The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

Prosary, or a Critical Garland: Cowley's Prefaces, Essays, Early Lives

Preface (Poems, 1656)

[Normalized in the same way as Cowley's "Hymn to Light." Both the General Preface and Cowley's Pindar preface are transcribed from the editor's copy of
Poems (London, 1656); bracketed notes in red indicate 1656 signatures, and in blue page-divisions in Waller's edition (Cambridge, 1905)]

AT my return lately into England, I met by great accident (for such I account it to be, that any Copy of it should be extant any where so long, unless at his house who printed it) a Book entituled, The Iron Age, and published under my name, during the time of my absence. I wondred very much how one who could be so foolish to write so ill Verses, should yet be so Wise to set them forth as another Mans rather then his own; though perhaps he might have made a better choice, and not fathered the Bastard upon such a person, whose stock of Reputation is, I fear, little enough for maintenance of his own numerous Legitimate Off-spring of that kinde. It would have been much less injurious, if it had pleased the Author to put forth some of my Writings under his own name, rather then his own under mine: He had been in that a more pardonable Plagiary, and had done less wrong by Robbery, then he does by such a Bounty; for no body can be justified by the Imputation even of anothers Merit; and our own course Cloathes are like to become us better, then those of another mans, though never so rich: but these, to say the truth, were so beggarly, that I my self was ashamed to wear them. It was in vain for me, that I avoided censure by the concealment of my own writings, if my reputation could be thus Executed in Effigie; and impossible it is for any good Name to be in safety, if the malice of Witches have the power to consume and destroy it in an Image of their [(a)1v] own making. This indeed was so ill made, and so unlike, that I hope the Charm took no effect. So that I esteem my self less prejudiced by it, then by that which has been done to me, since almost in the same kinde, which is, the publication of some [5] things of mine without my consent or knowledge, and those so mangled and imperfect, that I could neither with honor acknowledge, nor with honesty quite disavow them. Of which sort, was a Comedy called The Guardian, printed in the year, 1650. but made and acted before the Prince, in his passage through Cambridge towards York, at the beginning of the late unhappy War; or rather neither made nor acted, but rough-drawn onely, and repeated; for the haste was so great, that it could neither be revised or perfected by the Author, nor learnt without-Book by the Actors, nor set forth in any measure tolerably by the Officers of the College. After the Representation (which, I confess, was somewhat of the latest) I began to look it over, and changed it very much, striking out some whole parts, as that of the Poet and the Souldier; but I have lost the Copy, and dare not think it deserves the pains to write it again, which makes me omit it in this publication, though there be some things in it which I am not ashamed of, taking in the excuse of my age and small experience in humane conversation when I made it. But as it is, it is onely the hasty first-sitting of a Picture, and therefore like to resemble me accordingly. From this which had hapned to my self, I began to reflect upon the fortune of almost all Writers, and especially Poets, whose Works (commonly printed after their deaths) we finde stuffed out, either with counterfeit pieces, like false Money put in to fill up the Bag, though it adde nothing to the sum; or with such, which though of their own Coyn, they would have called in themselves, for the baseness of the Allay: whether this proceed from the indiscretion of their Friends, who think a vast heap of Stones or Rubbish a better Monument, then a little Tomb of Marble, or by the unworthy avarice of some Stationers, who are content to diminish the value of the Author, so they may encrease the price of the Book; and like Vintners with sophisticate mixtures, spoil the whole vessel of wine, [(a)2] to make it yield more profit. This has been the case with Shakespear, Fletcher, Johnson, and many others; part of whose Poems I should take the boldness to prune and lop away, if the care of replanting them in print did belong to me ; neither would I make any scruple to cut off from some the unnecessary yong Suckars, and from others the old withered Branches; for a great Wit is no more tyed to live in a Vast Volume, then in a Gigantique [6] Body, it is commonly more vigorous, the less space it animates. And as Statius says of little Tydeus,
        -----Totos infusa per artus
        Major in exiguo regnabat corpore virtus. Stat. l. 1. Theb.
I am not ignorant, that by saying this of others, I expose my self to some Raillery, for not using the same severe discretion in my own case, where it concerns me nearer: But though I publish here, more then in strict wisdom I ought to have done, yet I have supprest and cast away more then I publish; and for the ease of my self and others, have lost, I believe too, more then both. And upon these considerations I have been perswaded to overcome all the just repugnances of my own modesty, and to produce these Poems to the light and view of the World; not as a thing that I approved of in it self, but as a lesser evil, which I chose rather then to stay till it were done for me by some body else, either surreptitiously before, or avowedly after my death; and this will be the more excusable, when the Reader shall know in what respects he may look upon me as a Dead, or at least a Dying Person, and upon my Muse in this action, as appearing, like the Emperor Charls the Fifth, and assisting at her own Funeral.
