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POEMS

ABRAHAM COWLEY.

CONSTANTIA AND PHILETUS.

1

SING two constant lovers' various fate, The hopes and fears that equally attend Their loves; their rivals' envy, parents' hate: I sing their woeful life and tragic end.

Aid me, ye gods, this story to rehearse,
This mournful tale, and favour every verse!
In Florence, for her stately buildings fam'd,
And lofty roofs that emulate the sky,
There dwelt a lovely maid, Constantia named,
Fam'd for the beauty of all Italy.

Her, lavish Nature did at first adorn
With Pallas' soul in Cytherea's form:

OF

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Her wit, excelling praise, even all admire;
Her speech was so attractive, it might be
A cause to raise the mighty Pallas' ire,
And stir up envy from that deity.

The maiden lilies at her sight

Wax'd pale with envy, and from thence grew She was in birth and parentage as high As in her fortune great or beauty rare; And to her virtuous mind's nobility The gifts of Fate and Nature doubled were ; That in her spotless soul and lovely face You might have seen each deity and grace. The scornful boy, Adonis, viewing her, Would Venus still despise, yet her desire; Each who but saw, was a competitor And rival, scorch'd alike with Cupid's fire.

white.

The glorious beams of her fair eyes did move, And light beholders on their way to love. Among her many suitors, a young knight, 'Bove others wounded with the majesty Of her fair presence, presseth most in sight; Yet seldom his desire can satisfy

With that blest object, or her rareness see;
For Beauty's guard is watchful Jealousy.
Oft times, that he might see his dearest fair,
Upon his stately jennet he in th' way
Rides by her house; who neighs, as if he were
Proud to be view'd by bright Constantia.

But his poor master, though to see her move
His joy, dares show no look betraying love.
Soon as the Morning left her rosy bed,
And all Heaven's smaller lights were driven away,
She, by her friends and near acquaintance led,
Like other maids, would walk at break of day:
Aurora blush'd to see a sight unknown,

To behold cheeks more beauteous than her own.

Th' obsequious lover follows still her train,
And where they go, that way his journey feigns:
Should they turn back, he would turn back again;
For with his love, his business does remain.

Nor is it strange he should be loth to part
From her, whose eyes had stole away his heart.
Philetus he was call'd, sprung from a race
Of noble ancestors; but greedy Time
And envious Fate had laboured to deface
The glory which in his great stock did shine:
Small his estate, unfitting her degree;

But blinded Love could no such difference see.

Yet he by chance had hit his heart aright,
And dipt his arrow in Constantia's eyes,
Blowing a fire that would destroy him quite,
Unless such flames within her heart should rise.
But yet he fears, because he blinded is,
Though he have shot him right, her heart he'll
miss.

Unto Love's altar therefore he repairs, And offers up a pleasing sacrifice; Entreating Cupid, with inducing prayers, To look upon and case his miseries:

Where having wept, recovering breath again,
Thus to immortal Love he did complain:

" Oh, mighty Cupid! whose unbounded sway
Hath often rul'd th' Olympian thunderer;
Whom all cœlestial deities obey;
Whom men and gods both reverence and fear!
Oh force Constantia's heart to yield to love!
Of all thy works the master-piece 'twill prove.
"And let me not affection vainly spend,
But kindle flames in her like those in me;
Yet if that gift my fortune doth transcend,
Grant that her charming beauty I may see!

For ever view those eyes, whose charming light,
More than the world besides, does please my
sight.

"Those who contemn thy sacred deity,
Laugh at thy power, make them thine anger
know:

I faultless am; what honour can it be,
Only to wound your slave and spare your foe?"
Here tears and sighs speak his imperfect moan,
In language far more moving than his own.

Home he retir'd, his soul he brought not home;
Just like a ship, while every mounting wave,
Toss'd by enraged Boreas up and down,
Threatens the mariner with a gaping grave;

Such did his case, such did his state appear,
Alike distracted between hope and fear.

Thinking her love he never shall obtain,
One morn he haunts the woods, and doth com-

plain

Of his unhappy fate, but all in vain ;

d thus fond Echo answers him again :
It mov'd Aurora, and she wept to hear,
Dewing the verdant grass with many a tear.

THE ECHO.

"On! what hath caus'd my killing miseries?"
"EYES," Echo said. "What hath detained my
"ease?"

