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On reading the following lines, the reader may perhaps cry out - Confusion worse confounded:
Here lies a she sun, and a he moon here,
She gives the best light to his sphere,
Or each is both, and all, and so
They unto one another nothing owe.
DONNE. Who but Donne would have thought that a good man is a telescope?
Though God be our true glass through which we see
All, since the being of all things is he;
Yet are the trunks, which do to us derive
Things in proportion fit, by perspective
Deeds of good men; for by their living here,
Virtues., indeed remote, seem to be near. Who would imagine it possible that in a very few lines so many remote ideas could be brought together?
Since 'tis my doom, Love's undershrieve,
Why this reprieve?
Why doth my she advowson fly
To sell thyself dost thou intend
By candle's end,
And hold the contrast thus in doubt,
• Life's taper out?
Think but how soon the market fails,
Your sex lives faster than the males,
And if to measure age's span, .
The sober Julian were th' account of man,
Whilst you live by the fleet Gregorian.
CLEIVELAND. Of enormous and disgusting hyperboles, these may be examples:
By every wind that comes this way,
Send me at least a sigh or two,
Such and so many I'll repay
As shall themselves make wings to get to you.
In tears I'll waste these eyes,
By Love so vainly fed;
So lust of old the Deluge punished.
All arm'd in brass, the richest dress of war,
(A dismal glorious sight!) he shone afar.
The sun himself started with sudden fright,
To see his beams return so dismal bright.
An universal consternation:
His bloody eyes he hurls round, his sharp paws
Tear up the ground: then runs he wild about,
Lashing his angry tail, and roaring out.
Beasts creep into their dens, and tremble there;
Trees, though no wind is stirring, shake with fear:
Silence ang horror fill the place around;
Echo itself dares scarce repeat the sound.
COWLEY. Their fictions were often violent and unnatural.
Of his Mistress bathing.
The fish around her crowded, as they do
To the false light that treacherous fishers shew,
And all with as much ease might taken be,
As she at first took me:
For ne'er did light so clear
Among the waves appear,
Though every night the sun himself set there.
The poetical Effect of a Lover's name upon Glass.
My name engrav'd herein
Doth contribute my firmness to this glass;
Which, ever since that charm, hath been
As hard as that which gray'd it was.
Their conceits were sentiments slight and trifling.
On an inconstant Woman.
He enjoys the calmy sunshine now,
And no breath stirring hears,
In the clear heaven of thy brow,
No smallest cloud appears.
He sees thee gentle, fair, and gay,
And trusts the faithless April of thy May.
COWLEY. Upon a Paper written with the Juice of Lemon, and read by the Fire.
Nothing yet in thee is seen,
But when a genial heat warms thee within,
A new-born wood of various lines there grows ;
Here buds an L, and there a B,
Here spouts a V, and there a T,
And all the flourishing letters stand in rows.
COWLEY. As they sought only for novelty, they did not much inquire whether their allusions were to things high or low, elegant or gross: whether they compared the little to the great, or the great to the little.
Physic and Chirurgery for a Lover.
Gently, ah gently, madam, touch
The wound, which you yourself have made ;
That pain must needs be very much,
Which makes me of your hand afraid.
Cordials of pity give me now,
For I too weak of pargings grow.
The World and a Clock.
Mahol th' inferior world's fantastic face
Through all the turns of matter's maze did trace;
Great Nature's well-set clock in pieces took;
On all the springs and smallest wheels did look
Of life and motion, and with equal art
Made up the whole again of every part.
A coal-pit has not often found its poet; but, that it may not want its due honour, Cleiveland has paralleled it with the Sun:
The moderate value of our guiltless ore
Makes no man atheist, and no woman whore;
Yet why should hallow'd vestal's sacred shrine
Deserve mord honour than a flaming mine?
These pregnant wombs of heat would fitter be,
Than a few embers, for a deity.
Had he our pits, the Persian would admiro
No sun, but warm 's devotion at our fire:
He'd leave the trotting whipster, and prefer
Our profound Vulcan 'bove that waggoner.
For wants he heat, or light? or would have store,
Or both ? 'tis here: and what can suns give more?
Nay, what's the sun, but, in a different name,
A coal-pit rampant, or a mine on flame!
Then let this truth reciprocally run,
The sun's Heaven's coalery, and coal's our sun.
.. : Death, a Voyage.
E'er rigg'd a soul for Heaven's discovery,
With whom more venturers might boldly daro
Venture their stakes, with him in joy to share.
Their thoughts and expressions were sometimes grossly absurd, and such as no figures or license can reconcile to the understanding
A Lover neither Dead nor Alive.
Then down I laid my head
Down on cold earth; and for a while was dead,
And my freed soul to a strange somewhere fled;
Ah, sottish soul, said I,
When back to its cage again I saw it fly;
Fool to resume her broken chain,
And row her galley here again!
Fool, to that body to return
Where it condemn'd and destin'd is to burn!
Onco dead, how can it be,
Death should a thing so pleasant seem to thee,
That thou should'st come to live it o'er again in me?
A Lover's Ileart, a lland Grenado.
Woe to her stubborn heart, if once mine come
Into the self-same room;
"Twill tear and blow up all within.
Like a grenado shot into a magazin.
Then shall love keep the ashes, and torn parts,
Of both our broken hearts:
Shall out of both one new one make :
From her's th' allay, from mine the metal take.
The Poetical Propagation of Light.
The prince's favour is diffus'd o'er all,
From which all fortunes, names, and natures fall;
Then from those wombs of stars, the bride's bright eyes
At every glance a constellation flies,
And sows the court with stars, and doth prevent,
In light and power, the all-eyed firmament:
First her eyo kindles other ladies' eyes,
Then from their beams their jewels' lustres rise :
And from their jewels torches do take fire,
And all is warmth, and light, and good desire.
They were in very little care to clothe their notions with elegance of dress, and therefore miss the notice and the praise which are often gained by those who think less, but are more diligent to adorn their thoughts.
That a Mistress beloved is fairer in idea than in reality, is by Cowley thus expressed:
Thou in my fancy dost much higher stand,
Than woman can be plac'd by Nature's hand:
And I must needs, I'm sure, a loser be,
To change thee as thou'rt there, for very thee. That prayer and labour should co-operate, are thus taught by Donne:
In none but us are such mix'd engines found,
As hands of double office; for the ground
We till with them; and them to Heaven we raise;
Who prayerless labours, or, without this, prays,
Doth but one half, that's none. By the same author, a common topic, the danger of procrastination, is thus illustrated:
That which I should have begun
In my youth's morning, now late must be done;
And I, as giddy travellers must do,
Which stray or sleep all day, and having lost
Light and strength, dark and tir'd, must then ride post. All that man has to do is to live and die; the sum of humanity is comprehended by Donne in the following lines:
Think in how poor a prison thou didst lie;
After enabled but to suck and cry.
Think, when 'twas grown to most, 'twas a poor inn,
A province pack'd up in two yards of skin,
And that usurp'd, or threaten'd with a rage
Of sicknesses, or their true mother, age.
But think that death hath now enfranchis'd thee;
Thou hast thy expansion now, and liberty;
Think, that a rusty piece discharg'd is flown
In pieces, and the bullet is his own,
And freely flies; this to thy soul allow,
Think thy shell broke, think thy soul hatch'd but now. They were sometimes indelicate and disgusting. Cowley thus apostrophises beauty:
Thou tyrant, which leav'st no man free! Thou subtle thief, from whom nought safe can be! Thou murtherer, which hast kill'd; and devil, which would'st damp me!