The Abraham Cowley Text and Image Archive

Mr. Cowley's Book presenting it self to the University Library of Oxford
from Works (1668; editor's copy)

HAil Learnings Pantheon! Hail the sacred Ark
Where all the World of Science do's imbarque!
Which ever shall withstand, and hast so long withstood,
         Insatiate Times devouring Flood.
Hail Tree of Knowledg, thy leaves Fruit! which well
Dost in the midst of Paradise arise,
         Oxford the Muses Paradise,
From which may never Sword the blest expell.
Hail Bank of all past Ages! where they lye
T' inrich with interest Posterity!  10
         Hail Wits Illustrious Galaxy!
Where thousand Lights into one brightness spread;
Hail living University of the Dead!
Unconfus'd Babel of all tongues, which er'e
The mighty Linguist Fame, or Time the mighty Traveler,
         That could speak, or this could hear.
Majestick Monument and Pyramide,
Where still the shapes of parted Souls abide
Embalm'd in verse, exalted souls which now
Enjoy those Arts they woo'd so well below,  20
         Which now all wonders plainly see,
         That have been, are, or are to be,
         In the mysterious Library,
The Beatifick Bodley of the Deity.
Will you into your Sacred throng admit
         The meanest British Wit?
You Gen'ral Councel of the Priests of Fame,
         Will you not murmur and disdain,
         That I place among you claim,
         The humblest Deacon of her train?  30
Will you allow me th' honourable chain?
         The chain of Ornament which here
         Your noble Prisoners proudly wear;
A Chain which will more pleasant seem to me
Than all my own Pindarick Liberty:
Will ye to bind me with those mighty names submit,
         Like an Apocrypha with holy Writ?
What ever happy book is chained here,
No other place or People need to fear;
His Chain's a Pasport to go ev'ry where.  40
         As when a seat in Heaven,
Is to an unmalicious Sinner given,
         Who casting round his wondring eye,
Does none but Patriarchs and Apostles there espye;
         Martyrs who did their lives bestow,
         And Saints who Martyrs liv'd below;
With trembling and amazement he begins,
To recollect his frailties past and sins,
         He doubts almost his Station there,
His soul sayes to it self, How came I here?  50
It fares no otherwise with me
When I my self with conscious wonder see,
Amidst this purifi'd elected Companie.
         With hardship they, and pain,
         Did to this happiness attain:
No labour I, nor merits can pretend,
I think Predestination only was my friend.
Ah, that my Author had been ty'd like me
To such a place, and such a Companie!
Instead of sev'ral Countries, sev'ral Men,  60
         And business which the Muses hate,
He might have then improv'd that small Estate,
Which nature sparingly did to him give,
         He might perhaps have thriven then,
And setled, upon me his Child, somewhat to live.
'T had happier been for him, as well as me,
         For when all, (alas) is done,
We Books, I mean, You Books, will prove to be
The best and noblest conversation.
         For though some errors will get in,  70
         Like Tinctures of Original sin:
         Yet sure we from our Fathers wit
         Draw all the strength and Spirit of it:
Leaving the grosser parts for conversation,
As the best blood of Man's imploy'd in generation.

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