Abraham Cowley

Gerrit van Honthorst. Samson and Delilah. c1615.
Gerrit van Honthorst. Samson and Delilah.
c1615. Cleveland Museum of Art.

from "The Mistress"


Thou 'adst to my soul no title or pretence;
      I was mine own, and free,
      Till I had given myself to thee;
But thou hast kept me slave and prisoner since.
      Well, since so insolent thou 'rt grown,
Fond tyrant! I'll depose thee from thy throne;
Such outrages must not admitted be
      In an elective monarchy.

Part of my heart by gift did to thee fall;
      My country, kindred, and my best
      Acquaintance, were to share the rest;
But thou, their covetous neighbour, drav'st out all:
      Nay more; thou mak'st me worship thee,
And wouldst the rule of my religion be:
Did ever tyrant claim such power as you,
      To be both emperor and pope too?

The public miseries, and my private fate,
      Deserve some tears; but greedy thou
      (Insatiate maid!) wilt not allow
That I one drop from thee should alienate:
      Nor wilt thou grant my sins a part,
Though the sole cause of most of them thou art;
Counting my tears thy tribute and thy due,
      Since first mine eyes I gave to you.

Thou all my joys and all my hopes dost claim;
      Thou ragest like a fire in me,
      Converting all things into thee;
Nought can resist, or not encrease the flame:
      Nay, every grief and every fear
Thou dost devour, unless thy stamp it bear:
Thy presence, like the crowned basilisk's breath,
      All other serpents puts to death.

As men in hell are from diseases free,
      So from all other ills am I;
      Free from their known formality:
But all pains eminently lie in thee!
      Alas, alas! I hope in vain
My conquer'd soul from out thine hands to gain;
Since all the natives there thou 'ast overthrown,
      And planted garrisons of thine own.

Cowley, Abraham. The Works of Mr. A. Cowley. vol 2.
Richard Hurd, ed.
London: John Sharpe, 1809.  81-82.

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