Abraham Cowley

Bordone. Venetian Lovers. 1550s. The Brera, Milan
Bordone. Venetian Lovers.
1550s? The Brera, Milan.

from "The Mistress"


I came, I saw, and was undone;
Lightning did through my bones and marrow run;
      A pointed pain pierc'd deep my heart;
A swift cold trembling seiz'd on every part;
      My head turn'd round, nor could it bear
      The poison that was enter'd there.

      So a destroying angel's breath
Blows-in the plague, and with it hasty death;
      Such was the pain, did so begin,
To the poor wretch, when Legion enter'd in.
      "Forgive me, God!" I cry'd; for I
Flatter'd myself I was to die.

      But quickly to my cost I found,
'T was cruel Love, not Death, had made the wound;
      Death a more generous rage does use;
Quarter to all he conquers does refuse:
      Whilst Love with barbarous mercy saves
      The vanquish'd lives, to make them slaves.

      I am thy slave then; let me know,
Hard master! the great task I have to do:
      Who pride and scorn do undergo.
In tempests and rough seas thy galleys row;
      They pant, and groan, and sigh; but find
      Their sighs increase the angry wind.

      Like an Egyptian tyrant, some
Thou weariest out in building but a tomb;
      Others, with sad and tedious art,
Labour i' th' quarries of a stony heart:
      Of all the works thou dost assign
      To all the several slaves of thine,
Employ me, mighty Love! to dig the mine.

Cowley, Abraham. The Works of Mr. A. Cowley. vol 2.
Richard Hurd, ed.
London: John Sharpe, 1809.  5-6.

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