The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

The Request
from The Mistress, Poems (1656; editor's copy)

   I'Have often wisht to love; what shall I do?
      Me still the cruel Boy does spare;
      And I a double task must bear,
   First to woo him, and then a Mistress too.
      Come at last and strike for shame;
   If thou art any thing besides a name.
      I'le think Thee else no God to be;
But Poets rather Gods, who first created Thee.
   I ask not one in whom all beauties grow,
      Let me but love, what e're she be,  10
      She cannot seem deform'd to me;
   And I would have her seem to others so.
      Desire takes wings and strait does fly,
   It stays not dully to inquire the Why.
      That Happy thing a Lover grown,
I shall not see with others Eyes, scarce with mine own.
   If she be coy and scorn my noble fire,
      If her chill heart I cannot move,
      Why I'le enjoy the very Love,
   And make a Mistress of my own Desire.  20
      Flames their most vigorous heat do hold,
   And purest light, if compast round with cold:
      So when sharp Winter means most harm,
The springing Plants are by the Snow it self kept warm.
   But do not touch my heart, and so be gone;
      Strike deep thy burning arrows in:
      Lukewarmness I account a sin,
   As great in Love, as in Religion.
      Come arm'd with flames, for I would prove
   All the extremities of mighty Love.  30
      Th' excess of heat is but a fable;
We know the torrid Zone is now found habitable.
   Among the Woods and Forrests thou art found,
      There Bores and Lyons thou dost tame;
      Is not my heart a nobler game?
   Let Venus, Men; and Beasts, Diana wound.
       Thou dost the Birds thy Subjects make;
    Thy nimble feathers do their wings o'retake:
      Thou all the Spring their Songs dost hear,
Make me Love too, I'll sing to' thee all the year.  40
   What service can mute Fishes do to Thee?
      Yet against them thy Dart prevails,
      Piercing the armour of their Scales;
   And still thy Sea-born Mother lives i'th' Sea.
      Dost thou deny onely to me
   The no-great privilege of Captivitie?
      I beg or challenge here thy Bow;
Either thy pitty to me, or else thine anger show.
   Come; or I'll teach the world to scorn that Bow:
      I'll teach them thousand wholesome arts  50
      Both to resist and cure thy darts,
    More then thy skilful Ovid ere did know.
      Musick of sighs thou shalt not hear,
   Nor drink one wretched Lovers tasteful Tear:
      Nay, unless soon thou woundest me,
My Verses shall not onely wound, but murther Thee.

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