"EASE," straight the reasonable nymph replies.
"That nothing can my troubled mind appease?"
"PEACE," Echo answers. "What, is any nigh?”
Philetus said. She quickly utters, "I."
"Is't Echo answers? tell me then thy will:"
"I WILL," she said. "What shall I get," says he,
"By loving still?" To which she answers, "ILL.”
"II! Shall I void of wish'd-for pleasures die?"

"I." "Shall not I, who toil in ceaseless pain,
"Some pleasure know?" "No," she replies

No morning-banish'd darkness, nor black night
By her alternate course expell'd the day,
In which Philetus by a constant rite
At Cupid's altars did not weep and pray;
And yet he nothing reap'd for all his pain,
But care and sorrow was his only gain.
But now at last the pitying god, o'ercome
By constant votes and tears, fix'd in her heart
A golden shaft, and she is now become
A suppliant to Love, that with like dart

He'd wound Philetus; does with tears implore Aid from that power, she so much scorn'd before.

Little she thinks she kept Philetus' heart
In her scorch'd breast, because her own she gave
To him. Since either suffers equal smart,
And a like measure in their torments have:

His soul, his griefs, his fires, now her's are grown:
Her heart, her mind, her love, is his alone.

Whilst thoughts 'gainst thoughts rise up in mu-
tiny,

She took a lute (being far from any ears)
And tun'd this song, posing that harmony
Which poets attribute to heavenly spheres.

Thus had she sung when her dear love was slain,
She'd surely call'd him back from Styx again.

THE SONG.

To whom shall I my sorrows show?
Not to Love, for he is blind:
And my Philetus doth not know

The inward torment of my mind.
And all these senseless walls, which are
Now round about me, cannot hear;

For, if they could, they sure would weep,
And with my griefs relent:

Unless their willing tears they keep,

Till I from Earth am sent.
Then I believe they 'll all deplore
My fate, since I taught them before,
I willingly would weep my store,

If th' flood would land thy love,
My dear Philetus, on the shore

Of my heart; but, should'st thou prove
Afraid of flames, know the fires are
But bonfires for thy coming there.
THEN tears in envy of her speech did flow
From her fair eyes, as if it seem'd that there
Her burning flame had melted hills of snow,
And so dissolv'd them into many a tear;

Which, Nilus-like, did quickly overflow,
And quickly caus'd new serpent griefs to grow.

again.

"False and inconstant nymph, thou lyest!" said Here stay, my Muse; for if I should recite
he;
Her mournful language, I should make you weep
"THOU LYEST," she said; "And I deserv'd her hate, Like her, a flood, and so not see to write
If I should thee believe." "BELIEVE," saith she. Such lines as I, and th' age requires, to keep
"For why? thy idle words are of no weight."
"WEIGHT," she answers. "Therefore I'll depart."
To which resounding Echo answers, "PART."
THEN from the woods with wounded heart he goes,
Filling with legions of fresh thoughts his mind.
He quarrels with himself, because his woes
Spring from himself, yet can no med'cine find:

Me from stern Death, or with victorious rhyme
Revenge their master's death, and conquer
Time.

He weeps to quench the fires that burn in him,
But tears do fall to th' earth, flames are within,

By this time, chance and his own industry
Had help'd Philetus forward, that he grew
Acquainted with her brother, so that he
Might, by this means, his bright Constantia view;
And, as time serv'd, show her his misery:
This was the first act in his tragedy.

Thus to himself, sooth'd by his flattering state,
He said; "How shall I thank thee for this gain,
O Cupid! or reward my helping Fate,
Which sweetens all my sorrows, all my pain?

What husbandman would any pains refuse,
To reap at last such fruit, his labour's use?"
But, when he wisely weigh'd his doubtful state,
Seeing his griefs link'd like an endless chain
To following woes, he would when 'twas too late
Quench his hot flames, and idle love disdain.

But Cupid, when his heart was set on fire, Had burnt his wings, who could not then retire. The wounded youth and kind Philocrates (So was her brother call'd) grew soon so dear, So true and constant in their amities,

And in that league so strictly joined were,

That death itself could not their friendship sever, But, as they liv'd in love, they died together.

If one be melancholy, th' other's sad;
If one be sick, the other's surely ill;
And if Philetus any sorrow had,
Philocrates was partner in it still:

Pylades' soul, and mad Orestes', was
In these, if we believe Pythagoras.

