The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

The 34 Chapter of the Prophet Isaiah
from Pindarique Odes  [XIV.],  Poems (1656; editor's copy)

1    AWake, and with attention hear,
    Thou drowsie World, for it concerns thee near;
             Awake, I say, and listen well,
    To what from God, I, his loud Prophet, tell.
    Bid both the Poles suppress their stormy noise,
    And bid the roaring Sea contain its voyce.
    Be still thou Sea, be still thou Air and Earth,
2    Still, as old Chaos, before Motions birth,
    A dreadful Host of Judgments is gone out;
             In strength and number more      10
             Then e're was rais'd by God before,
    To scourge the Rebel World, and march it round about.
[1]    I see the Sword of God brandisht above;
             And from it streams a dismal ray;
2                I see the Scabbard cast away.
    How red anon with Slaughter will it prove!
             How will it sweat and reek in blood!
3    How will the Scarlet-glutton be oregorged with his food!
             And devour all the mighty Feast!
             Nothing soon but Bones will rest.      20
    God does a solemn Sacrifice prepare;
4             But not of Oxen, nor of Rams,
             Not of Kids, nor of their Dams,
             Not of Heifers, nor of Lams.
    The Altar all the Land, and all Men in't the Victims are,
    Since wicked Mens more guilty blood to spare,
    The Beasts so long have sacrificed bin,
    Since Men their Birth-right forfeit still by Sin,
5    'Tis fit at last Beasts their Revenge should have,
    And Sacrificed Men their better Brethren save.      30
             So will they fall, so will they flee;
    Such will the Creatures wild distraction be,
                When at the final Doom,
             Nature and Time shall both be Slain,
             Shall struggle with Deaths pangs in vain,
    And the whole world their Funeral Pile become.
             The wide-stretcht Scrowl of Heaven, which we
1             Immortal as the Deity think,
2    With all the beauteous Characters that in it
    With such deep Sense by Gods own Hand were writ,      40
    Whose Eloquence though we understand not, we admire,
    Shall crackle, and the parts together shrink
3                Like Parchment in a fire.
    Th'exhausted Sun to th'Moon no more shall lend;
4    But truly then headlong into the Sea descend.
    The glittering Host, now in such fair array,
    So proud, so well appointed, and so gay,
    Like fearful Troops in some strong Ambush ta'ne,
5    Shall some fly routed, and some fall slaine,
6    Thick as ripe Fruit, or yellow Leaves in Autumn fall,      50
    With such a violent Storm as blows down Tree and all.
             And Thou, O cursed Land,
    Which wilt not see the Præcipice where thou dost stand,
             Though thou standst just upon the brink;
    Thou of this poysoned Bowl the bitter Dregs shalt drink.
             Thy Rivers and thy Lakes shall so
                With humane blood oreflow.
    That they shall fetch the slaughter'd corps away,
    Which in the fields around unburied lay,
    And rob the Beasts and Birds to give the Fish their prey.      60
    The rotting corps shall so infect the aire;
    Beget such Plagues, and putrid Venomes there,
             That by thine own Dead shall be slain,
                All thy few Living that remain.
1                As one who buys, Surveys a ground,
    So the Destroying Angel measures it around.
             So careful and so strict he is,
    Lest any Nook or Corner he should miss.
             He walks about the perishing Nation,
    Ruine behind him stalks and empty Desolation.      70
    Then shall the Market and the Pleading-place
1    Be choakt with Brambles and oregrown with grass.
             The Serpents through thy Streets shall rowl,
    And in thy lower rooms the Wolves shall howl,
2    And thy gilt Chambers lodge the Raven and the Owl,
    And all the wing'd Ill-Omens of the aire,
    Though no new-Ills can be fore-boded there.
    The Lyon then shall to the Leopard say,
                Brother Leopard come away;
    Behold a Land which God has giv'en us in prey!      80
    Behold a Land from whence we see
    Mankinde expulst, His and Our common Enemie!
    The Brother Leopard shakes himself, and does not stay.
1,2  The glutted Vulturs shall expect in vain
                New Armies to be slain.
             Shall finde at last the business done,
    Leave their consumed Quarters, and be gone.
                Th'unburied Ghosts shall sadly moan,
3             The Satyrs laugh to hear them groan.
             The Evil Spirits that delight      90
    To dance and revel in the Mask of Night,
    The Moon and Stars, their sole Spectators shall affright.
                And if of lost Mankind
             Ought happen to be left behind,
                If any Reliques but remain,
    They in the Dens shall lurk, Beasts in the Palaces shall raign.

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."
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