The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

On ORINDA's Poems
from Works (1668; editor's copy)

WE allow'd You Beauty, and we did submit
               To all the Tyrannies of it;
Ah! Cruel Sex, will you depose us too in Wit?
            Orinda does in that too raign,
Does Man behind her in Proud Triumph draw,
And Cancel great Apollo's Salick Law.
            We our old Title plead in vain,
Man may be Head, but Woman's now the Brain.
         Verse was Loves Fire-arms heretofore,
         In Beauties Camp it was not known,  10
Too many Arms besides that Conquerour bore:
         'Twas the great Canon we brought down
         T'assault a stubborn Town;
Orinda first did a bold sally make,
         Our strongest Quarter take,
         And so successful prov'd, that she
Turn'd upon Love himself his own Artillery.
Women as if the Body were their Whole,
         Did that, and not the Soul
         Transmit to their Posterity;  20
         If in it sometime they conceiv'd,
         Th' abortive Issue never liv'd.
'Twere shame and pity'Orinda, if in thee
A Spirit so rich, so noble, and so high
         Should unmanur'd, or barren lye.
But thou industriously hast sow'd and till'd
         The fair, and fruitful field;
And 'tis a strange increase, that it does yield.
            As when the happy Gods above
            Meet altogether at a feast,  30
            A secret Joy unspeakably does move,
In their great Mother Cybele's contented breast:
   With no less pleasure thou methinks shouldst see,
         This thy no less immortal Progenie.
         And in their Birth thou no one touch dost find,
            Of th' ancient curse to Woman-kind,
               Thou bringst not forth with pain,
It neither Travel is, nor labour of the brain,
            So easily they from thee come,
               And there is so much room  40
   In th' unexhausted and unfathom'd Womb,
   That like the Holland Countess thou mayst bear
A child for every day of all the fertill year.
   Thou dost my wonder, wouldst my envy raise
If to be prais'd I lov'd more than to praise,
            Where e're I see an excellence,
I must admire to see thy well knit sense,
Thy numbers gentle, and thy Fancies high,
Those as thy forehead smooth, these sparkling as thine eye.
         'Tis solid, and 'tis manly all,  50
         Or rather 'tis Angelical,
         For as in Angels, we
         Do in thy Verses see
   Both improv'd Sexes eminently meet,
They are than Man more strong, and more than Woman sweet.
   They talk of Nine, I know not who,
Female Chimera's that o're Poets reign,
            I ne'er could find that fancy true,
But have invok'd them oft I'm sure in vain:
They talk of Sappho, but alas, the shame!  60
Ill manners soil the lustre of her Fame:
Orinda's inward virtue is so bright,
That like a Lanthorn's fair inclosed Light,
It through the Paper shines where she do's write.
Honour and Friendship, and the generous scorn
            Of things for which we were not born,
(Things that can only by a fond Disease,
Like that of Girles, our vicious Stomachs please)  [1668: out
Are the instructive Subjects of her pen,
            And as the Roman Victory  70
Taught our rude Land, Arts, and Civility,  [1668: out
At once she overcomes, enslaves, and betters Men.
But Rome with all her Arts could ne'r inspire,
            A Female Breast with such a fire.
            The warlike Amazonian train,
Who in Elysium now do peaceful reign,
And wits milde Empire before Arms prefer,
Hope 'twill be setled in their sex by her.
Merlin the Seer, (and sure he would not ly,
            In such a sacred Company,)  [1668: Company,  80
   Does Prophecies of Learn'd Orinda show,
   Which he had darkly spoke so long ago.
   Ev'n Boadicia's angry Ghost
   Forgets her own misfortune, and disgrace,
   And to her injur'd Daughters now does boast,
That Rome's o'recome at last, by a woman of her Race.

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