The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive


from Part Three of the Works tr. Nahum Tate et al. (1689; editor's copy)

Prose Notes // Image-references keyed to the Latin line-numbers

Plantarum Liber Quartus = De Plantis Liber IV   (opening in new window)

HAPPY the Man whom from Ambition freed [image]
A little Field and little Garden feed. [image]
The Field do's frugal Natures Wants supply,
The Garden furnishes for Luxury.
What further specious Clogs of Life remain,
He leaves for Fools to seek, and Knaves to gain.

This happy Life did th'Old Corycian choose; 142
A Life deserving Maro's noble Muse;
This Life did wise Abdolominus charm,
The mighty Monarch of a little Farm.
While howing weed that on his Walks encroach'd
Great Alexander's Messenger approach'd,
Receive, said He, the Ensigns of a Crown
A Scepter, Mitre, and Sidonian Gown:
To Empire call'd unwillingly he goes,
And longing looks back on his Cottage throws.
Thus Aglaus's Farm did frequent Visits find
From Gods, himself a stranger to Mankind.       [Latin: 20]
Gyges the richest King of former times,
(Wicked and swelling with successful Crimes)       20
Is there, said he, a Man more blest than I?
Thus challeng'd he the Delphick Deity.
Yes, Aglaus, the plain-dealing God reply'd.
Aglaus? Who's he? the angry Monarch cry'd.
Say, is there any King so call'd? there's none.
No King was ever by that Title known.
Or any great Commander of that Name,
Or Heroe who with Gods do's kindred claim:
Or any who does such vast wealth enjoy
As all his Luxury can ne'r destroy.
Renown'd for Arms, for Wealth, or Birth, no Man
Was found call'd Aglaus: Who's this Aglaus then?
At last in the retir'd Arcadian Plains
(Silence and Shades surround Arcadian Swains)
Near Ptophis Town (where he but once had been)
At Plow this Man of Happiness was seen.
In this Retirement was that Aglaus found,
Envy'd by Kings and by a God Renown'd.       [Latin: 40]
Almighty Pow'r, if lawful it may be,
Amongst fictitious Gods to mention Thee,       40
Before encroaching Age too far intrude,
Let this sweet Scene my Life's dull Farce conclude!
With this sweet close my useless toil be blest,
My long toss'd Barque in that calm station rest. [image]
Once more my Muse in wild Digression strays,
Ne'r satisfi'd with dear retirements praise.
A pleasant Road -- but from our purpose wide,
Turn off, and to our Point directly guide.

Of Summer Flow'rs a mighty Host remain,
With those which Autumn musters on the Plain,
Who with Joint forces fill the shining Field,
Grudging that Spring shou'd equal numers yield
To both their Lists; or 'cause some Plants had been
Under the service of both Seasons seen.
Of these, my Muse, rehearse the Chief (for all
Though Mem'ry's Daughter thou can'st ne'r recall)       [Latin: 60]
The spikes of Summers Corn thou mayst as well
Or ev'ry Grape of fruitful Autumn tell.

The flamy Pansie ushers Summer in, 143
His friendly March with Summer does begin;       60
Autumn's Companion too (so Proserpine
Hides half the year and half the year is seen)
The Violet is less beautiful than thee,
That of one colour boasts, and thou of three.
Gold, Silver, Purple are thy Ornament,
Thy Rivals thou mightst scorn hadst thou but scent.

The Hesperis assumes a Violet's Name 144
To that which justly from the Hesper came;
Hesper do's all thy precious sweets unfold,
Which coyly thou didst from the Day with-hold:
In him more than the Sun thou tak'st delight,
To him like a kind Bride thou yieldst thy sweet at Night.

The Anthemis a small but glorous Flower,
Scarce rears his Head yet has a Giant's Tow'r;
Forces the lurking Fever to retreat
(Esconc'd like Cacus in his smoky Seat)       [Latin: 80]
Recruits the feeble joints and gives them ease:
He makes the burning Inundation cease;
And when his force against the Stone is sent
He breaks the Rock and gives the waters vent.       80
Not Thunder finds through Rocks so swift a course,
Nor Gold the Rampir'd Town so soon can force.

Blew-bottle, thee my Numbers fain wou'd raise,
And thy Complexion challenges my Praise,
Thy Countenance like Summer Skies is fair,
But ah! how diff'rent thy vile Manners are!
Ceres, for this excludes thee from my Song,
And Swains to Gods and me a sacred Throng:
A treach'rous Guest; Destruction thou dost bring
To th'hospitable Field where thou dost spring.
Thou bluntst the very Reaper's Sicle, and so
In Life and Death becom'st the farmers Foe.

The Fenel-Flow'r do's next our Song invite, [image]
Dreadful at once, and lovely to the sight:       [Latin: 100]
His Beard all bristly, all unkemb'd his Hair,
Ev'n his wreath'd Horns the same rough aspect bear;
His Visage too a watrish Blew adorns,
Like Achelous, ere his Head wore Horns. [image]
Nor without Reason, (prudent Nature's Care
Gives Plants a Form that might their Use declare)       100
Dropsies it Cures, and makes moist Bodies dry,
It bids the Waters pass, the frighten'd Waters fly,
Do's through the Bodies secret Channels run;
A Water-Goddess in the little World of Man.

But say, Corn-Violet, why thou dost claim
Of Venus Looking Glass the pompous Name?
Thy studded Purple vie, I must confess,
With the most noble and Patrician dress;
Yet wherefore Venus Looking-Glass? that Name
Her Off-spring Rose did ne'r presume to claim.

Antirrhinon, more modest, takes the stile
Of Lions-Mouth, sometimes of Calfsnout vile,       [Latin: 120]
By us Snap-dragaon call'd to make amends.
But say what this Chimera-name intends?
Thou well deservs't it, if, as old Wives say,
Thou driv'st nocturnal Ghosts, and Sprights away.
Why do's thy Head, Napellus, Armor wear? 145
Thy Guilt, perfidious Plant, creates thy fear:
Thy Helmet we cou'd willingly allow,
But thou alas, hast mortal Weapons too!       120
But wherefore arm'd? as if for open Fight;
Who work'st by secret Poyson all thy spight.

