Abraham Cowley

Domenico Fetti. Melancholy, c1620. Galleria dell'Accademia, Venice.
Domenico Fetti. Melancholy, c1620.
Galleria dell' Accademia, Venice."

from "The Mistress"


      BENEATH this gloomy shade,
By Nature only for my sorrows made,
      I'll spend this voice in cries;
      In tears I'll waste these eyes,
      By Love so vainly fed;
So Lust, of old the Deluge punished.
      " Ah wretched youth!" said I;
"Ah, wretched youth!" twice did I sadly cry;
"Ah, wretched youth!" the fields and floods reply.

      When thoughts of Love I entertain,
I meet no words but "Never," and "In vain."
      "Never," alas! that dreadful name
      Which fuels the infernal flame:
      "Never" my time to come must waste;
"In vain" torments the present and the past.
      "In vain, in vain," said I;
"In vain, in vain!" twice did I sadly cry;
"In vain, in vain!" the fields and floods reply.

      No more shall fields or floods do so;
For I to shades more dark and silent go:
      All this world's noise appears to me
      A dull, ill-acted comedy:
      No comfort to my wounded sight,
In the sun's busy and impertinent light.
      Then down I laid my head;
Down on cold earth; and for a while was dead,
And my freed soul to a strange somewhere fled.

      "Ah, sottish Soul!" said I,
When back to its cage again I saw it fly;
      "Fool, to resume her broken chain,
      "And row her galley here again!
      "Fool, to that body to return
"Where it condemn'd and destin'd is to burn!
      "Once dead, how can it be,
"Death should a thing so pleasant seem to thee,
"That thou shouldst come to live it o'er again in me?"

Cowley, Abraham. The Works of Mr. A. Cowley. vol 2.
Richard Hurd, ed.
London: John Sharpe, 1809.  31-2.

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