Oft in the woods Philetus walks, and there Exclaims against his fate, fate too unkind: With speaking tears his griefs he doth declare, And with sad sighs instructs the angry wind

To sigh, and did ev'n upon that prevail;
It groan'd to hear Philetus' mournful tale.
The crystal brooks, which gently run between
The shadowing trees, and, as they through them pass,
Water the earth, and keep the meadows green,
Giving a colour to the verdant grass,

Hearing Philetus tell his woeful state,
In show of grief run murmuring at his fate.
Philomel answers him again, and shows,
In her best language, her sad history,
And in a mournful sweetness tells her woes,
Denying to be pos'd in misery:

Constantia he, she Tereus, Tereus, cries; With him both grief, and grief's expression, vies. Philocrates must needs his sadness know, Willing in ills, as well as joys, to share, Nor will on them the name of friends bestow, Who in light sport, not sorrow, partners are. Who leaves to guide the ship when storms arise, Is guilty both of sin and cowardice.

But when his noble friend perceiv'd that he
Yielded to tyrant Passion more and more,
Desirous to partake his malady,
He watches him, in hope to cure his sore

By counsel, and recall the poisonous dart,
When it, alas! was fixed in his heart.
When in the woods, places best fit for care,
He to himself did his past griefs recite,
Th'obsequious friend straight follows him, and there
Doth hide himself from sad Philetus' sight;

Who thus exclaims (for a swoln heart would break,
If it for vent of sorrow might not speak):
«Oh! I am lost, not in this desert wood,
But in Love's pathless labyrinth; there I
My health, each joy and pleasure counted good,
Have lost, and, which is more, my liberty;

And now am forc'd to let him sacrifice
My heart, for rash believing of my eyes.

"Long have I staid, but yet have no relief;
Long have I lov'd, yet have no favour shown;
Because she knows not of my killing grief,
And I have fear'd to make my sorrows known.
For why? alas! if she should once but dart
Disdainful looks, 'twould break my captiv'd heart
"But how should she, cre I impart my love,
Reward my ardent flame with like desire?
But when I speak, if she should angry prove,
Laugh at my flowing tears, and scorn my fire?
Why, he who hath all sorrows borne before,
Needeth not fear to be opprest with more."
Philocrates no longer can forbear,

Runs to his friend, and sighing, "Oh !" said he,
"My dear Philetus! be thyself, and swear
To rule that passion which now masters thee,
And all thy reason; but, if it can't be,
Give to thy love but eyes, that it may see."
Amazement strikes him dumb; what shall he do?
Should he reveal his love, he fears 'twould prove
A hindrance; and, should he deny to shew,
It might perhaps his dear friend's anger move:
These doubts, like Scylla and Charybdis, stand,
Whilst Cupid, a blind pilot, doth command.
At last resolv'd: "How shall I seek," said he,
"T" excuse myself, dearest Philocrates!
That I from thee have hid this secrecy?
Yet censure not; give me first leave to ease [known
My case with words: my grief you should have
Ere this, if that my heart had been my own.
"I am all love; my heart was burnt with fire
From two bright suns, which do all light disclose;
First kindling in my breast the flame desire:
But, like the rare Arabian bird, there rose,

From my heart's ashes, never quenched Love,
Which now this torment in my soul doth move.
"Oh! let not then my passion cause your hate
Nor let my choice offend you, or detain
Your ancient friendship; 'tis, alas! too late
To call my firm affection back again :

No physic can re-cure my weaken'd state, The wound is grown too great, too desperate." "But counsel," said his friend, " a remedy Which never fails the patient, may at least, If not quite heal your mind's infirmity, Assuage your torment, and procure some rest. But there is no physician can apply A med'cine ere he know the malady." "Then hear me," said Philetus; "but why? Stay I will not toil thee with my history; For to remember sorrows past away, Is to renew an old calamity.

He who acquainteth others with his moan, Adds to his friend's grief, but not cures his own,” "But," said Philocrates, "tis best, in woe, To have a faithful partner of their care; That burthen may be undergone by two, Which is perhaps too great for one to bear.

I should mistrust your love, to hide from me
Your thoughts, and tax you of inconstancy."
What shall he do? or with what language frame
Excuse? He must resolve not to deny,
But open his close thoughts and inward flame:
With that, as prologue to his tragedy,

He sigh'd, as if they'd cool his torments' ire,
When they, alas! did blow the raging fire.