For to make my self absolutely dead in a Poetical capacity, my resolution at present, is never to exercise any more that faculty. It is, I confess, but seldom seen that the Poet dyes before the Man; for when we once fall in love with that bewitching Art, we do not use to court it as a Mistress, but marry it as a Wife, and take it for better or worse, as an Inseparable Companion of our whole life. But as the Mariages of Infants do but rarely prosper, so no [(a)2v] man ought to wonder at the diminution or decay of my affection to Poesie; to which I had contracted my self so much under Age, and so much to my own prejudice in regard of those more profitable matches which I might have made among the richer Sciences. As for the Portion which this brings of Fame, it is an Estate (if it be any, for men are not oftner deceived in their hopes of Widows, then in their opinion of, Exegi monumentum are perennius) that hardly ever comes in whilst we are Living to enjoy it, but is a fantastical kind of Reversion to our own selves: [7] neither ought any man to envy Poets this posthumous and imaginary happiness, since they finde commonly so little in present, that it may be truly applyed to them, which S. Paul speaks of the first Christians, If their reward be in this life, they are of all men the most miserable.
And if in quiet and flourishing times they meet with so small encouragement, what are they to expect in rough and troubled ones? if wit be such a Plant, that it scarce receives heat enough to preserve it alive even in the Summer of our cold Clymate, how can it choose but wither in a long and a sharp winter? a warlike, various, and a tragical age is best to write of, but worst to write in. And I may, though in a very unequal proportion, assume that to my self, which was spoken by Tully to a much better person, upon occasion of the Civil Wars and Revolutions in his time, Sed in to intuens, Brute, doleo, cujus in adolescentiam per medias laudes quasi quadrigis vehentem transversa incurrit misera fortuna Reipublicae. Cic. de Clar. Orator.
Neither is the present constitution of my Mind more proper then that of the Times for this exercise, or rather divertisement. There is nothing that requires so much serenity and chearfulness of Spirit; it must not be either overwhelmed with the cares of Life, or overcast with the Clouds of Melancholy and Sorrow, or shaken and disturbed with the storms of injurious Fortune; it must like the Halcyon, have fair weather to breed in. The Soul must be filled with bright and delightful Idea's, when it undertakes to communicate delight to others; which is the main end of Poesie. One may see through the stile of Ovid de Trist. the humbled and dejected condition of Spirit with [(a)3] which he wrote it ; there scarce remains any footsteps of that Genius,
        Quem nec Jovis ira, nec ignes, &c.
The cold of the Countrey had strucken through all his faculties, and benummed the very feet of his Verses. He is himself, methinks, like one of the Stories of his own Metamorphosis; and though there remain some weak resemblances of Ovid at Rome, It is but as he says of Niobe,
        In vultu color est sine sanguine, lumina maestis
        Stant immota genis ; nihil est in Imagine vivum,
        Flet tamen.----- Ovid. Metam. 1. 6.
[8] The truth is, for a man to write well, it is necessary to be in good humor; neither is Wit less eclypsed with the unquietness of Mind, then Beauty with the Indisposition of Body. So that 'tis almost as hard a thing to be a Poet in despight of Fortune, as it is in despight of Nature. For my own part, neither my obligations to the Muses, nor expectations from them are so great, as that I should suffer my self upon no considerations to be divorced; or that I should say like Horace,
        Quisquis erit vitae, Scribam, color.        Hor. Sat. 2. 1. 2. Ser.
I shall rather use his words in another place,
        Vixi Camaenis nuper idoneus,
        Et militavi non sine gloriâ,
        Nunc arma defunctúmq; bello
        Barbiton hic paries habebit L.3. Car. Ode 26. Vixi puellis, &c.
And this resolution of mine does the more befit me, because my desire has been for some years past (though the execution has been accidentally diverted) and does stil vehemently continue, to retire my self to some of our American Plantations, not to seek for Gold, or inrich uny self with the traffique of those parts (which is the end of [(a)3v] most men that travel thither; so that of these Indies it is truer then it was of the former,
        Improbus extremos currit Mercator ad Indos
        Pauperiem fugiens---)
But to forsake this world for ever, with all the vanities and Vexations of it, and to bury my self in some obscure retreat there (but not without the consolation of Letters and Philosophy)
        Oblitúsque meorum, obliviscendus & illis.
