Abraham Cowley
Parmigianino. Pallas Athene, 1539.
Parmigianino. Pallas Athene, 1539.
The Royal Collection, Windsor.

Against Fruition          

No; thou'rt a fool, I'll swear, if e'er thou grant; 
Much of my veneration thou must want, 
When once thy kindness puts my ignorance out, 
For a learn'd age is always least devout. 
Keep still thy distance; for at once to me                                5
Goddess and woman too thou canst not be; 
Thou'rt queen of all that sees thee, and as such 
Must neither tyrannize nor yield too much; 
Such freedom give as may admit command, 
But keep the forts and magazines in thine hand.                 10
Thou'rt yet a whole world to me, and dost fill 
My large ambition; but 'tis dang'rous still, 
Lest I like the Pellæan prince* should be, 
And weep for other worlds, having conquered thee. 
When Love has taken all thou hast away,                             15
His strength by too much riches will decay. 
Thou in my fancy dost much higher stand 
Than women can be placed by Nature's hand; 
And I must needs, I'm sure, a loser be, 
To change thee, as thou'rt there, for very thee.                   20
Thy sweetness is so much within me placed, 
That shouldst thou nectar give, 'twould spoil the taste. 
Beauty at first moves wonder and delight; 
'Tis Nature's juggling trick to cheat the sight; 
We admire it, whilst unknown, but after more                     25
Admire ourselves for liking it before. 
Love, like a greedy hawk, if we give way, 
Does overgorge himself with his own prey; 
Of very hopes a surfeit he'll sustain 
Unless by fears he cast them up again:                                   30
His spirit and sweetness dangers keep alone; 
If once he lose his sting, he grows a drone.

* Alexander the Great.

Ben Jonson and the Cavalier Poets. Hugh Maclean, Ed.
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1974. 340.

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