Helmet gainst Helmet justly thou dost wear,
Blew Anthora, upon thy lovely Hair; 146 [image]
This cov'ring from felt Wounds thy Front do's shield;
With such a Head-piece Pallas goes to field.
What God to thee such baneful force allow'd,
With such Heroick Piety endow'd?
Thou poyson'st more than e'r Medea slew,
Yet no such Antidote Medea knew.
Nor powerful only 'gainst thy own dire harms,
Thy Virtue ev'ry noxious plant disarms:       [Latin: 140]
Serpents are harmless Creatures made by Thee,
And Africa its self from Poyson free.
Air, Earth and Seas, with secret Taint opprest,
Discharge themselves of the unwelcome Guest;
On wretched Us they shed the deadly Bane,
Who dye by them that should our Life maintain.
Then Nature seems t'have learnt the poys'ning Trade,
Our common Parent our Step-mother made:       140
'Tis then the sickly World perceives thy Aid,
By thy prevailing force the Plague is staid. [image]
A noble strife 'twixt Fate and Thee we find,
That to destroy, thou to preserve Mankind.

Into thy Lists, thou Martial Plant admit,
Goats Rue, Goats-Rue is for thy Squadrons fit.

Thy Beauty Campion, very much may claim, 147
But of Greek-Rose how didst thou gain the Name?
The Greeks were ever priviledg'd to tell
Untruths, they call thee Rose, who hast no smell.
Yet formerly thou wert in Garlands worn,
Thy starry Beams our Temples still adorn.       [Latin: 160]
Thou crown'st our Feasts, where we in Mirth suppose,
And in our Drink allow Thee for a Rose.

The Chalcedonian Soil did once produce
A Lychnis of much greater size and Use;
Form'd like a Sconce, where various branches rise,
Bearing more Lights than Juno's Bird has Eyes. 148
Like those in Palaces, whose Golden Light
Strikes up and makes the gilded Roofs more bright:       160
This, great Mens Tables serves, while that's preferr'd
To Altars and the Gods Celestial Board.
Shou'd Maro ask me in what Region springs
The Race of Flow'rs inscrib'd with Names of Kings,
I answer, that of Flow'rs deserv'dly crown'd
With Royal Titles many may be found,
The Royal Called Loose-strife, Royal Gentian grace 149 150
Our gardens, proud of such a Princely Race.

Soap Wort, though coarse thy Name, thou dost excell 151
In Form, and art enrich'd with fragrant Smell:
As great in Virtue too, for thou giv'st Ease
In Dropsies and Fair Venus foul Disease.       [Latin: 180]
Yet dost not servile offices decline,
But condescend'st to make our Kitchins shine.
Rome's Great Dictator thus, his triumph past,
Return'd to plow, nor thought his Pomp debas'd,
The same right hand guides now the humble Stive,
And Oxen Yoaks, that did fierce Nations drive.

Next comes the Flow'r in figure of a Bell, 152
Thy sportive-meaning Nature who can tell:       180
In these what Musick Flora dost thou find?
Say for what jocund Rites they are design'd.
By us these Bells are never heard to sound,
Our Ears are dull, and stupid is our Mind,
Nature is all a Riddle to Mankind.
Some Flow'rs give Men as well as Gods delight,
These gratifie nor Smell, nor Taste, nor Sight;
Why therefore should not our fifth Sense be serv'd? 153
Or is that pleasure for the Gods reserv'd?

But of all Bell-Flow'rs Bindweed do's surpass, 154
Of brighter Metal than Corinthian Brass.       [Latin: 200]

My Muse grows hoarse and can no longer sing,
But Throat-Wort hasts her kind relief to bring; The Colleges with Dignity enstal
This Flow'r, at Rome he is a Cardinal. 155

The Fox-Glove on fair Flora's Hand is worn, 156
Lest while she gathers Flow'rs she meet a Thorn.

Lov-Apple, though its Flow'r less fair appears,
It's golden Fruit deserves the Name it bears.
But this is new in Love, where the true Crop       200
Proves nothing; all the Pleasure was i' th'Hope.

The Indian Flow'ry-Reed in Figure vies, 157
And Lustre, with the Cancer of the Skies.
The Indian Cress our Climate now do's bear,
Call'd Larks-heel, 'cause he wears a Horse-mans Spur.
This Gilt-spur Knight prepares his Course to run,
Taking his Signal from the rising Sun.
And stimulates his Flow'r to meet the day:
So Castor mounted spurs his Seed away.       [Latin: 220]
This Warriour sure has in some Battel been,
For spots of Bloud upon his Breast are seen.
Had Ovid seen him, how would he have told
His History, a Task for me too bold;
His Race at large and Fortunes had exprest,
And whence those bleeding Signals on thy Brest:
From later Bards such Mysteries are hid,
Nor do's the God inspire, as heretofore he did.

With the same weapon Lark-spur thou dost mount 158
Amongst the Flow'rs, a Knight of high account; [image]
To want those war-like Ensigns were a shame       220
For thee, who kindred dost with Ajax claim:
Of unarm'd Flowers he cou'd not be the Sire,
Who for the loss of Armor did expire: [image]
Of th'ancient Hyacinth thou keep'st the Form, [image]
Those lovely Creatures, that ev'n Phoebus Charm;
In thee those skilful Letters still appear, 159
That prove thee Ajax his undoubted Heir.       [Latin: 240]
That up-start Flow'r, that has usurpt thy Fame,
O'rcome by thee, is forc'd to quit his Claim. 160
The Lily too wou'd fain thy Rival be,
And brings, 'tis true, some signs that well agree,
But in Complexion differs much from thee.
At Spring thou mayst adorn the Asian Bow'rs,
We reap thee here among our Summer Flow'rs.
But Martagon a bolder Challenge draws,
And offers Reason to support his Cause:
Nor did Achilles Armor e'r create,
'Twixt Ajax and Ulysses such debate, [image]
So fierce, so great, as at this day we see,
For Ajax Spoils, 'twixt Martagon and thee.       240

That Bastard Dittany of Sanguine hue 161 [image]
From Hector's reeking Bloud Conception drew,
I cannot say, but still a Crimson stain
Tinctures it's Skin, and colours every Vein;
In Man the three chief Seats it do's maintain,
Defends the Heart, the Stomach, and the Brain. [image] [image]       [Latin: 260]
But all in vain thy Virtue is employ'd,
To save a Town must be at last destroy'd; [image]
In vain thou fight'st with Heav'n and Destiny,
Our Troy must fall, and thou our Hector die. [image]

Next comes the Candy-Tuft, a Cretan Flower, 162
That rivals Jove in Country and in Power.