As my former Author speaks too, who has inticed me here, I know not how, into the Pedantry of this heap of Latine Sentences. And I think Doctor Donnes Sun Dyal in a grave is not more useless and ridiculous then Poetry would be in that retirement. As this therefore is in a true sense a kind of Death to the Muses, and a real literal quitting of this World: So, methinks, I may make a just claim to the undoubted priviledge of Deceased Poets, which is to be read with more favor, then the Living;
        Tanti est ut placeam tibi, Perire. Mart.
[9] Having been forced for my own necessary justification to trouble the Reader with this long Discourse of the Reasons why I trouble him also with all the rest of the Book, I shall onely add somewhat concerning the several parts of it, and some other pieces, which I have thought fit to reject in this publication: As first, all those which I wrote at School from the age of ten years, till after fifteen ; for even so far backward there remain yet some traces of me in the little footsteps of a childe; which though they were then looked upon as commendable extravagances in a Boy (men setting a value upon any kind of fruit before the usual season of it) yet I would be loth to be bound now to read them all over my self; and therefore should do ill to expect that patience from others. Besides, they have already past through several Editions, which is a longer Life [(a)4] then uses to be enjoyed by Infants that are born before the ordinary terms. They had the good fortune then to find the world so indulgent (for considering the time of their production, who could be so hard-hearted to be severe?) that I scarce yet apprehend so much to be censured for them, as for not having made advances afterwards proportionable to the speed of my setting out, and am obliged too in a maner by Discretion to conceal and suppress them, as Promises and Instruments under my own hand, whereby I stood engaged for more then I have been able to perform; in which truly, if I have failed, I have the real excuse of the honestest sort of Bankrupts, which is, to have been made Unsolvable, not so much by their own negligence and ill-husbandry, as by some notorious accidents, and publike disasters. In the next place, I have cast away all such pieces as I wrote during the time of the late troubles, with any relation to the differences that caused them; as among others, three Books of the Civil War it self, reaching as far as the first Battel of Newbury, where the succeeding misfortunes of the party stopt the work; for it is so uncustomary, as to become almost ridiculous, to make Lawrels for the Conquered. Now though in all Civil Dissentions, when they break into open hostilities, the War of the Pen is allowed to accompany that of the Sword, and every one is in a maner obliged with his Tongue, as well as Hand, to serve and assist the side which he engages in; yet when the event of battel, and the unaccountable Will of God has determined the controversie, and that we have submitted to the conditions of the Conqueror, we must lay down our Pens as well as Arms, we must march out of our Cause it self, and dismantle that, as well as our Towns and Castles, of all the Works and Fortifications of Wit and Reason by which we defended it. We ought not sure, to begin our selves to revive the remembrance of those times and actions for which we have received a General Amnestie, as a favor from the Victor. The truth is, neither We, nor They, ought by the Representation of Places and Images to make a kind of Artificial Memory of those things wherein we are all bound to desire like Themistocles, the Art of Oblivion. The enmities of [(a)4v] Fellow-Citizens should be, like that of Lovers, the Redintegration of their Amity. The Names of Party, and Titles of Division, which are sometimes in effect the whole quarrel, should be extinguished and forbidden in peace under the notion of Acts of Hostility. And I would have it accounted no less unlawful to rip up old wounds, then to give new ones; which has made me not onely abstain from printing any things of this kinde, but to burn the very copies, and inflict a severer punishment on them my self, then perhaps the most rigid Officer of State would have thought that they deserved.
As for the ensuing Book, it consists of four parts: The first is a Miscellanie of several Subjects, and some of them made when I was very young, which it is perhaps superfluous to tell the Reader; I know not by what chance I have kept Copies of them; for they are but a very few in comparison of those which I have lost, and I think they have no extraordinary virtue in them, to deserve more care in preservation, then was bestowed [10] upon their Brethren; for which I am so little concerned, that I am ashamed of the arrogancy of the word, when I said, I had lost them.
The Second, is called, The Mistress, or Love-Verses; for so it is, that Poets are scarce thought Free-men of their Company, without paying some duties, and obliging themselves to be true to Love. Sooner or later they must all pass through that Tryal, like some Mahumetan Monks, that are bound by their Order, once at least, in their life, to make a Pilgrimage to Meca,
        In furias ignémq; ruunt; Amor omnibus idem.
