The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

Ode 1. On the praise of Poetry
from Sylva, Poems Part II: Juvenilia (editor's copy)

'Tis not a Pyramide of Marble stone,
    Though high as our ambition,
'Tis not a Tombe cut out in Brasse, which can
    Give life to th'ashes of a man,
But Verses onely; they shall fresh appeare,
    Whil'st there are men to reade, or heare.
When Time shall make the lasting Brasse decay,
    And eate the Pyramide away,
Turning that Monument wherein men trust
    Their names, to what it keepes, poore dust:  10
Then shall the Epitaph remaine, and be
    New graven in Eternitie.
Poets by death are conquered, but the wit
    Of Poets triumph over it.
What cannot Verse? When Thracian Orpheus tooke
    His Lyre, and gently on it strooke,
The learned stones came dancing all along,
    And kept time to the charming song.
With artificiall pace the Warlike Pine,
    Th'Elme, and his Wife the Ivy twine,  20
With all the better trees, which erst had stood
    Unmov'd, forsooke their native Wood.
The Lawrell to the Poets hand did bow,
    Craving the honour of his brow:
And every loving arme embrac'd, and made
    With their officious leaves a shade.
The beasts too strove his auditors to be,
    Forgetting their old Tyrannie.
The fearefull Hart next to the Lion came,
    And Wolfe was Shepheard to the Lambe.  30
Nightingales, harmlesse Syrens of the ayre,
    And Muses of the place, were there.
Who when their little windpipes they had found
    Unequall to so strange a sound,
O'recome by art and griefe they did expire,
    And fell upon the conquering Lyre.
Happy, ô happy they, whose Tombe might be,
    Mausolus, envied by thee!

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