Abraham Cowley Poems

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Abraham Cowley
Abraham Cowley (1618 - July 28, 1667), English poet, was born in the City of London late in 1618. He was one of the leading English poets of the seventeenth century with 14 printings of his Works published between 1668 and 1721. His father, a wealthy citizen, who died shortly before his birth, was a stationer. His mother was wholly given to works of devotion, but it happened that there lay in her parlor a copy of The Faerie Queene. This became the favorite reading of her son, and he had twice devoured it all before he was sent to school. As early as 1628, that is, in his tenth year, he composed his Tragicall History of Piramus and Thisbe, an epic romance written in a six-line stanza, a style of his own invention. It is not too much to say that this work is the most astonishing feat of imaginative precocity on record; it is marked by no great faults of immaturity, and possesses constructive merits of a very high order. Two years later the child wrote another and still more ambitious poem, Constantia and Philetus, being sent about the same time to Westminster School. Here he displayed the most extraordinary mental precocity and versatility, and wrote in his thirteenth year yet another poem, the Elegy on the Death of Dudley, Lord Carlton. These three poems of considerable size, and some smaller ones were collected in 1633, and published in a volume entitled Poetical Blossoms, dedicated to the head master of the school, and prefaced by many laudatory verses by schoolfellows. The author at once became famous, although he had not, even yet, completed his fifteenth year. His next composition was a pastoral comedy, entitled Love's Riddle, a marvelous production for a boy of sixteen, airy, correct and harmonious in language, and rapid in movement. The style is not without resemblance to that of Randolph, whose earliest works, however, were at that time only just printed. In 1637 Cowley was elected into Trinity College, Cambridge, where he betook himself with enthusiasm to the study of all kinds of learning, and early distinguished himself as a ripe scholar. It was about this time that he composed his scriptural epic on the history of King David, one book of which still exists in the Latin original, the rest being superseded in favour of an English version in four books, called the Davideis, which he published a long time after. This is his most grave and important work as also remarkable for suggesting Milton several points which he afterwards made use of. The epic, written in a very dreary and turgid manner, but in good rhymed heroic verse, deals with the adventures of King David from his boyhood to the smiting of Amalek by Saul, where it abruptly closes. Abraham Cowley In 1638 Love's Riddle and a Latin comedy, the Naufragium Joculare, were printed, and in 1641 the passage of Prince Charles through Cambridge gave occasion to the production of another dramatic work, The Guardian, which was acted before the royal visitor with much success. During the civil war this play was privately performed at Dublin, but it was not printed till 1650. It is bright and amusing, in the style common to the "sons" of Ben Jonson, the university wits who wrote more for the closet than the public stage.

light shining out of darkness
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the ... [read poem]
on receipt of my mother's picture
Oh that those lips had language! Life has pass'd
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.... [read poem]
night vision
By day give thanks, by night beware
Half the world in sweetness, the other in fear

W... [read poem]
to mary
The twentieth year is well nigh past,
Since first our sky was overcast;
Ah, would that thi... [read poem]
The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
And drinks, and gapes for drink again.
The plants suc... [read poem]
on the loss of the royal george
Toll for the brave--
The brave! that are no more:
All sunk beneath the wave,
Fast... [read poem]
the task: from book iv: the winter evening
Hark! 'tis the twanging horn! O'er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length... [read poem]
the task: from book vi: the winter walk at noon
Thus heav'nward all things tend. For all were once
Perfect, and all must be at length restor'd.... [read poem]
the task: from book v: the winter morning walk
'Tis morning; and the sun, with ruddy orb
Ascending, fires th' horizon: while the clouds,
... [read poem]
the retired cat
A poet's cat, sedate and grave
As poet well could wish to have,
Was much addicted to inqui... [read poem]
the task: from book ii: the time-piece

England, with all thy faults, I love thee still--
My country! and, while ... [read poem]
the task: from book i: the sofa

Thou know'st my praise of nature most sincere,
And that my raptures are not con... [read poem]
sonnet to william wilberforce, esq.
Thy country, Wilberforce, with just disdain,
Hears thee, by cruel men and impious, call'd
... [read poem]
the shrubbery
Oh happy shades--to me unblest!
Friendly to peace, but not to me!
How ill the scene th... [read poem]
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