But we must not always make a judgement of their manners from their writings of this kind; as the Romanists uncharitably do of Beza, for a few lascivious Sonnets composed by him in his youth. It is not in this sense that Poesie is said to be a kind of Painting; it is not the Picture of the Poet, but of things and persons imagined by him. He [(b)1] may be in his own practice and disposition a Philosopher, nay a Stoick, and yet speak sometimes with the softness of an amorous Sappho.
        Feret & rubus asper Amomum.
He professes too much the use of Fables (though without the malice of deceiving) to have his testimony taken even against himself. Neither would I here be misunderstood, as if I affected so much gravity, as to be ashamed to be thought really in Love. On the contrary, I cannot have a good opinion of any man who is not at least capable of being so. But I speak it to excuse some expressions (if such there be) which may happen to offend the severity of supercilious Readers; for much Excess is to be allowed in Love, and even more in Poetry; so we avoid the two unpardonable vices in both, which are Obscenity and Prophaneness, of which I am sure, if my words be ever guilty, they have ill-represented my thoughts and intentions. And if, notwithstanding all this, the lightness of the matter here displease any body; he may finde wherewithal to content his more serious inclinations in the weight and height of the ensuing Arguments.
For as for the Pindarick Odes (which is the third part) I am in great doubt whether they wil be understood by most Readers; nay, even by very many who are well enough acquainted with [11] the common Roads, and ordinary Tracks of Poesie. They either are, or at least were meant to be, of that kinde of Stile which Dion. Halicarnasseus calls, M , and which he attributes to Alcaeus: The digressions are many, and sudden, and sometimes long, according to the fashion of all Lyriques, and of Pindar above all men living. The Figures are unusual and bold, even to Temeritie, and such as I durst not have to do withal in any other kinde of Poetry: The Numbers are various and irregular, and sometimes (especially some of the [(b)1v] long ones) seem harsh and uncouth, if the just measures and cadencies be not observed in the Pronunciation. So that almost all their Sweetness and Numerosity (which is to be found, if I mistake not, in the roughest, if rightly repeated) lies in a maner wholly at the Mercy of the Reader. I have briefly described the nature of these Verses, in the Ode entituled, The Resurrection: And though the Liberty of them may incline .a man to believe them easie to be composed, yet the undertaker will finde it otherwise.
        ---Vt sibi quivis
        Speret idem, multum sudet frustráque laboret
        Ausus idem---
I come now to the last Part, which is, Davideis, or an Heroical Poem of the Troubles of David; which I designed into Twelve Books; not for the Tribes sake, but after the Patern of our Master Virgil; and intended to close all with that most Poetical and excellent Elegie of Davids upon the death of Saul and Jonathan: For I had no mind to carry him quite on to his Anointing at Hebron, because it is the custom of Heroick Poets (as we see by the examples of Homer and Virgil, whom we should do ill to forsake to imitate others) never to come to the full end of their Story; but onely so near, that every one may see it; as men commonly play not out the game, when it is evident that they can win it, but lay down their Cards, and take up what they have won. This, I say, was the whole Designe, in which there are many noble and fertile Arguments behinde; as, The barbarous cruelty of Saul to the Priests at Nob, the several flights and escapes of David, with the [(b)2] maner of his living in the Wilderness, the Funeral of Samuel, the love of Abigal, the sacking of Ziglag, the loss and [12] recovery of Davids wives from the Amalekites, the Witch of Endor, the war with the Philistines, and the Battel of Gilboa; all which I meant to interweave upon several occasions, with most of the illustrious Stories of the Old Testament, and to embellish with the most remarkable Antiquities of the Jews, and of other Nations before or at that Age. But I have had neither Leisure hitherto, nor have Appetite at present to finish the work, or so much as to revise that part which is done with that care which I resolved to bestow upon it, and which the Dignity of the Matter well deserves. For what worthier subject could have been chosen among all the Treasuries of past times, then the Life of this young Prince; who from so small beginnings, through such infinite troubles and oppositions, by such miraculous virtues and excellencies, and with such incomparable variety of wonderful actions and accidents, became the greatest Monarch that ever sat upon the most famous Throne of the whole Earth? whom should a Poet more justly seek to honor, then the highest person who ever honored his Profession? whom a Christian Poet, rather then the man after Gods own heart, and the man who had that sacred preeminence above all other Princes, to be the best and mightiest of that Royal Race from whence Christ himself, according to the flesh, disdained not to descend ? When I consider this, and how many other bright and magnificent subjects of the like nature, the Holy Scripture affords, and proffers, as it were, to Poesie, in the wise managing and illustrating whereof, the Glory of God Almighty