The Pellitory healing Fire contains,
That from a raging Tooth the Humor drains;
At bottom red, above 'tis white and pure,
Resembling Teeth and Gums, for both a certain Cure.

The Sow-Bread do's afford rich Food for Swine,
Physick for Man, and Garlands for the Shrine.

Mouse-Ear, like to its Name-sake, loves t' abide 163
In places out o' th'way, from Mankind hid.       260
It loves the shade, and Nature kindly lends
A Shield against the Darts that Phoebus sends;
'Tis with such silky Bristles cover'd o'r,
The tend'rest Virgin's Hand may crop the Flow'r.       [Latin: 280]
From all its num'rous Darts no hurt is found,
Its Weapons know to Cure, but not to wound.

Sweet William small, has Form and aspect bright,
Like that sweet Flower that yields great Jove delight;
Had he Majestick bulk, he'd now be stil'd
Jove's flower, and if my skill is not beguil'd,
He was Jove's flower when Jove was but a Child.
Take him with many Flow'rs in one conferr'd,
He's worthy Jove, ev'n now he has a Beard.

The Catch-Fly with Sweet-William we confound,
Whose Nets the stragglers of the swarm surround,
Those viscous Threads that hold th'entangled Prey
From its own treach'rous Entrails force their way.

Three branches in the Barren Wort are found,
Each Branch again with three less Branches crown'd,
The Leaves and Flowers adorning each are three,       280
This Frame must needs contain some Sacred Mystery.

Small are thy Blossoms, double Pelitory,
Which yet united are the Garden's Glory.
Sneezing thou dost provoke, and Love for thee
When thou wert born sneez'd most auspiciously.       [Latin: 300]

But thou that from fair Mella tak'st thy Name,
Thy Front surrounded with a Star-like flame, 164
Scorn not the Meads, for from the Meads are born
Wreaths, which the Temples of the Gods adorn;
Kind sustenance thou yieldst the lab'ring Bee,
When scarce thy Mother Earth affords it thee.
Thy Winter-store in hardest Months is found,
And more than once with Flow'rs in Summer crown'd.
Thy Root supplies the place of Flowers decay'd,
and fodder for the fainting Hive is made.

Behold a Monster loathsome to the Eye, 165
Of slender bulk, but dang'rous Policy,
Eight Legs it bears, three joynts in every Limb,
That nimbly move and dextrously can climb,
Its Trunk (all Belly) round, deform'd and swell'd,       300
With fatal Nets and deadly Poyson fill'd.
For Gnats and wand'ring Flies she spreads her toils;
And Robber-like, lives high on ravish'd spoils.
The City Spider, as more civilis'd,
With this less hurtful practice is suffic'd.       [Latin: 320]
With greater fury the Tarantula
Tho small it self, makes Men and Beasts it's Prey;
Takes first our Reason then our Life away.
Thou Spider-Wort dost with the Monster strive,
And from the conquer'd Foe thy Name derive.
Thus Scipio, when the Worlds third part he won,
While to the Spoils the meaner Captains run,
The only Plunder he desir'd was Fame,
And from the vanquish'd Foe to take his Name.

The Marvail of the World comes next in view,
At home, but stil'd the Marvail of Peru;
(Boast not too much, proud Soil, thy Mines of gold,
Thy Veins much wealth, but more of Poyson hold.)
Bring o'r the Root, our colder Earth has Power
In its full Beauty to produce the Flower;       320
But yields for Issue no prolific Seed,
And scorns in foreign Lands to Plant and Breed.       [Latin: 340]

The Halihock disdains the common size [image] [image]
Of Herbs, and like a Tree do's proudly rise;
Proud she appears, but try her and you'll find
No Plant more mild, or friendly to Mankind:
She gently all Obstructions do's unbind.

The Africans their rich Leaves closely fold, 166
Bright as their Country's celebrated Gold.
Each hollow Leaf, envelop'd, does impart
The form of a gilt Pipe, and seems a work of Art.
Wou'd kind Apollo once these Pipes inspire
They'd give such sounds as should surpass his Lyre.
A more than common date this Flow'r enjoys,
And sees a Month compleated ere she dyes.
These only Fate permits so long to stand,
And crops 'em then with an unwilling Hand,       [Latin: 360]
The Calyx where her fertile Seeds are laid
In likeness of a painted Quiver made,
With store of Arrows too this Quiver's grac'd.       340
And decently on Flora's Shoulder plac'd,
When she in Gardens hunts the Butterfly,
In vain the wretch his Sun-burnt wings do's try,
Secure enough, did Fear not make him fly.
Himself would seem a Flow'r if motionless,
and cheat the Goddess with his gaudy dress.
Retreating, the keen Spike his sides do's goad,
To Earth he falls, a light and unfelt Load.

Such was the Punic Caltha, which of Yore,
Of Juno's Rose the lofty Title bore.
Of famous Carthage, now by Fate bereft,
This last (and surely) greatest Pride is left.
How vain, O Flowers, your hopes and wishes be,
Born like your selves by rapid winds away.
Once you had hopes at Hannibal's Return       [Latin: 380]
From vanquish'd Rome, his Triumphs to adorn,
And ev'n imperious Carthage Head surround,
When she the Mistris of the World were crown'd;
Presum'd that Flora wou'd for you declare,
Tho she that time a Latian Goddess were:       360
But now (alas!) reduc'd to private State,
Thou shar'st, poor Flower, thy Captive
Countrey's Fate.

Why Holly-Rose, dost thou, of slender frame,
And without scent, assume a Rose's Name?
Fate on thy Pride a swift Revenge does bring,
The Day beholds thee dead, that sees thee spring.
Yet to the shades thy Soul triumphing goes,
Boasting that thou didst imitate the Rose.

