The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

Some Copies of Verses Translated
Paraphrastically out of

from Miscellanies, Poems (1656; editor's copy)


I'll sing of Heroes, and of Kings;
In mighty Numbers, mighty things,
Begin, my Muse; but lo, the strings
To my great Song rebellious prove;
The strings will sound of nought but Love.
I broke them all, and put on new;
'Tis this or nothing sure will do.
These sure (said I) will me obey;
These sure Heroick Notes will play.
Straight I began with thundring Jove,
And all the'immortal Pow'ers but Love.
Love smil'ed, and from my'enfeebled Lyre
Came gentle airs, such as inspire
Melting love, and soft desire.
Farewel then Heroes, farewel Kings,
And mighty Numbers, mighty Things;
Love tunes my Heart just to my strings.


THe thirsty Earth soaks up the Rain,
And drinks, and gapes for drink again.
The Plants suck in the Earth, and are
With constant drinking fresh and faire.
The Sea itself, which one would think
Should have but little need of Drink,
Drinks ten thousand Rivers up,
So fill'd that they oreflow the Cup.
The busie Sun (and one would guess)
By's drunken firy face no less)
Drinks up the Sea, and when'has don,
The Moon and Stars drink up the Sun.
They drink and dance by their own light,
They drink and revel all the night.
Nothing in Nature's Sober found,
But an eternal Health goes round.
Fill up the Bowl then, fill it high,
Fill all the Glasses there, for why
Should every creature drink but I,
Why, Man of Morals, tell me why?


LIberal Nature did dispence
To all things Arms for their defence;
And some she arms with sin'ewy force,
And some with swiftness in the course;
Some with hard Hoofs, or forked claws,
And some with Horns, or tusked jaws.
And some with Scales, and some with Wings,
And some with Teeth, and some with Stings.
Wisdom to Man she did afford,
Wisdom for Shield, and Wit for Sword.
What to beauteous Woman-kind,
What Arms, what Armour has she'assigne'd?
Beauty is both; for with the Faire
What Arms, what Armour can compare?
What Steel, what Gold, or Diamond,
More Impassible is found?
And yet what Flame, what Lightning ere
So great an Active force did bear?
They are all weapon, and they dart
Like Porcupines from every part.
Who can, alas, their strength express,
Arm'd, when they themselves undress,
Cap a pe with Nakedness?

The Duel.

YEs, I will love then, I will love,
I will not now Loves Rebel prove,
Though I was once his Enemy;
Though ill-advis'd and stubborn I,
Did to the Combate him defy,
An Helmet, Spear, and mighty shield,
Like some new Ajax I did wield.
Love, in one hand his Bow did take,
In th'other hand a Dart did shake.
But yet in vain the Dart did throw,
In vain he often drew the Bow.
So well my Armour did resist,
So oft by flight the blow I mist.
But when I thought all danger past,
His Quiver empti'd quite at last,
Instead of Arrow, or of Dart,
He shot Himself into my Heart.
The Living and the Killing Arrow
Ran through the skin, the Flesh, the Blood,
And broke the Bones, and scortcht the Marrow,
No Trench or Work of Life withstood.
In vain I now the Walls maintain,
I set out Guards and Scouts in vain,
Since th' Enemy does within remain.
In vain a Breastplate now I wear,
Since in my Breast the Foe I bear.
In vain my Feet their swiftness try;
For from the Body can they fly?


OFt am I by the Women told,
Poor Anacreon thou grow'st old.
Look how thy Hairs are falling all;
Poor Anacreon how they fall?
Whether I grow old or no,
By th'effects I do not know.
This I know without being told,
'Tis Time to Live if I grow Old,
'Tis time short pleasures now to take,
Of little Life the best to make,
And manage wisely the last stake.

The Account.

WHen all the Stars are by thee told,
(The endless sums of heav'enly gold)
Or when the Hairs are reckon'ed all,
From sickly Autumns Head that fall,
Or when the drops that make the Sea,
Whilst all her Sands thy Counters be;
Thou, then, and Thou alone mayst prove
Th' Arithmeticean of my Love.
An hundred Loves at Athens score,
At Corinth write an hundred more.
Fair Corinth does such Beauties bear,
So few is an Escaping there.
Write then at Chios seventy-three;
Write then at Lesbo's (let me see)
Write me at Lesbos ninety down,
Full ninety Loves, and half a One.
And next to these let me present,
The faire Ionian Regiment.
And next the Carian Company,
Five hundred both Effectively.
Three hundred more at Rhodes and Crete;
Three hundred 'tis I'm sure Complete.
For arms at Crete each Face does bear,
And every Eye's an Archer there.
Go on; this stop why dost thou make?
Thou thinkst, perhaps, that I mistake.
Seems this to thee too great a Summe?
Why many a Thousand are to come;
The mighty Xerxes could not boast
Such different Nations in his Host.
On; for my Love, if thou be'st weary,
Must finde some better Secretary.
I have not yet my Persian told,
Nor yet my Syrian Loves enroll'd,
Nor Indian, nor Arabian;
Nor Cyprian Loves, nor African;
Nor Scythian, nor Italian flames;
There's a whole Map behinde of Names.
Of gentle Loves i'th' temperate Zone,
And cold ones in the Frigid One,
Cold frozen Loves with which I pine,
And parched Loves beneath the Line.


