The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

Ode 6. Upon the shortnesse of Mans life
from Sylva, Poems Part II: Juvenilia (editor's copy)

Marke that swift Arrow how it cuts the ayre,
    How it out-runnes thy hunting eye,
    Use all perswasions now, and try
If thou canst call it backe, or stay it there.
    That way it went, but thou shalt find
    No tract of 't left behind.
Foole 'tis thy life, and the fond Archer, thou,
    Of all the time thou'st shot away
    Ile bid thee fetch but yesterday,
And it shall be too hard a taske to doe.  10
    Besides repentance, what canst find
    That it hath left behind?
Our life is carried with too strong a tyde,
    A doubtfull Cloud our substance beares,
    And is the Horse of all our yeares.
Each day doth on a winged whirle-wind ride.
    Wee and our Glasse run out, and must
    Both render up our dust.
But his past life who without griefe can see,
    Who never thinkes his end too neere,  20
    But sayes to Fame, thou art mine Heire.
That man extends lifes naturall brevity,
    This is, this is the onely way
    T' out-live Nestor in a day.

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