A better claim Sweet-Cistus may pretend,
Whose sweating Leaves a fragrant Balsam send:
To crop this Plant the wicked Goat presumes,
Whose fetid Beard the precious Balm perfumes:
But in Revenge of the unhallowed Theft,
The Caitiff's of his larded Beard bereft.
Baldness thou dost redress, nor are we sure
Whether the Beard or Balsam gives the cure.       [Latin: 400]

Thy Ointment, Jessamine, without abuse
Is gain'd, yet grave old Sots condemn the use;
Tho' Jove himself, when he is most enrag'd,
With thy Ambrosial Odour is asswag'd:       380
Capricious Men! why should that scent displease,
That is so grateful to the Deities?

Flora her self to th'Orange-Tree lays claim, 167
Calls it her own, Pomona does the same; [image]
Hard words ensue, (for under sense of wrong
Ev'n Goddesses themselves can find a Tongue)
If Apples please you so, Pomona cries,
Take your Love-Apple, and let that suffice,
To claim anothers Right is Harlots trade.
So may a Goddess of an Harlot made.

And on what score, Flora incens'd reply'd,
Were you by kind Vertumnus deify'd? [image] [image]       [Latin: 420]
You kept (no thanks) your Maiden Virtue, when
He was a Matron, when a Youth -- what then?
Such fragrant Fruits as these may Flowers be call'd,
And henceforth with that Name shall be enstall'd.
On sundry sorts of Pulse we do bestow
That Title, though in open field they grow,
As others oft are in the Garden seen,
Witness the everlasting Pulse and Scarlet Bean.       400

The vulgar Beans sweet scent, who does not prize,
With Iv'ry Forehead, and with Jet-black Eyes,
Amongst our Garden-Beauties may appear,
If Gardens only their cheap Crop did bear.
Pythagoras, not rightly understood,
Has left a Scandal on the noble Food:
Take care henceforth, ye Sages, to speak true,
Speak truth, and speak intelligibly too.

Lupine unsteep'd, to harshness does encline,
And like old Cato, is of temper rough,       [Latin: 440]

But drench the Pulse in Water, him in Wine,
They'll lose their sowrness and grow mild enough.
These Flowers, and thousands more, whose num'rous tribe,
And pompous March, 'twere endless to describe.

The Mandrake only imitates our walk,168
And on two Legs erect is seen to stalk. [image]
This Monster struck Bellona's self with aw,
When first the Man-resembling Plant she saw.

The Water-Lily still is wanting here, 169
What cause can Water-Lily have to fear,      420
Where Beauties of inferiour Rank appear?
Her Form excells, and for Nobility
The whole Assembly might her Vassals be:
A Water-Nymph she was, Alcides Bride,170
(Who sprung from Gods, himself now deify'd)
This cost her dear -- by Love of him betray'd,
The Water-Goddess a poor Plant was made;       [Latin: 460]
From this Misfortune she does tristful prove,
And to this hour she hates the name of Love.
All freedom she renounces, Mirth and Play,
That to more close Embraces lead the way:
And since our Flora's former Pranks are know
(Who sprung from Gods, himself now deify'd)
This cost her dear -- by Love of him betray'd,
The Water-Goddess a poor Plant was made;
From this Misfortune she does tristful prove,
And to this hour she hates the name of Love.
All freedom she renounces, Mirth and Play,
That to more close Embraces lead the way:
And since our Flora's former Pranks are known,
(If in a Goddess we such Crimes may own)
In life the common Mistress of the Town.
She scorns at her Tribunal to be seen,
Nor would on terms so scandalous be Queen.
To be from Earth divorc'd she'd rather choose,
And to the Sun her wither'd Root expose.

Thee Maracot a much more sacred Cause 171
From these profane ridic'lous Rites withdraws; [image]       440
With signals of a real God adorn'd,
Poets and Painter's Gods by thee are scorn'd: [image]
T'unfold the Emblems of this mystick Flower [image] [image] [image]
Transcends (alas!) my feeble Muses Power.       [Latin: 480]
But Nature sure by chance did ne'r bestow
A form so diff'rent from all Plants that grow,
Enrob'd with ten white Leaves, the proper dress
Of Virgins Chast and sacred Priestesses.
Twice round her two-fold Selvedge you may view,
A Purple Ring, the sacred Martyrs hue.
Thick sprouting Stems of ruddy Saffron-Grain
Strive to conceal the Flower, but strive in vain,
This Coronet of Ruby-Spikes compos'd,
The thorny Bloodstain'd Crown may be suppos'd;
The Blood-stain'd Pillar too a curious Ey
May there behold, and if you closely pry,
The Spung, the Nails, the Scourge thereon you'll spy,
And knobs resembling a Crown'd Head descry.
So deep in Earth the Root descends, you'd swear,
It meant to visit Hell, and Triumph there;       460       [Latin: 500]
In ev'ry Soil it grows, as if it meant
To stretch in Conquest to the World's extent.


[142] Virg. Georg. 4.


[143] Call'd Flamy because her three colours seen in the flame of wood as in the Rainbow.


[144] Dames Violet call'd Hesperis, because it smells strongest in the Night. Plin. lib. 27.7.


[145] Blew Helmet Flowers, or Monks-hood, so called from its figure.


[146] Counter-Poyson-Monks-hood, or wholesom Helmet flower.


[147] Called Lychnis quod noctu lucet.


[148] The Peacock.


[149] Called Lysimachia from Lysimachus.


[150] Found by Gentius King of Illyricum, where they grow largest.


[151] So called from its cleansing quality, used in washing Cloth and scouring Kitchin Vessels.


[152] Bell-flowers Campanulæ.


[153] The Hearing.


[154] Call great Bind-Weed, or great Bell-Flower.


[155] In Latin call'd Flos Cardinalis.


[156] Flos Digitalis from resembling a Glove.


[157] Canna Indica, or, Flos Cancri.


[158] Consolida Regalis.


[159] The Syllables Ac, As, most visible in this flower.


[160] The common Hyacinth, who wants all the Notes of the old Hyacinth or Ajax Flower.


[161] Fraxinella.


[162] Thlaspi.


[163] Auricula muris, Pilosella.


[164] Start-Wort. Virg. Georg. 4.


[165] Phalangium.


[166] A flower so call'd, and sometimes falsly French Marigolds.


[167] Malus Aurantius


[168] Male and Female.


[169] Nymphæa.


[170] See Nymphæa or Water-Lily.


