Abraham Cowley

Hymn :  to light        

FIRST born of Chaos, who so fair didst come
        From the old Negro's darksome womb !  
        Which when it saw the lovely Child,
The melancholly Mass put on kind looks and smil'd.

Thou Tide of Glory which no Rest dost know, 5
        But ever Ebb, and ever Flow !  
        Thou Golden shower of a true Jove !  
Who does in thee descend, and Heav'n to Earth make Love !  

Hail active Natures watchful Life and Health !  
        Her Joy, her Ornament, and Wealth !   10
        Hail to thy Husband Heat, and Thee !  
Thou the worlds beauteous Bride, the lusty Bridegroom He !  

Say from what Golden Quivers of the Sky,
        Do all thy winged Arrows fly ?  
        Swiftness and Power by Birth are thine :   15
From thy Great Sire they came, thy Sire the word Divine.

'Tis, I believe, this Archery to show,
        That so much cost in Colours thou,
        And skill in Painting dost bestow,
Upon thy ancient Arms, the Gawdy Heav'nly Bow. 20

Swift as light Thoughts their empty Carriere run,
        Thy Race is finisht, when begun,
        Let a Post-Angel start with Thee,
And Thou the Goal of Earth shalt reach as soon as He :  

Thou in the Moons bright Chariot proud and gay, 25
        Dost thy bright wood of Stars survay ;  
        And all the year dost with thee bring
Of thousand flowry Lights thine own Nocturnal Spring.

Thou Scythian-like dost round thy Lands above
        The Suns gilt Tent for ever move, 30
        And still as thou in pomp dost go
The shining Pageants of the World attend thy show.

Nor amidst all these Triumphs dost thou scorn
        The humble Glow-worms to adorn,
        And with those living spangles gild, 35
(O Greatness without Pride !) the Bushes of the Field.

Night, and her ugly Subjects thou dost fright,
        And sleep, the lazy Owl of Night ;  
        Asham'd and fearful to appear
They screen their horrid shapes with the black Hemisphere. 40

With 'em there hastes, and wildly takes the Alarm,
        Of painted Dreams, a busie swarm,
        At the first opening of thine eye,
The various Clusters break, the antick Atomes fly.

The guilty Serpents, and obscener Beasts 45
        Creep conscious to their secret rests :  
        Nature to thee does reverence pay ;  
Ill Omens, and ill Sights removes out of thy way.

At thy appearance, Grief it self is said,
        To shake his Wings, and rowse his Head. 50
        And cloudy care has often took
A gentle beamy Smile reflected from thy Look.

At thy appearance, Fear it self grows bold ;  
        Thy Sun-shine melts away his Cold.
        Encourag'd at the sight of Thee, 55
To the cheek Colour comes, and firmness to the knee.

Even Lust the Master of a hardned Face,
        Blushes if thou beest in the place,
        To darkness' Curtains he retires,
In Sympathizing Night he rolls his smoaky Fires. 60

When, Goddess, thou liftst up thy wakened Head,
        Out of the Mornings purple bed,
        Thy Quire of Birds about thee play,
And all the joyful world salutes the rising day.

The Ghosts, and Monster Spirits, that did presume 65
        A Bodies Priv'lege to assume,
        Vanish again invisibly,
And Bodies gain agen their visibility.

All the Worlds bravery that delights our Eyes
        Is but thy sev'ral Liveries, 70
        Thou the Rich Dye on them bestowest,
Thy nimble Pencil Paints this Landskape as thou go'st.

A Crimson Garment in the Rose thou wear'st ;  
        A Crown of studded Gold thou bear'st,
        The Virgin Lillies in their White, 75
Are clad but with the Lawn of almost Naked Light.

The Violet, springs little Infant, stands,
        Girt in thy purple Swadling-bands :  
        On the fair Tulip thou dost dote ;  
Thou cloath'st it in a gay and party-colour'd Coat. 80

With Flame condenst thou dost the Jewels fix,
        And solid Colours in it mix :  
        Flora her self envyes to see
Flowers fairer than her own, and durable as she.

Ah, Goddess !  would thou could'st thy hand withhold, 85
        And be less Liberall to Gold ;  
        Didst thou less value to it give,
Of how much care (alas) might'st thou poor Man relieve !  

To me the Sun is more delighful far,
        And all fair Dayes much fairer are. 90
        But few, ah wondrous few there be,
Who do not Gold prefer, O Goddess, ev'n to Thee.

Through the soft wayes of Heaven, and Air, and Sea,
        Which open all their Pores to Thee ;  
        Like a cleer River thou dost glide, 95
And with thy Living Stream through the close Channels slide.

But where firm Bodies thy free course oppose,
        Gently thy source the Land o'erflowes ;  
        Takes there possession, and does make,
Of Colours mingled, Light, a thick and standing Lake. 100

But the vast Ocean of unbounded Day
        In th' Empyrĉan Heaven does stay.
        Thy Rivers, Lakes, and Springs below
From thence took first their Rise, thither at last must Flow.


The Oxford Book of Seventeenth Century Verse.
H. J. C. Grierson and G. Bullough, Eds. 
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934.  710-711.

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