The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

The Given Love
from The Mistress, Poems (1656; editor's copy)

I'LL on; for what should hinder me
From Loving, and Enjoying Thee?
Thou canst not those exceptions make,
Which thin-sould, under-mortals take;
That my Fate's too mean and low;
'Twere pity I should love thee so,
If that dull cause could hinder me
In Loving, and Enjoying thee.
It does not me a whit displease,
That the rich all honours seize;  10
That you all Titles make your own,
Are Valiant, Learned, Wise alone.
But if you claim o're Women too
The power which over Men ye do;
If you alone must Lovers be;
For that, Sirs, you must pardon me.
Rather then lose what does so near
Concern my Life and Being here,
I'll some such crooked ways invent,
As you, or your Fore-fathers went:  20
I'll flatter or oppose the King,
Turn Puritan, or Any Thing;
I'll force my Mind to arts so new:
Grow Rich, and Love as well as You.
But rather thus let me remain,
As Man in Paradise did reign;
When perfect Love did so agree
With Innocence and Povertie.
Adam did no Joynture give,
Himself was Joynture to his Eve:  30
Untoucht with Av'arice yet or Pride,
The Rib came freely back to 'his side.
A curse upon the man who taught
Women, that Love was to be bought;
Rather dote only on your Gold;
And that with greedy av'arice hold;
For if Woman too submit
To that, and sell her self for it,
Fond Lover, you a Mistress have
Of her, that's but your Fellow-slave.  40
What should those Poets mean of old
That made their God to woo in Gold?
Of all men sure They had no cause
To bind Love to such costly Lawes;
And yet I scarcely blame them now;
For who, alas, would not allow,
That Women should such gifts receive,
Could They, as He, Be what They give.
If thou, my Dear, Thy self shouldst prize,
Alas, what value would suffize?  50
The Spaniard could not do't, though he
Should to both Indies joynture thee.
Thy beauties therefore wrong will take,
If thou shouldst any bargain make;
To give All will befit thee well;
But not at Under-Rates to sell.
Bestow thy Beauty then on me,
Freely, as Nature gave't to Thee;
'Tis an exploded Popish thought
To think that Heaven may be bought.  60
Pray'rs, Hymns, and Praises are the way;
And those my thankful Muse shall pay;
Thy Body in my verse enshrin'd,
Shall grow immortal as thy Mind.
I'll fix thy title next in fame
To Sacharissas well-sung name.
So faithfully will I declare
What all thy wondrous beauties are,
That when at the last great Assise,
All Women shall together rise,  70
Men strait shall cast their eyes on Thee
And know at first that Thou art Shee.

This text normalized in the same way as Cowley's "Hymn to Light."
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