[171] Flos Passionis Christi. The Passion-Flower, or Virginian Climber. The first of these Names was given it by the Jesuites, who pretend to find in it all the Instruments of our Lord's Passion; not so easily discern'd by men of Senses so fine as they.

Beside the fore-nam'd Candidates, but few
Remain'd, and most of them were modest too.
But where such fragrant Rivals did appear,
Who would have thought to find rank Moly there?
Amongst Competitors of such fair Note
Sure, Garlick only will for Moly Vote.
Yet something 'twas, (and Plants themselves confess
The Honour great) that Homer did express
Her famous Name in his Immortal Song:
Swell'd with this Pride, she presses through the throng.
Deep silence o'r the whole Assembly spreads,
Whilst with unsav'ry Breath her Title thus she Pleads.


[image] [image] [image]
TO find a Name for me the Gods took care,
A Mystick Name, that might my Worth declare,
They call'd me Moly: dull Grammarians sense
Is puzzled with the term -- -
But Homer held Divine Intelligence.
In Greek and Latin both my Name is Great, 172       480
The term is just, but Moly sounds more neat:       [Latin: 520]
My Pow'rs prevented Circes dire Design,
Ulysses but for me had been a Swine; [image]
In vain had Mercury inspir'd his Brain
With Craft, and tipt his wheedling tongue in vain,
Had I not enter'd timely to his Aid,
Thus Moly spoke, and would much more have said
But by mischance (as if some angry Pow'r
Had ow'd her long a shame) a Belch most sowr
Broke from her throat, perfuming all the Court,
And made her Rivals unexpected Sport.
Her pompous Name no longer can take place,
Her Odour proves her of the Garlick Race;
Forthwith with one consent the gibing throng
Set up their Notes, and sung the well-known Song 173

He that to cut his Father's throat
Did heretofore presume,       [Latin: 540]
T'have Garlick cram'd into his Gut
Receiv'd the dreadful Doom.

Flora to silence the tumultuous jest,       500
(Though secretly she smil'd amongst the rest)
That she her self would speak a sign exprest,
Then with sweet Grace into these Accents broke,
Th'unhallow'd place perfuming while she spoke.


[172] , magnum.


[173] Horat. Epod. lib. Od. 3.


HOMER I will not vain or careless call,
Though he no mention makes of me at all,
That he blame-worthy was in this, 'tis true,
But the blind Bard gives other Gods their due.
To doubt his truth were Piety to slight,
Ev'n what of Moly he affirms is right,
I once had such a Flower, but now bereft
O' th'happiness, the Name is onely left.
No sooner Men its wondrous Virtue knew,
But jealous Gods the pow'rful Plant withdrew;
'Tis said that Jove did Mercury chastise
For shewing to Ulysses such a Prize.       [Latin: 560]
To say I saw him do't I'll not presume,
But witness am of Moly's unjust Doom.
Ev'n to the Shades below her Root strikes down,
As she wou'd make th'infernal world her own.
As from their Seats the very Fiends she'd drive,       520
And spight of flames and blasting Sulphur thrive.
Jove saw 't, and said, Since Fire can't stop thy course,
We'll try some Magick water's stronger force.
Then calling Lympha to him, thus at large 174
Unfolds his Mind, and gives the Goddess charge:
Thou know'st, said he, where Cicones reside,
There runs a marv'lous petrifying tide;
Take of that stream (but largely take) and throw
Where-e'r thou seest the wicked Moly grow;
Our Empire is not safe, her Powr's so large;
Whole Rivers therefore on her Head discharge.
Lympha with lib'ral Hand the Liquor pours,
While thirsty Moly her own Bane devours;
Her Stem forthwith is turn'd (O Prodigy) [image] [image]
Into a Pillar; where her Flow'r shou'd be [image] [image]
The sculpture of a Flow'r is onely shown: [image] [image]
Poor Moly thus transform'd to Marble Stone,       [Latin: 580]
The story of her fate do's still present,
And stands in Death her own sad Monument.
Here ended little Moly's mighty Reign,       540
By jealous Gods for too much Virtue slain.

What wonder then if that bold Flow'r did prove 175
The object of his wrath that Rival'd Jove.
That to embrace chast Juno did aspire,
Gallant t'a Goddess, of a God the Sire.
The vig'rous Herb begat a Deity,
A God, like Jove himself for Majesty,
And one that thunders too as loud as he,
With one short Moment's touch begot him too,
That's more than ever threshing Jove cou'd do.
The Flow'r it self appears with Warriours Mien,
(As much as can in growing Plants be seen.)
With stabbing Point and cutting edg 'tis made,
Like warlike weapon, and upon it's Blade
Are ruddy stains like drops of Bloud displa'd.
Its Spikes of Falchion-shape are sanguine too,
Its Stem and Front is all of bloudy hue:
The Root in form of any Shield is spread,       [Latin: 600]

A crested Helmet's plac'd upon it's Head.
Upon his Stalk, Strings, Bow and Arrow's grow,       560
A Horsman's Spur upon his Heel below.
Minerva I would have this Warriour wed,
A Warriour fit for chast Minerva's Bed;
So might she teem, yet keep her Maiden-head.
My Garden had but one of these I own,
And therefore by the name of Phoenix known,
The Herb that could encrease Jove's mighty Breed;
T'its self an Eunuch was and wanted seed.
Grieving that Earth so rich a Prize should want,
I try'd all means to propagate the Plant:
What cannot Wit, what cannot Art fulfil?
At least where Pow'rs Divine wou'd shew their skill.
One tender Bulb another did succeed,
And my fair Phoenix now began to breed;
But mark th'Event, shall I expecting sit,
Cries Jove, till this young Sprout more Gods beget?
To have a Rival in my Heav'n, and see       [Latin: 620]
An Herb-race mingle with Jove's Progeny?
A dreadful and blind Monster then does make; 176
That on his Rival dire Revenge might take;       580
Though less of size, shap'd like a Forest Boar,
And turns him loose into my Garden's store. [image] [image]
What havock did the Savage make that day,
(I weep to think what flow'ry Ruins lay)
With Sulphur's fume I strove to drive him thence,
The fume of Sulphur prov'd too weak defence.
Great Spurge and Assa Fotida I try'd,
In vain, in vain strong Moly's scent apply'd.
Small Vermin did his Ancestors suffice,
When they cou'd catch a Bettle 'twas a Prize,
But such coarse fare this Salvage does despise.
He like a Swine of Epicurus breed,
On the best Dainties of my Soil must feed.
Tulips of ten pounds price (so large and gay
Adorn'd my Bow'r) he'd eat me ten a Day:
For twice the sum I could not now supply
The like, though Jove himself should come to buy.
Yet like a Goddess I the damage bore,
With courage, trusting to my Art for more.
While therefore I contrive to trap the Foe       600       [Latin: 640]
The wretch devours my precious Phoenix too.
Nor to devour the Sire is satisfy'd,
But tears the tender off-spring from his side.
O impious Fact -- here Flora paus'd awhile,
And from her Eyes the Crystal tears distil:
But as became a Goddess checkt her grief,
And thus proceeds, in language sweet and brief;
Thee Moly, Homer did perhaps devour,
For, to Heav'ns shame be't spoke; the Bard was poor.
But in thy praise wou'd ne'r vouchsafe to speak.
From these Examples, Moly, warning take,
To fatal Honours seek not then to rise,
'Tis dangerous claiming Kindred with the Skies:
Thou honest Garlick art, let that suffice,
Of Countrey-growth, own then thy Earthly Race,
Nor bring by pride on Plants or Man, disgrace.
She said -- and to the Lily waiting by,
Gave Sign, that she her Title next should try.


