,
Thou thus steal'st down a distant kisse,
Hopes chaste kisse wrongs no more joyes maidenhead,
Then Spousall rites prejudge the marriage-bed.
Young Time is taster to Eternity.
The generous wine with age growes strong, not sower;
Nor need wee kill thy fruit to smell thy flower.
Thy golden head never hangs downe,
Till in the lap of Loves full noone
It falls, and dyes: oh no, it melts away
As doth the dawne into the day:
As lumpes of Sugar lose themselves, and twine
Their subtile essence with the soule of wine.
Where for one prize an hundred blankes there bee.
Fond Archer Hope, who tak'st thine ayme so farre,
That still, or short, or wide thine arrowes are.
Thine empty cloud the eye, it selfe deceives
With shapes that our own fancie gives:
A cloud, which gilt, and painted now appeares,
But must drop presently in teares.
When thy false beams o're Reasons light prevaile,
By ignes fatui, not North starres we sayle.
Hope kickes the curl'd heads of conspiring starres,
Her keele cuts not the waves, where our winds stirre,
And Fates whole Lottery is one blanke to her.
Her shafts, and shee fly farre above,
And forrage in the fields of light, and love.
Sweet Hope! Kind cheat! faire fallacy! by thee
Wee are not where, or what wee be,
But what, and where wee would be: thus art thou
Our absent presence, and our future now.
The merrier Foole o'th'two, yet quite as mad.
Sire of Repentance! Childe of fond desire, [1648: shield
That blows the Chymicks, and the Lovers fire,
Still leading them insensibly on
By the strange witchcraft of Anon.
By thee the one doth changing Nature through
Her endless Laborinths pursue,
And th'other chases woman, while she goes
More wayes, and turnes, then hunted Nature knowes.
Feares Antidote! a wise, and well-stay'd fire
Temper'd 'twixt cold despaire, and torrid joy:
Queen Regent in young Loves minoritie.
Though the vext Chymick vainly chases
His fugitive gold through all her faces;
And loves more fierce, more fruitlesse fires assay
One face more fugitive then all they,
True Hope's a glorious Huntresse, and her chase
The God of Nature in the field of Grace.