"When years first styl'd me twenty, I began
To sport with catching snares that Love had set:
Like birds that flutter round the gin till ta'en,
Or the poor fly caught in Arachne's net,

Even so I sported with her beauty's light, Till I at last grew blind with too much sight. "First it came stealing on me, whilst I thought "Twas easy to repel it; but as fire, Though but a spark, soon into flames is brought, So mine grew great, and quickly mounted higher; Which so have scorch'd my love-struck soul,

that 1

Still live in torment, yet each minute die."
"Who is it," said Philocrates, "can move
With charming eyes such deep affection?
I may perhaps assist you in your love;
Two can effect more than yourself alone.

My counsel this thy errour may reclaim,
Or my salt tears quench thy destructive flame."
"Nay," said Philetus, "oft my eyes do flow
Like Nilus, when it scorns th' opposed shore;
Yet all the watery plenty I bestow,
Is to my flame an oil that feeds it more.

So fame reports o' th' Dodonéan spring,
That lightens all those which are put therein.
"But, being you desire to know her, she
Is call'd" (with that his eyes let fall a shower,
As if they fain would drown the memory
Of his life-keeper's name) "Constantia-" More
Grief would not let him utter; tears, the best
Expressers of true sorrow, spoke the rest.
To which his noble friend did thus reply:
"And was this all? Whate'er your grief would ease,
Though a far greater task, believe't, for thee
It should be soon done by Philocrates:

Think all your wish perform'd; but see, the day,
Tir'd with its heat, is hasting now away!"

But, if beyond those limits you demand,
I must not answer, sir, nor understand."
"Believe me, virtuous maiden! my desire
Is chaste and pious as thy virgin thought;
No flash of lust, 'tis no dishonest fire,
Which goes as soon as it was quickly brought;
But as thy beauty pure; which let not be
Eclipsed by disdain and cruelty !"

"Oh! how shall I reply?" she cry'd, "thou 'st
My soul, and therefore take thy victory: [won
Thy eyes and speeches have my heart o'ercome,
And if I should deny thee love, then I

Home from the silent woods Night bids them go:
But sad Philetus can no comfort find;
What in the day he fears of future woe,
At night in dreams, like truth, affrights his mind.
Why dost thou vex him, Love? Could'st thou but
The would'st thyself Philetus' rival be. [see,
Philocrates, pitying his doleful moan,
And wounded with the sorrows of his friend,
Brings him to fair Constantia ; where alone
He might impart his love, and either end

His fruitless hopes, nipt by her coy disdain, Or, by her liking, his wisht joys attain. "Fairest," said he, “whom the bright Heavens do

Should be a tyrant to myself: that fire

Which is kept close burns with the greatest ire.
"Yet do not count my yielding lightness, now;
Impute it rather to my ardent love;
Thy pleasing carriage won me long ago,
And pleading Beauty did myliking move; [might
Thy eyes, which draw like loadstones with their
The hardest hearts, won mine to leave me
quite."

cover,

Do not these tears, these speaking tears, despise!
These heaving sighs of a submissive lover,
Thus struck to th' earth by your all-dazzling eyes!

And do not you contemn that ardent flame,
Which from yourself, your own fair beauty, came!
"Trust me, I long have hid my love; but now
Am fore'd to show't, such is my inward smart!
And you alone, fair saint! the means do know
To heal the wound of my consuming heart.

Then, since it only in your power doth lie
To kill or save, Oh! help, or else I die."
His gently cruel love did thus reply;
"I for your pain am grieved, and would do,
Without impeachment of my chastity
And honour, any thing might pleasure you.

"Oh! I am rapt above the reach," said he, "Of thought; my soul already feels the bliss [thee Of Heaven: when, sweet, my thoughts once tax but With any crime, may I lose all happiness

Is wish'd for: both your favour here, and dead, May the just gods pour vengeance on my head!" Whilst he was speaking this (behold their fate!) Constantia's father enter'd in the room, When glad Philetus, ignorant of his state, Kisses her cheeks, more red than setting Sun, Or else the Morn, blushing through clouds of water, To see ascending Sol congratulate her.

Just as the guilty prisoner fearful stands,
Reading his fatal Theta in the brows
Of him who both his life and death commands,
Ere from his mouth be the sad sentence knows :
Such was his state to see her father come,
Nor wish'd-for, nor expected, in the room.
Th' enrag'd old man bids him no more to dare
Such bold intrusion in that house, nor be
At any time with his lov'd daughter there,
Till he had given him such authority:

But to depart, since she her love did show him,
Was living death, with lingering torments, to him,

This being known to kind Philocrates,
He chears his friend, bidding him banish fear,
And by some letter his griev'd mind appease,
And show her that which to her friendly ear

Time gave no leave to tell: and thus his quil
Declares to her the absent lover's will.