[174] The Goddess of Waters


[175] Lark-Spur. The Herb, by the touch of which Juno was feigned to conceive Mars. Ovid. Fast. lib. etc.


[176] The Mole.


SUCH as the lovely Swan appears
When rising from the Trent or Thame,       620
And as aloft his Plumes he rears,       [Latin: 660]
Despises the less beauteous stream:

So when my joyful Flow'r is born,
And does its native glories show;
Her clouded Rival she does scorn;
Th'are all but soils where Lily's grow.

Soon as the Infant comes to light
With harmless Milk alone 'tis fed;
That from the Innocence of white
A gentle temper may be bred.

The milky Teat is first apply'd
To fiercest Creatures of the Earth,
But I can boast a greater pride,
A Goddess Milk, produc'd my Birth. 177

When Juno in the Days of yore
Did with the great Alcides teem,
Of Milk the Goddess had such store
The Nectar from her Breast did stream.

Whitening beyond the pow'r of Art
The Pavement where it lay,       640
Yet through the Crevises some part       [Latin: 680]
Made shift to find its way.

The Earth forthwith did pregnant prove
With Lily flow'rs supply'd,
That scarce the Milky way above
With her in whiteness vy'd.

Thus did the Race of Man arise,
When sparks of heav'nly fire
Breaking through Crannies in the Skies,
Did Earth's dull Mass inspire.

Happy those Souls that can like Me
Their native White retain;
Preserve their Heav'nly purity,
And wear no guilty stain.

Peace in my Habit comes array'd,
My Dress her Daughters wear;
Hope and Joy in white are clad,
In Sable weeds Despair.

Thus Beauty, Truth and Chastity
Attir'd we always find       660       [Latin: 700]
These in no Female meet, but me,
From me are ne'r disjoin'd.

Nature on many Flow'rs beside
Bestows a muddy white;
On me she plac'd her greatest Pride,
All over clad in Light.

Thus Lily spoke, and needless did suppose
Because of form, her Virtues to disclose.
Then follow'd Lilies of a diff'rent hue,
Who ('cause their beauty less than hers they knew)
From Birth and high Descent their title drew.
Of these the Martagon chief Claim did bring
(The noble Flow'r that did from Ajax spring)
But from the noblest Hero's veins to flow,
Seem'd less than from a Goddess Milk to grow.
At last the drowzy Poppy rais'd her Head
And sleepily began her Cause to plead,
Ambition ev'n the drowzy Poppy wakes,
Who thus to urge her Merit undertakes.


[177] Jupiter in order to make Hercules Immortal, clap'd him to Juno's breats, while she was asleep. The lusty rogue suck'd so hard, that too great gush of Mild coming forth, some spilt upon the Sky, which made the Galaxy or Milky Way; and some out of some which fell to the Earth arose the Lily.


O Sleep, the gentle ease of Grief,       680       [Latin: 720]
Of Care and toil the sweet Relief;
Like Sov'reign Balm thou canst restore
When Doctors give the Patient o'r.

Thou to the wretched art a friend,
A Guest that ne'r does harm intend,
In Cottages mak'st thy aboad,
To th'Innocent thou art a God.

On Earth with Jove bear'st equal sway,
Thou rul'st the Night as Jove the Day;
A middle station thou dost keep
'Twixt Jove and Pluto, pow'rful Sleep!

As thou art just and scorn'st to lie,
Confess before this Company,
That by the Virtue of my Flow'r
Thou holdest thy nocturnal Pow'r.

Why do we call thee Loiterer,
Who fly'st so nimbly through the air;
The Birds on wing confess thy force,
And stop i' th'middle of their course.

Thy Empire as the Ocean wide,       700       [Latin: 740]
Rules all that in the Deep reside;
That moving Island of the Main
The Whale, is fetter'd in thy Chain.

The Desart Lands thy Pow'r declare,
Thou rul'st the Lion, Tyger, Bear,
To mention these alas, is vain,
O'r City-tyrants thou dost Reign.

The Basilisk whose looks destroy,
And Nymph more fatal, if she's coy;
Whose Glances surer Death impart
To her tormented Lover's Heart,

When Sleep commands, their Charms give way,
His more prevailing force obey;
Their killing Eyes they gently close
Disarm'd by innocent Repose.

That careful Jove does always wake       [Latin: 760]
The Poets say; a foul mistake!
For when to Pow'r the wicked rise,
Can Jove look on with open eyes?

When bloud to Heav'n for vengeance calls,       720
So loud it shakes his Palace walls;
Yet does unheard, unanswer'd sue,
Must Jove not sleep, and soundly too?

That Ceres with my Flow'r is griev'd
Some think, but they are much deceiv'd,
For where her richest Corn she sows,
The inmate Poppy she allows.

Together both our seeds does fling,
And bids us both together spring,
Good cause, for my Sleep-giving juice
Does more than Corn to Life conduce.