A Mighty pain to Love it is,
And 'tis a pain that pain to miss.
But of all pains the greatest pain
It is to love, but love in vain.
Virtue now nor noble Blood,
Nor Wit by Love is understood,
Gold alone does passion move,
Gold Monopolizes love!
A curse on her, and on the Man,
Who this traffick first began!
A curse on him who found the Oare!
A curse on him who digg'ed the store!
A curse on him who did refine it!
A curse on him who first did coyn it!
A Curse all curses else above
On him, who us'd it first in Love!
Gold begets in Brethren hate,
Gold in Families debate;
Gold does Friendships separate,
Gold does Civil Wars create.
These the smallest harms of it!
Gold, alas, does Love beget.

The Epicure.

FIll the Bowl with rosie Wine,
Around our temples Roses twine,
And let us chearfully awhile,
Like the Wine and Roses smile.
Crown'd with Roses we contemn
Gyge's wealthy Diadem.
To day is Ours; what do we feare?
To day is Ours; we have it here.
Let's treat it kindely, that it may
Wish, at least, with us to stay.
Let's banish Business, banish Sorrow;
To the Gods belongs To morrow.


UNderneath this Myrtle shade,
On flowry beds supinely laid,
With od'orous Oyls my head ore-flowing,
And around it Roses growing,
What should I do but drink away
The Heat, and troubles of the Day?
In this more then Kingly state,
Love himself shall on me waite.
Fill to me, Love, nay fill it up;
And mingled cast into the Cup,
Wit, and Mirth, and noble Fires,
Vigorous Health, and gay Desires.
The Wheel of Life no less will stay
In a smooth then Rugged way.
Since it equally does flee,
Let the Motion pleasant be.
Why do we pretious Oyntments shower,
Nobler wines why do we pour,
Beauteous Flowers why do we spread,
Upon the Mon'uments of the Dead?
Nothing they but Dust can show,
Or Bones that hasten to be so.
Crown me with Roses whilst I Live,
Now your Wines and Oyntments give.
After Death I nothing crave,
Let me Alive my pleasures have,
All are Stoicks in the Grave.

The Grasshopper.

HAppy Insect, what can be
In happiness compar'ed to Thee?
Fed with nourishment divine,
The dewy Mornings gentle Wine!
Nature waits upon thee still,
And thy verdant Cup does fill,
'Tis fill'd where ever thou dost tread,
Nature selfe's thy Ganimed.
Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing;
Happier then the happiest King!
All the Fields which thou dost see,
All the Plants belong to Thee,
All that Summer Hours produce,
Fertile made with early juice.
Man for thee does sow and plow;
Farmer He, and Land-Lord Thou!
Thou doest innocently joy;
Nor does thy Luxury destroy;
The Shepherd gladly heareth thee,
More Harmonious then Hee.
Thee Countrey Hindes with gladness hear,
Prophet of the ripened year!
Thee Phoebus loves, and does inspire;
Phoebus is himself thy Sire.
To thee of all things upon earth,
Life is no longer then thy Mirth.
Happy Insect, happy Thou,
Dost neither Age, nor Winter know.
But when thou'st drunk, and danc'ed, and sung,
Thy fill, the flowry Leaves among   [among. 1656
(Voluptuous, and Wise with all,
Epicuræan Animal!)
Sated with thy Summer Feast,
Thou retir'est to endless Rest.

The Swallow.

FOolish Prater, what do'st thou
So early at my window do
With thy tuneless Serenade?
Well t'had been had Tereus made
Thee as Dumb as Philomel;
There his Knife had done but well.
In thy undiscover'ed Nest
Thou dost all the winter rest,
And dream'est ore thy summer joys
Free from the stormy seasons noise:
Free from th' Ill thou'st done to me;
Who disturbs, or seeks out Thee?
Had'st thou all the charming notes
Of all the woods poetick Throats,
All thy art could never pay
What thou'st ta'ne from me away;
Cruel Bird, thou'st ta'ne away
A Dream out of my arms to day,
A Dream that ne're must equal'd bee
By all that waking Eyes may see.
Thou this damage to repaire,
Nothing half so sweet or faire,
Nothing half so good can'st bring,
Though men say, Thou bring'st the Spring.

This text normalized in the same way as Cowley's "Hymn to Light."
On to "An Elegie upon Anacreon" // Overview of the Anacreontea // Return to The Works on the Web