might be joyned with the singular utility and noblest delight of Mankinde: It is not without grief and indignation that I behold that Divine Science employing all her inexhaustable riches of Wit and Eloquence, either in the wicked and beggarly Flattery of great persons, or the unmanly Idolizing of Foolish Women, or the wretched affectation of scurril Laughter, or at best on the confused antiquated Dreams of senseless Fables and Metamorphoses. Amongst all holy and consecrated things which the Devil ever stole and alienated from the service of the Deity; as Altars, Temples, Sacrifices, Prayers, and the like; there is none that he so universally, and so long usurpt, as Poetry. It is time to recover it out of the Tyrants hands, and to restore it to [(b)2v] the Kingdom of God, who is the Father of it. It is time to Baptize it in Jordan, for it will never become [13] clean by bathing in the Waters of Damascus. There wants, methinks, but the Conversion of That, and the Jews, for the accomplishing of the Kingdom of Christ. And as men before their receiving of the Faith, do not without some carnal reluctancies, apprehend the bonds and fetters of it, but finde it afterwards to be the truest and greatest Liberty: It will fare no otherwise with this Art, after the Regeneration of it ; it will meet with wonderful variety of new, more beautiful, and more delightful Objects; neither will it want Room, by being confined to Heaven. There is not so great a Lye to be found in any Poet, as the vulgar conceit of men, that Lying is Essential to good Poetry. Were there never so wholesome Nourishment to be had (but, alas, it breeds nothing but Diseases) out of these boasted Feasts of Love and Fables; yet, methinks, the unalterable continuance of the Diet should make us Nauseate it: For it is almost impossible to serve up any new Dish of that kinde. They are all but the Cold-meats of the Antients, new-heated, and new set forth. I do not at all wonder that the old Poets made some rich crops out of these grounds; the heart of the Soil was not then wrought out with continual Tillage: But what can we expect now, who come a Gleaning, not after the first Reapers, but after the very Beggars? Besides, though those mad stories of the Gods and Heroes, seem in themselves so ridiculous; yet they were then the whole Body (or rather Chaos) of the Theologie of those times. They were believed by all but a few Philosophers, and perhaps some Atheists, and served to good purpose among the vulgar, (as pitiful things as they are) in strengthening the authority of Law with the terrors of Conscience, and expectation of certain rewards, and unavoidable punishments. There was no other Religion, and therefore that was better then none at all. But to us who have no need of them, to us who deride their folly, and are wearied with their impertinencies, they ought to appear no [(b)3] better arguments for Verse, then those of their worthy Successors, the Knights Errant. What can we imagine more proper for the ornaments of Wit or Learning in the story of Deucalion, then in that of Noah? why will not the actions of Sampson afford as plentiful matter as the Labors of Hercules? why is not Jeptha's Daughter as good a woman as Iphigenia? and the friendship of David and Jonathan more worthy celebration, then that of Theseus and [14] Pirithous? Does not the passage of Moses and the Israelites Holy Land, yield incomparably more Poetical variety, then the voyages of Ulysses or Aeneas? Are the obsolete threadbare tales of Thebes and Troy, half so stored with great, heroical and supernatural actions (since Verse will needs finde or make such) as the wars of Joshua, of the Judges, of David, and divers others? Can all the Transformations of the Gods, give such copious hints to flourish and expatiate on, as the true Miracles of Christ, or of his Prophets, and Apostles? what do I instance in these few particulars? All the Books of the Bible are either already most admirable, and exalted pieces of Poesie, or are the best Materials in the world for it. Yet, though they be in themselves so proper to be made use of for this purpose; None but a good Artist will know how to do it neither must we think to cut and polish Diamonds with so little pains and skill as we do Marble. For if any man design to compose a Sacred Poem, by onely turning a story of the Scripture, like Mr. Quarles's, or some other godly matter, like Mr. Heywood of Angels, into Rhyme; He is so far from elevating of Poesie, that he onely abases Divinity. In brief, he who can write a prophane Poem well, may write a Divine one better; but he who can do that but ill, will do this much worse. The same fertility of Invention, the same wisdom of Disposition; the same Judgement in observance of Decencies, the same lustre and vigor of Elocution; the same modesty and majestie of Number; briefly the same kinde of Habit, is required to both ; only this latter allows better stuff, and therefore would [(b)3v] look more deformedly, if ill drest in it. I am farre from assuming to my self to have fulfilled the duty of this weighty undertaking: But sure I am, that there is nothing yet in our Language (nor perhaps in any) that is in any degree answerable to the Idea that I conceive of it. And I shall be ambitious of no other fruit from this weak and imperfect attempt of mine, but the opening of a way to the courage and industry of some other persons, who may be better able to perform it throughly and succesfully.