On us the Mortals freely feed,
Of other Plants there's little need;
Full of Poppy, full of Corn,
Th'Hesperian Gardens you may scorn.

Bread's more refreshing mix'd with me, 178       [Latin: 780]
Honey and I with Bread agree,
Our tast so sweet it can excite
The weak, or sated Appetite.

In Ceres Garland I am plac'd,       740
Me she did first vouchsafe to tast,
When for her Daughter lost she griev'd,
Nor in long time had Food receiv'd.

'Bove all she does extol my Plant,
For if sustaining Corn you want,
From me such kind supplies are sent,
As give both Sleep and Nourishment.

The Reason therefore is most plain
Why I was made the fruitful'st Grain,
The Persian brings not to the Field,
Such Armys as my Camp does yield.

Diseases in all Regions breed,
No corner of the World is freed,
Hard labour ev'ry where we find,
The constant Portion of mankind.

Sick Earth Great Jove beheld with Grief,       [Latin: 800]
And sent me down to her relief,
And 'cause her Ills so fast did breed,
Endu'd me with more fertile Seed.

Thus Poppy spake, nor did as I suppose,
So soon intend her bold Harangue to close,       760
But seiz'd with sleep, here finish'd her Discourse;
Nor cou'd resist her own Lethargick force.
I tell strange things, (but nothing should deter
Since 'tis most certain truth what I aver,)
Nor would I Sacred History profane
As Poets use with what is false and vain.
While Poppy spoke --
Th'Assembly could no longer open keep
Their Eyes, ev'n Flora's self fell fast asleep.
So Daffodils with too much Rain opprest
Recline their drooping Heads upon their Breast.
Zephyr, not long could bear this foul disgrace;
With a brisk Breeze of Air he shook the Place:
Flora, who well her Husbands Kisses knew,
Wak'd first, but rear'd her Head with much ado;
With heavy Motion to her drowsie Eyes       [Latin: 820]
Her Fingers lifts, and what's a Clock, she cryes:
At which the rest (all by degrees) unfold
Their Eye-lids, and the open Day behold.
The Sun Flow'r thinking 'twas for him foul shame       780
To Nap by Day-light, strove t'excuse the blame;
It was not sleep that made him Nod, he said,
But too great weight and largeness of his Head.
Majestick then before the Court he stands,
And silence with Phoebean Voice commands.


[178] In old time the Seed of the White-Poppy parch'd was serv'd up as a Dessert.


[image] [image]
IF by the Rules of Nature we proceed,
And likeness to the Sire must prove the breed,
Believe me Sirs, when Phoebus looks on you,
He scarce can think his Spouse the Earth was true.
No sooner can his Eye on me be thrown,
But he by Styx will swear I am his own. 179
My Orb-like golden Aspect bound with Rays,
The very Picture of his Face displays.
Among the Stars long since I should have place,
Had not my Mother been of mortal Race: [image]
Presume not then, ye Earth-born Mushroom brood [image]       [Latin: 840]
To call me Brother -- I derive my Blood
From Phoebus self, which by my Form I prove,
And (more than by my Form) my filial Love.
I still adore my Sire with prostrate Face,       800
Turn where he turns, and all his motions trace. [image]
Who seeing this (all things he sees) decreed
To you his doubtful, if not spurious breed,
These poorer Climes, to be in dow'r enjoy'd,
Of that Divine Phoebean metal void;
On me that richer soil he did bestow 180
Where Gold, the product of his Beams, does grow. [image]
Among his Treasures well might he assign
A Place for me, his like and living coin.

He said, and bowing twice his Head with Grace
To Flora, thrice to 's Sire, resum'd his Place.
To him succeeds a Flow'r of greater Name,181
Who from high Jove himself deriv'd his Claim.


[179] The usual Oath of the Gods.


[180] America, where grow the largest Sun Flowers.


[181] Flos Jovis.


HOw this Pretender for no Medicine good,
Can be allow'd the Son of Physick's God,       [Latin: 860]
I leave to the wise Judgment of the Court:
With better proofs my Title I support,
Jove was my Sire, to me he did impart
(Who best deserv'd) the Empire of the Heart.
Let him with Golden Aspect please the Eye,       820
A Sov'raign Cordial to the Heart am I.
Not Tagus, nor the Treasures of Peru
Thy boasted Soil, can Grief like me, subdue.
Should Jove once more descend in Golden show'r,
Not Jove cou'd prove so Cordial as my Flow'r.
One Golden Coat thou hast, I do confess,
That's all, poor Plant, thou hast no change of Dress.
Of sev'ral hue I sev'ral Garments wear,
Nor can the Rose her self with me compare:
The gaudy Tulip and the Emony
Seem richly coated when compar'd with thee.
View both their Stocks, my Ward-robe has the same,       [Latin: 880]
The very Croesus I of Colours am.
Rich but in Dress they are, in Virtue poor,
Or keep like Misers to themselves their store,
Most lib'rally my Bounty I impart,
'Tis joy to mine to ease anothers Heart.
Some Flowers for Physick serve, and some for Smell,
For Beauty some -- but I in all excell.

While thus she spake, her Voice, Scent, Dress and Port,       840
Majestick all, drew Rev'rence from the Court:
Well might th'Inferiour Plants concern'd appear,
The very Rose her self began to fear:
Her next of kin a fair and num'rous Host,
Of their Alliance to Carnatian boast.
Then divers more, who, though to fields remov'd
From Garden-Gilly-Flower their Lineage prov'd.
They of the Saffron-house next took their Course,
Of dwarfish Stature, but gigantick force;
Led by their Purple Chief, who dares appear,
And stand the shock of the declining Year.
In Autumn's stormy Months he shews his head,       [Latin: 900]
When tainted Skies their baneful Venom shed.
He scarce begins to speak, when looking round,
The Colchic Tribe amongst his Train he found;182
Hence ye profane, he cry'd, nor bring disgrace
On my fair Title, I disown your Race.
Repaair to Circe's or Medea's Tent,
When on some fatal mischief they are bent,
To baneful Pontus fly, seek kindred there,       860
You who of Flowers, Earth, Heav'n, the scandal are.
Thus did he storm, for tho by Nature mild,
Against the poys'nous Race his Choler boil'd.
His sacred Virtue the Intruders knew,
And from th'Assembly consciously withdrew.


