The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

On the death of Mrs. Katherine Philips
from Works (1668; editor's copy)

CRuel disease! Ah, could it not suffice
Thy old and constant spight to exercise
Against the gentlest and the fairest Sex,
Which still thy Depredations most do vex?
         Where stil thy Malice most of all
(Thy Malice or thy Lust) does on the fairest fall?
And in them most assault the fairest place,  [1668: farest
The Throne of Empress Beauty, ev'n the Face?
There was enough of that here to asswage,
(One would have thought) either thy Lust or Rage:  10
Was't not enough, when thou, prophane Disease,
         Didst on this Glorious Temple seize.
Was't not enough, like a wild Zealot, there,
All the rich outward Ornaments to tear,
Deface the innocent pride of beauteous Images?
Was't not enough thus rudely to defile
But thou must quite destroy the goodly Pile?
And thy unbounded Sacriledge commit
On th' inward Holiest Holy of her Wit?
Cruel disease! There thou mistook'st thy power;  20
         No Mine of Death can that devour,
On her embalmed Name it will abide
         An everlasting Pyramide,
As high as Heav'n the top, as Earth, the Basis wide.
All Ages past, record, all Countreys now,
In various kinds such equal Beauties show,
         That ev'n Judge Paris would not know
On whom the Golden Apple to bestow,
Though Goddesses to' his sentence did submit
Women and Lovers would appeal from it:  30
Nor durst he say, Of all the Female race,
         This is the Sovereign Face.
And some (though these be of a kind that's Rare,
That's much, ah, much less frequent then the Fair)
So equally renown'd for Virtue are,
That it the Mother of the Gods might pose,
When the best Woman for her guide she chose.
         But if Apollo should design
         A Woman Laureat to make,
Without dispute he would Orinda take,  40
         Though Sappho and the famous Nine
         Stood by, and did repine.
         To be a Princess or a Queen
Is Great; but 'tis a Greatness always seen;
The World did never but two Women know,
Who, one by fraud, th' other by wit did rise
To the two tops of Spiritual Dignities,
One Female Pope of old, one Female Poet now.
Of Female Poets who had names of old
         Nothing is shown, but only Told,  [1668: Gold  50
And all we hear of them perhaps may be
Male Flatt'ry only, and Male-Poetry.
Few minutes did their Beauties Lightning waste,
The Thunder of their voice did longer last,
         But that too soon was past.
The certain proofs of our Orinda's wit,
In her own lasting Characters are writ,
And they will long my praise of them survive,
         Though long perhaps too that may live.
The Trade of Glory mannag'd by the Pen  60
Though great it be, and every where is found
Does bring in but small profit to us Men;
'Tis by the number of the sharers drown'd.
Orinda on the Female coasts of Fame,
Ingrosses all the Goods of a Poetique Name.
         She does no Partner with her see,  [1668: not
Does all the business there alone, which we
Are forc'd to carry on by a whole Company.
But Wit's like a Luxuriant Vine;  [1668: Luxurian
         Unless to Virtue's prop it joyn,  70
         Firm and Erect towards Heaven bound;
Though it with beauteous Leaves and pleasant Fruit be crown'd,
It lies deform'd, and rotting on the Ground.
         Now Shame and Blushes on us all,
         Who our own Sex Superior call!
Orinda does our boasting Sex out-do,
Not in Wit only, but in Virtue too.
She does above our best Examples rise,
In Hate of Vice, and scorn of Vanities.
Never did spirit of the Manly make,  80
And dipt all o're in Learnings Sacred Lake,
A temper more Invulnerable take.
No violent Passion could an entrance find,
Into the tender Goodness of her Mind
Through walls of Stone those furious Bullets may
         Force their impetuous way
When her soft Brest they hit, powerless and dead they lay.
The Fame of Friendship which so long had told
Of three or four illustrious Names of old,
Till hoarse and weary with the tale she grew  90
         Rejoyces now t' have got a new,
         A new, and more surprizing story,
Of fair Leucasias and Orindas Glory.
As when a prudent Man does once perceive
That in some Forrain Countrey he must live,
The Language and the Manners he does strive
         To understand and practise here,
         That he may come, no stranger there
So well Orinda did her self prepare
In this much different Clime for her remove  100
To the glad World of Poetry and Love.

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