The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

Cowley's (incomplete) version of Horace's Epode 2, "Beatus ille qui procul negotiis"
from Cowley's essay "Of Agriculture," Works (1668; editor's copy)

Happy the Man whom bounteous Gods allow
With his own Hand Paternal Grounds to plough!
Like the first golden Mortals Happy he
From Business and the cares of Money free!
No humane storms break off at Land his sleep.
No loud Alarms of Nature on the Deep,
From all the cheats of Law he lives secure,
Nor does th' affronts of Palaces endure;
Sometimes the beauteous Marriageable Vine
He to the lusty Bridegroom Elm does joyn;  10
Sometimes he lops the barren Trees around,
And grafts new Life into the fruitful wound;
Sometimes he shears his Flock, and sometimes he
Stores up the Golden Treasures of the Bee.
He sees his lowing Herds walk o're the Plain,
Whilst neighbouring Hills low back to them again;
And when the Season Rich as well as Gay,
All her autumnal bounty does display.
How is he pleas'd th'encreasing Use to see,
Of his well trusted Labours bend the tree?  20
Of which large shares, on the glad sacred daies
He gives to Friends, and to the Gods repays.
With how much joy do's he beneath some shade
By aged trees rev'rend embraces made,
His careless head on the fresh Green recline,
His head uncharg'd with Fear or with Design.
By him a river constantly complaines,
The Birds above rejoyce with various strains
And in the solemn Scene their Orgies keep
Like Dreams mixed with the Gravity of sleep,  30
Sleep which does alwaies there for entrance wait
And nought within against it shuts the gate.
   Nor does the roughest season of the sky,
Or sullen Jove all sports to him deny.
He runs the Mazes of the nimble Hare,
His well-mouth'd Dogs glad concert rends the air,
Or with game bolder, and rewarded more,
He drives into a Toil,the foaming Bore;
Here flies the Hawk t'assault, and there the Net
To intercept the travailing foul is set.  40
And all his malice, all his craft is shown
In innocent wars, on beasts and birds alone.
This is the life from all misfortune free,
From thee, the Great one, Tyrant Love, from Thee;
And if a chaste and clean,though homely wife
Be added to the blessings of this Life,
Such as the ancient Sun-burnt Sabins were,
Such as Apulia, frugal still, does bear,
Who makes her Children and the house her care,
And joyfully the work of Life does share,  50
Nor thinks herself too noble or too fine
To pin the sheepfold or to milch the Kine;
Who waits at door against her Husband come
From rural duties, late, and wearied home,
Where she receives him with a kind embrace,
A chearful Fire, and a more chearful Face:
And fills the Boul up to her homely Lord,
And with domestic plenty loads the board.
Not all the lustful shel-fish of the Sea,
Drest by the wanton hand of Luxurie,  60
Nor Ortolans nor Godwits nor the rest
Of costly names that glorify a Feast,
Are at the Princely tables better cheer
Than Lamb and Kid, Lettice and Olives, here....

Text based on the editor's copy of Works (1668), and correcting the following errors: l. 34 spots for sports; l. 47 Sun-burn for Sun-burnt; l. 58 Ant for And. This text further normalized in the same way as Cowley's "Hymn to Light."
Jonson's version of the same ode // Return to The Works on the Web