The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

The Ecstasie
from Pindarique Odes  [XI.],  Poems (1656; editor's copy)

I Leave Mortality, and things below;
I have no time in Complements to waste,
         Farewel to'ye all in haste,
         For I am call'd to go.
   A Whirlwind bears up my dull Feet,
   Th'officious Clouds beneath them meet.
         And (Lo!) I mount, and (Lo!)
How small the biggest Parts of Earths proud Tittle show!
Where shall I find the noble Brittish Land?
Lo, I at last a Northern Spec espie,      10
   Which in the Sea does lie,
   And seems a Grain o'th' Sand!
         For this will any sin, or Bleed?
         Of Civil Wars is this the Meed?
   And is it this, alas, which we
(Oh Irony of Words!) do call Great Britainie?
I pass by th'arched Magazins, which hold
Th' eternal stores of Frost, and Rain, and Snow;
         Dry, and secure I go,
         Nor shake with Fear, or Cold.      20
   Without affright or wonder
   I meet Clouds charg'd with Thunder,
         And Lightnings in my way
Like harmless Lambent Fires about my Temples play.
Now into'a gentle Sea of rowling Flame
I plunge my'ascents, and still mount higher there,
         As Flames mount up through aire.
         So perfect, yet so tame,
   So great, so pure, so bright a fire
   Was that unfortunate desire,      30
         My faithful Breast did cover,
Then, when I was of late a wretched Mortal Lover.
Through several Orbs which one fair Planet bear,
Where I behold distinctly as I pass
         The Hints of Galilæos Glass,
         I touch at last the spangled Sphære.
   Here all th'extended Skie
   Is but one Galaxie,
         'Tis all so bright and gay,
And the joynt Eyes of Night make up a perfect Day.      40
Where am I now? Angels and God is here;
An unexhausted Ocean of delight
         Swallows my senses quite,
         And drowns all What, or How, or Where.
   Not Paul, who first did thither pass,
   And this great Worlds Columbus was,
         The tyrannous pleasure could express.
Oh 'tis too much for Man! but let it ne're be less.
The mighty' Elijah mounted so on high,
That second Man, who leapt the Ditch where all      50
         The rest of Mankind fall,
         And went not downwards to the skie.
   With much of pomp and show
   (As Conquering Kings in Triumph go)
         Did he to Heav'en approach,
And wondrous was his Way, and wondrous was his Coach.
'Twas gawdy all, and rich in every part,
Of Essences of Gems, and Spirit of Gold
         Was its substantial mold;
         Drawn forth by Chymique Angels art.      60
   Here with Moon-beams 'twas silver'd bright,
   There double-gilt with the Suns light
         And mystique Shapes cut round in it,
Figures that did transcend a Vulgar Angels wit.
The Horses were of temper'd Lightning made,
Of all that in Heav'ens beauteous Pastures feed,
         The noblest, sprightfulst breed,
         And flaming Mains their Necks array'd.
   They all were shod with Diamond,
   Not such as here are found,      70
         But such light solid ones as shine
On the Transparent Rocks o'th' Heaven Chrystalline.
Thus mounted the great Prophet to the skies;
Astonisht Men who oft had seen Stars fall,
         Or that which so they call,
         Wondred from hence to see one rise.
   The soft Clouds melted him a way,
   The Snow and Frosts which in it lay
         A while the sacred footsteps bore,
The Wheels and Horses Hoofs hizzd as they past them ore.      80
He past by th' Moon and Planets, and did fright
All the Worlds there which at this Meteor gaz'ed,
         And their Astrologers amaz'd
         With th'unexampled sight.
   But where he stopt will nere be known,
   Till Phœnix Nature aged grown
         To'a better Being do aspire,
And mount herself, like Him, to'Eternitie in Fire.

Click here for a facsimile sequence of Cowley's elaborate prose notes; the verse text has been normalized in the same way as Cowley's "Hymn to Light."
Pindarique Odes Preface  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  /   Return to The Works on the Web