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Poem by Abraham Cowley


The Motto


Tentanda via est, etc.

What shall I do to be forever known,
And make the age to come my own?
I shall like beasts or common people die,
Unless you write my elegy;
Whilst others great by being born are grown,
Their mothers' labor, not their own.
In this scale gold, in th'other fame does lie,
The weight of that mounts this so high.
These men are fortune's jewels, molded bright,
Brought forth with their own fire and light;
If I her vulgar stone, for either look,
Out of myself it must be strook.
Yet I must on : what sound is't strikes mine ear?
Sure I Fame's trumpet hear;
It sounds like the last trumpet, for it can
Raise up the buried man.
Unpassed Alps stop me, but I'll cut through all,
And march, the Muses' Hannibal.
Hence, all the flattering vanities that lay
Nets of roses in the way;
Hence, the desire of honors or estate
And all that is not above fate;
Hence, Love himself, the tyrant of my days,
Which intercepts my coming praise.
Come, my best friends, my books, and lead me on:
'Tis time that I were gone.
Welcome, great Stagirite, and teach me now
All I was born to know;
Thy scholar's vict'ries thou dost far outdo,
He conquered th'earth, the whole world you.
Welcome, learn'd Cicero, whose blest tongue and wit
Preserve Rome's greatness yet:
Thou art the first of orators; only he
Who best can praise thee, next must be.
Welcome the Mantuan swan, Vergil the wise,
Whose verse walks highest, but not flies;
Who brought green poesy to her perfect age,
And made that art which was a rage.
Tell me, ye mighty three, what shall I do
To be like one of you?
But you have climbed the mountain's top, there sit
On the calm flour'shing head of it,
And whilst with wearied steps we upward go,
See us and clouds below. 



Abraham Cowley


Abraham Cowley's other poems:
  1. An Answer To A Copy Of Verses Sent Me To Jersey
  2. Constantia's Song
  3. Against Fruition
  4. The Usurpation
  5. Cheer Up, My Mates


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