Abraham Cowley

The Thief              

Thou robb'st my days of business and delights,
   Of sleep thou robb'st my nights ;
   Ah, lovely thief, what wilt thou do?
   What?  rob me of heaven too?
   Even in my prayers thou hauntest me:
   And I, with wild idolatry,
Begin to God, and end them all to thee.

Is it a sin to love, that it should thus
   Like an ill conscience torture us?
   Whate'er I do, where'er I go—
   None guiltless e'er was haunted so!—
   Still, still, methinks, thy face I view,
   And still thy shape does me pursue,
As if, not you me, but I had murdered you.

From books I strive some remedy to take,
   But thy name all the letters make;
   Whate'er 'tis writ, I find thee there,
   Like points and commas everywhere.
   Me blessed for this let no man hold,
   For I, as Midas did of old,
Perish by turning every thing to gold.

What do I seek, alas, or why do I
   Attempt in vain from thee to fly?
   For, making thee my deity,
   I gave thee then ubiquity.
   My pains resemble hell in this:
   The divine presence there too is,
But to torment men, not to give them bliss.

Elizabethan and Seventeenth-Century Lyrics.
Matthew W. Black, Ed.
Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Company, 1938.  362-363.

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on May 25, 2004. Last updated January 4, 2007.