The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

Upon Dr. Harvey
from Works (1668; editor's copy)

COy Nature, (which remain'd, though aged grown,
A Beauteous virgin still, injoy'd by none,
         Nor seen unveil'd by any one)
When Harveys violent passion she did see,
Began to tremble, and to flee,
Took Sanctuary like Daphne in a tree:
There Daphnes lover stop't, and thought it much
         The very Leaves of her to touch,
But Harvey our Apollo, stopt not so,
Into the Bark, and root he after her did goe:  10
         No smallest Fibres of a Plant,
For which the eiebeams Point doth sharpness want,
         His passage after her withstood.
What should she do? through all the moving wood
Of Lives indow'd with sense she took her flight,
Harvey persues, and keeps her still in sight.
But as the Deer long-hunted takes a flood,
She leap't at last into the winding streams of blood;
Of mans Meander all the Purple reaches made,
         Till at the heart she stay'd,  20
         Where turning head, and at a Bay,
Thus, by well-purged ears, was she o're-heard to say.
Here sure shall I be safe (said she)  [1668: (said) she
None will be able sure to see
         This my retreat, but only He
         Who made both it and me.
The heart of Man, what Art can e're reveal?
         A wall impervious between
         Divides the very Parts within,
And doth the Heart of man ev'n from its self conceal.  30
         She spoke, but e're she was aware,
         Harvey was with her there,
And held this slippery Proteus in a chain,
Till all her mighty Mysteries she descry'd,
Which from his wit the attempt before to hide
Was the first Thing that Nature did in vain.
         He the young Practise of New life did see,
         Whil'st to conceal its toilsome Poverty,
It for a living wrought, both hard, and privately.
         Before the Liver understood  40
         The noble Scarlet Dye of Blood,
         Before one drop was by it made,
Or brought into it, to set up the Trade;
Before the untaught Heart began to beat
The tuneful March to vital Heat,
From all the Souls that living Buildings rear,
Whether imply'd for Earth, or Sea, or Air,
Whether it in the Womb or Egg be wrought,
A strict account to him is hourly brought,
   How the Great Fabrick does proceed,  50
What time and what materials it does need.
He so exactly does the work survey,
As if he hir'd the workers by the day.
Thus Harvey sought for Truth in Truth's own Book
   The Creatures, which by God himself was writ;
         And wisely thought 'twas fit,
Not to read Comments only upon it,
But on th'original it self to look.
Methinks in Arts great Circle others stand
   Lock't up together, Hand in Hand,  60
   Every one leads as he is led,
   The same bare path they tread,
A Dance like Fairies a Fantastick round,
But neither change their motion, nor their ground:
Had Harvey to this Road confin'd his wit,
His noble Circle of the Blood, had been untroden yet.
Great Doctor! Th' Art of Curing's cur'd by thee,
         We now thy patient Physick see,
From all inveterate diseases free,
         Purg'd of old errors by thy care,  70
New dieted, put forth to clearer air,
         It now will strong and healthful prove,
It self before Lethargick lay, and could not move.
These useful secrets to his Pen we owe,
And thousands more 'twas ready to bestow;
Of which a barb'rous Wars unlearned Rage
         Has robb'd the ruin'd age;
O cruel loss! as if the Golden Fleece,
   With so much cost, and labour bought,
And from a far by a Great Heroe brought
   Had sunk ev'n in the Ports of Greece.  80
O cursed Warr! who can forgive thee this?
         Houses and Towns may rise again,
         And ten times easier it is
To rebuild Pauls, than any work of his.
That mighty Task none but himself can do,
         Nay, scarce himself too now,
For though his Wit the force of Age withstand,
His Body alas! and Time it must command,
And Nature now, so long by him surpass't,  90
Will sure have her revenge on him at last.

This text normalized in the same way as Cowley's "Hymn to Light."
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