A Collection of English Poems, 1660-1800

By Ronald S. Crane | Go to book overview

ABRAHAM COWLEY (1618-1633-1667)

To Sir William Davenant
Upon His Two First Books of Gondibert, Finished
Before His Voyage to America1

METHINKS Heroick Poesie till now
Like some fantastick Fairy Land did show,
Gods, Devils, Nymphs, Witches and Gyants race,
And all but Man in Mans chief work had place.
Thou like some worthy Knight with sacred Arms 5 Dost drive the Monsters thence, and end the Charms.
Instead of those dost Men and Manners plant,
The things which that rich Soil did chiefly want.
Yet ev'en thy Mortals do their Gods excell,
Taught by thy Muse to Fight and Love so well. 10

By fatal hands whilst present Empires fall,
Thine from the Grave past Monarchies recall.
So much more thanks from humane kind does merit
The Poets Fury, then the Zelots Spirit.
And from the Grave thou mak'est this Empire rise, 15 Not like some dreadful Ghost t'affright our Eyes,
But with more Lustre and triumphant state,
Then when it crown'd at proud Verona sate.
So will our God rebuild mans perisht frame,
And raise him up much Better, yet the same. 20 So God-like Poets do past things reherse,
Not change, but Heighten Nature by their Verse.

With shame, methinks, great Italy must see
Her Conqu'erors rais'd to Life again by Thee.
Rais'd by such pow'erful Verse, that ancient Rome25 May blush no less to see her Wit o'ercome.
Some men their Fancies like their Faith derive,
And think all Ill but that which Rome does give.
The Marks of Old and Catholick would find,
To the same Chair would Truth and Fiction bind. 30 Thou in those beaten pathes disdain'st to tred,
And scorn'st to Live by robbing of the Dead.
Since Time does all things change, thou think'st not fit

____________________
1
Published in The Preface to Gondibert, Paris, 1650. Text of Works, 1668.

-1-

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