[182] Meadow Saffron, called, Bulbus Strangulatorius and Ephemeron lethale.


WHile others boast their proud Original,
And Sol or Jove
their Parents call,
I claim (contented with such slender Flowers)
No kindred with Almighty Pow'rs.
I from a Constant Lover took my Name, 183
And dare aspire no greater Fame.       [Latin: 920]
Whom after all the Toils of anxious Life
'Twixt Hopes and Fears a tedious strife,
Great Jove to quit me of my hopeless Fire,
(My Patron he, though not my Sire,)
Transform'd me to a smiling Flower at last,
To recompence my Sorrows past.
Live cheerful now, he said, nor only live
Merry thy self, but Gladness give;
Then to my sacred Flow'r with Skill he joyn'd,       880
Stems three or four of Star-like kind,
Made them the Magazines of Mirth and Joy,
What e'r can sullen Grief Destroy.
Gay Humours there, Conceit and Laughter ly,
Venus and Cupid's Armory.
Bacchus may like a Quack give present Ease,       [Latin: 940]
That only strengthens the Disease.
You crush (alas!) the Serpent's Head in vain,
Whose Tail survives to strike again.
All noxious Humours from the Heart I drive,
And spight of Poyson keep alive.
The Heart secur'd, through all the Parts beside
Fresh Life and dancing Spirits glide.
But still 'tis vain to guard th'Imperial Seat,
If to the Lungs the Foe retreat,
If of those Avenues he's once possest,
Famine will soon destroy the rest.
I watch and keep those Passes open too,       [Latin: 960]
For Vital Air to come and go.
Ungrateful to his Friend that Breath must be,       900
That can abstain from praising me.
But having been an Instance of Love's pow'r
To Females still a sacred flow'r,
Tis just that I shou'd now the Womb defend,
And be to Venus Seat a friend.
Gainst all that wou'd the teeming part annoy
My ready Succour I emply,
I ease the lab'ring Pangs, and bring away
The Birth that past its time wou'd stay.
If this Assembly then my Claim suspend,       [Latin: 980]
Who am to Nature such a friend,
Who all that's Good protect, and Ill confound,
If you refuse to have me Crown'd,
If you decline my gentle cheerful sway,
Let my pretended Kinsman come in play, 184
Punish your folly and my wrongs repay.

He said, and shaking thrice his fragrant Head
Through all the Court a Cordial flavour spread:
While of his scatter'd Sweets each Plant partakes,
And on th'Ambrosial scent a Banquet makes.       920
Touch'd with a sense of Joy, his Rivals smil'd,
Ev'n them his Virtue of their Rage beguil'd;
Ev'n Poppy's self, refresh'd, erects her Head,
Who had not heard one word of what he said.

Flower-gentle last, on lofty stem did rise, 185
And seem'd the humble Saffron to despise:
On his high Name and Stature he depends,       [Latin: 1000]
And thus his Title to the Crown defends.


[183] Ovid. Metam. 4.


[184] The foremention'd Bastard-Saffron.


[185] Amaranthus, that never withers.


WHat can the puling Rose or Violet say,
Whose Beauty flies so fast away?
Fit only such weak Infants to adorn,
Who dye as soon as they are born.
Immortal Gods wear Garlands of my Flowers,
Garlands eternal as their Powers,
Nor time that does all earthly things invade
Can make a Hair fall from my head.
Look up, the Gardens of the Sky survey,
And Stars that there appear so gay,
If credit may to certain Truth be giv'n,
They are but th'Amaranths of Heav'n.       940
A transient Glance sometimes my Cynthia throws
Upon the Lily or the Rose,
But views my Plant, astonish'd, from the Sky,
That she should Change, and never I.
Because with Hair instead of Leaves adorn'd,
By some, as if no Flower, I'm scorned,
But I my chiefest Pride and Glory place       [Latin: 1020]
In what they reckon my Disgrace.
My Priv'ledge 'tis to differ from the rest;
What has its like can ne'r be best:
Nor is it fit Immortal Plants shou'd grow
In form of fading Plants below.

That Gods have Flesh and Blood we cannot say,
That they have something like to both we may,
So I resembling an Immortal Power,
Am only as it were a Flower.
Their Plea's thus done, the several Tribes repair,
And stand in Ranks about the Goddess Chair,
Silent and trembling betwixt hope and fear.
Flora, who was of Temper light and free,       960
Puts on a personated Gravity;
As with the grave occasion best might suit,
And in this manner finish'd the dispute.


AMongst the Miracles of ancient Rome,
When Cineas thither did as Envoy come,
Th'August and purpled Senate he admir'd,       [Latin: 1040]
View'd 'em, and if they all were Kings, enquir'd?
So I in all this num'rous throng must own
I see no Head but what deserves a Crown.
On what one Flower can I bestow my Voice,
Where equal Merits so distract my Choice?
Be rul'd by me, the envious Title wave,
Let no one claim what all deserve to have.
Consider how from Roman-Race we spring,
Whose Laws you know wou'd ne'r permit a King.
Can I who am a Roman Deity,
A haughty Tarquin in my Garden see?
Ev'n your own Tribes, if I remember right,
Rejoyc'd when they beheld the Tyrant's flight.
With Gabine slaughter big, think how he slew       980
The fairest Flow'rs that in his Plat-forms grew;
Mankind and you, how he alike annoy'd,
And both with sportive Cruelty destroy'd.
You who are Lords of Earth as well as they
Should Free-born Romans Government display.
Rest ever then a Common-wealth of Flow'rs,       [Latin: 1060]
Compil'd of People and of Senators. [image]
This, I presume, the best for you and me,
With Sense of Men and Gods does best agree.
Lily and Rose this Year your Consuls be
The Year shall so begin auspiciously.
Four Prætors to the Seasons four, I make,
The vernal Prætorship thou, Tulip, take:
Jove's 186 Flow'r the Summer, Crocus 187 Autumn sway,
Let Winter war-like Hellebore obey.
Honour's the sole Reward that can accrue,
Tho short your Office, to your Charge be true.
Your life is short -- the Goddess ended here,
The Chosen, with her Verdict pleas'd appear
The rest with Hope to speed another year. [image]
|       1000


[186] July-flowers.


[187] Saffron.

The End of the Fourth Book

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