The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

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

I Try'd if Books would cure my Love, but found
   Love made them Non-sense all.
I'apply'd Receipts of Business to my wound,
   But stirring did the pain recall.
As well might men who in a Feaver fry,
   Mathematique doubts debate,
As well might men, who mad in darkness ly,
   Write the Dispatches of a State.
I try'd Devotion, Sermons, frequent Prayer,
   But those did worse than useless prove;  10
For Pray'rs are turn'd to Sin in those who are
   Out of Charity, or in Love.
I try'd in Wine to drown the mighty care;
   But Wine, alas, was Oyl to th' fire.
Like Drunkards eyes, my troubled Fancy there
   Did double the Desire.
I try'd what Mirth, and Gayety would do,
   And mixt with pleasant Companies;
My Mirth did graceless and insipid grow,
   And 'bove a Clinch it could not rise.  20
Nay, God forgive me for't, at last I try'd
   'Gainst this some new desire to stir,
And lov'd again, but 'twas where I espy'd
   Some faint Resemblances of Her.
The Physick made me worse with which I strove
   This Mortal Ill t'expell,
As wholesome Med'icines the Disease improve,
   There where they work not well.

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