Verse > Anthologies > Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. > Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th c.
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Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. (1886–1960). Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th C.  1921.
 
Abraham Cowley
 
139. Destinie
Hoc quoq; Fatale est sic ipsum expendere Fatum. Manil
 
STRANGE and unnatural! lets stay and see 
        This Pageant of a Prodigie. 
Lo, of themselves th'enlivened Chesmen move, 
Lo, the unbred, ill-organ'd Pieces prove, 
        As full of Art, and Industrie,         5
        Of Courage and of Policie, 
As we our selves who think ther's nothing Wise but We. 
        Here a proud Pawn I'admire 
        That still advancing higher 
        At top of all became  10
        Another Thing and Name. 
Here I'm amaz'ed at th'actions of a Knight, 
        That does bold wonders in the fight. 
        Here I the losing party blame 
        For those false Moves that break the Game,  15
That to their Grave the Bag, the conquered Pieces bring, 
And above all, th' ill Conduct of the Mated King. 
What e're these seem, what e're Philosophie 
        And Sense or Reason tell (said I) 
These Things have Life, Election, Libertie;  20
        'Tis their own Wisdom molds their State, 
        Their Faults and Virtues make their Fate. 
        They do, they do (said I) but strait 
Lo from my'enlightned Eyes the Mists and shadows fell 
That hinder Spirits from being Visible.  25
And, lo, I saw two Angels plaid the Mate. 
With Man, alas, no otherwise it proves, 
    An unseen Hand makes all their Moves. 
        And some are Great, and some are Small, 
Some climb to good, some from good Fortune fall,  30
        Some Wisemen, and some Fools we call, 
Figures, alas, of Speech, for Desti'ny plays us all. 
  
Me from the womb the Midwife Muse did take: 
She cut my Navel, washt me, and mine Head 
        With her own Hands she Fashioned;  35
        She did a Covenant with me make, 
And circumcis'ed my tender Soul, and thus she spake, 
        Thou of my Church shalt be, 
        Hate and renounce (said she) 
Wealth, Honor, Pleasures, all the World for Me  40
Thou neither great at Court, nor in the War, 
Nor at th' Exchange shalt be, nor at the wrangling Bar. 
Content thy self with the small Barren Praise, 
        That neglected Verse does raise. 
    She spake, and all my years to come  45
        Took their unlucky Doom. 
Their several ways of Life let others chuse, 
    Their several pleasures let them use, 
But I was born for Love, and for a Muse. 
        With Fate what boots it to contend?  50
Such I began, such am, and so must end. 
        The Star that did my Being frame, 
        Was but a Lambent Flame, 
        And some small Light it did dispence, 
        But neither Heat nor Influence.  55
No Matter, Cowley, let proud Fortune see, 
That thou canst her despise no less then she does Thee. 
        Let all her gifts the portion be 
        Of Folly, Lust, and Flattery, 
        Fraud, Extortion, Calumnie,  60
        Murder, Infidelitie, 
        Rebellion and Hypocrisie. 
    Do Thou nor grieve nor blush to be, 
    As all th'inspired tuneful Men, 
And all thy great Forefathers were from Homer down to Ben.  65
 
 
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