Preface ("Pindarique Odes," 1656)

IF a man should undertake to translate Pindar word for word, it would be thought that one Mad-man had translated another; as may appear, when a person who understands not the Original, reads the verbal Traduction of him into Latin Prose, then which nothing seems more Raving. And sure, Rhyme, without the addition of Wit, and the Spirit of Poetry (quod nequeo monstrare, & sentio tantùm) would but make it ten times more Distracted then it is in Prose. We must consider in Pindar the great difference of time betwixt his age and ours, which changes, as in Pictures, at least the Colours of Poetry, the no less difference betwixt the Religions and Customs of our Countreys, and a thousand particularities of places, persons, and manners, which do but confusedly appear to our eyes at so great a distance. And lastly, (which were enough alone for my purpose) we must consider that our Ears are strangers to the Musick of his Numbers, which sometimes (especially in Songs and Odes) almost without any thing else, makes an excellent Poet; for though the Grammarians and Criticks have labored to reduce his Verses into regular feet and measures (as they have also those of the Greek and Latine Comedies) yet in effect they are little better then Prose to our Ears. And I would gladly know what applause our best pieces of English Poesie could expect from a Frenchman or Italian, if converted faithfully, and word for word, into French or Italian Prose. And when we have considered all this, we must needs confess, that after all these losses sustained by Pindar, all we can adde to him by our wit or invention (not deserting still his subject) is not like to make him a Richer man then he was in his own Countrey. This is in some measure to be applyed to to all Translations; and the not observing of it, is the cause that all which ever I yet saw, are so much inferior to their Originals. The like happens [156] too in Pictures, from the same root of exact Imitation; which being a vile and unworthy kinde of Servitude, is incapable of producing any thing good or noble. I have seen Originals both in Painting and Poesie, much more beautiful then their natural Objects; but I never saw a Copy better than the Original, which indeed cannot be otherwise; for men resolving in no case to shoot beyond the Mark, it is a thousand to one if they shoot not short of it. It does not at all trouble me that the Grammarians perhaps will not suffer this [Aaa2v] libertine way of rendring foreign Authors, to be called Translation; for I am not so much enamoured of the Name Translator, as not to wish rather to be Something Better, though it want yet a Name. I speak not so much all this, in defence of my maner of Translating, or Imitating (or what other Title they please) the two ensuing Odes of Pindar; for that would not deserve half these words, as by this occasion to rectifie the opinion of divers men upon this matter. The Psalms of David, which I believe to have been in their Original, to the Hebrews of his time, though not to our Hebrews of Buxtorfius his making, the most exalted pieces of Poesie) are a great example of what I have said; all the Translators of which (even Mr. Sands himself; for in despight of popular error, I will be bold not to except him) for this very reason, that they have not sought to supply the lost Excellencies of another Language with new ones in their own; are so far from doing honour, or at least justice to that Divine Poet, that, methinks, they revile him worse then Shimei. And Bucanan himself (though much the best of them all, and indeed a great Person) comes in my opinion no less short of David, then his Countrey does of Judaea. Upon this ground, I have in these two Odes of Pindar taken, left out, and added what I please ; nor make it so much my aim to let the Reader know precisely what he spoke, as what was his way and manner of speaking; which has not been yet (that I know of) introduced into English, though it be the noblest and highest kind of writing in Verse; and which might, perhaps, be put into the List of Pancirollus, among the lost Inventions of Antiquity. This Essay is but to try how it will look in an English habit: for which experiment, I have chosen one of his Olympique, and another of his Nemaean Odes; which are as followeth.

Cowley's Preface to Plantarum libri duo (1662, along with N. Tate's preface)  //  Cowley's Essays  //  Lives by Sprat and Johnson (1668/1779)

Elegies on the Death (1667)  //   Other Verses on Cowley  //  In Cowley's Shade  //  Shadowed Meanings in Dendrologia (1640-50)

Modern critical reckonings with Cowley  //  Back to Texts, Editions, and Early Illustrations