THE LETTER.

PHILETUS TO CONSTANTIA.

I TRUST, dear Soul, my absence cannot move You to forget or doubt my ardent love: For, were there any means to see you, I Would run through death, and all the misery Fate could inflict; that so the world might say, In life and death I lov'd Constantia. Then let not, dearest sweet, our absence part Our loves, but each breast keep the other's heart; Give warmth to one another, till there rise From all our labours and our industries

The long-expected fruits: have patience, sweet! There's no man whom the summer pleasures greet

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Before he taste the winter; none can say,
Ere night was gone, he saw the rising day.

So, when we once have wasted Sorrow's night,
The Sun of Comfort then shall give us light.

PHILETUS.

his, when Constantia read, she thought her state Most happy, by Philetus' constancy And perfect love: she thanks her flattering fate, Kisses the paper, till with kissing she

The welcome characters doth dull and stain : Then thus with ink and tears writes back again.

CONSTANTIA TO PHILETUS.

YOUR absence, sir, though it be long, yet
Neither forget nor doubt your constancy.
Nor need you fear that I should yield unto
Another, what to your true love is due.
My heart is yours; it is not in my claim,
Nor have I power to take it back again.
There's nought but death can part our souls; no
time,

Or angry friends, shall make my love decline:
But for the harvest of our hopes I'll stay,
Unless Death cut it, ere 'tis ripe, away.
CONSTANTIA.

Oh! how this letter seem'd to raise his pride!
Prouder was he of this than Phaton,
When he did Phoebus' flaming chariot guide,
Unknowing of the danger was to come:

Prouder than Jason, when from Colchos he
Returned with the fleece's victory.

But ere the autumn, which fair Ceres crown'd,
Had paid the sweating plowman's greediest prayer,
And by the fall disrobed the gaudy ground
Of all those ornaments it us'd to wear;

Them kind Philocrates t' each other brought, Where they this means t' enjoy their freedom wrought.

"Sweet fair-one," said Philetus, since the time
Favours our wish, and does afford us leave
T enjoy our loves; oh, let us not resign
This long'd-for favour, nor ourselves bereave

Of what we wish'd for, opportunity,
That may too soon the wings of Love out-fly!
"For when your father, as his custom is,
For pleasure doth pursue the timorous hare,
If you 'll resort but thither, I'll not miss
To be in those woods ready for you, where

We may depart in safety, and no more
With dreams of pleasure only, heal our sore."

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Comfort's Sun we then shall see,
Though at first it darken'd be
With dangers; yet, those clouds but gone,
Our Day will put his lustre on.
Then, though Death's sad night appear,
And we in lonely silence rest;
Our ravish'd souls no more shall fear,
But with lasting day be blest.

And then no friends can part us more, Nor no new death extend its power; Thus there's nothing can dissever Hearts which Love hath join'd together. FEAR of being seen, Philetus homeward drove, But ere they part she willingly doth give (As faithful pledges of her constant love) Many a soft kiss; then they each other leave, Rapt up with secret joy that they have found A way to heal the torment of their wound. But, ere the Sun through many days had run, Constantia's charming beauty had o'ercome Guisardo's heart, and scorn'd affection won; Her eyes soon conquer'd all they shone upon, Shot through his wounded heart such hot de sire,

As nothing but her love could quench the fire. In roofs which gold and Parian stone adorn (Proud as the owner's mind) he did abound; In fields so fertile for their yearly corn,

As might contend with scorch'd Calabria's ground;

But in his soul, that should contain the store
Of surest riches, he was base and poor.

Him was Constantia urg'd continually,

By her friends, to love: sometimes they did en

treat

With gentle speeches and mild courtesy ;
Which when they see despis'd by her, they

threat.

But love too deep was seated in her heart,
To be worn-out by thought of any smart.
Soon did her father to the woods repair,
To seek for sport, and hunt the started game;
Guisardo and Philocrates were there,
With many friends too tedious here to name:

With them Constantia went, but not to find
The bear or wolf, but Love, all mild and
kind.

Being enter'd in the pathless woods, while they
Pursue their game, Philetus, who was late
Hid in a thicket, carries straight away
His love, and hastens his own hasty fate;

That came too soon upon him; and his sun
Was quite eclips'd before it fully shone.
Constantia miss'd, the hunters in amaze
Take each a several course, and by curst Fate
Guisardo runs, with a love-carried pace,
Tow'rds them, who little knew their woeful state
Philetus, like bold Icarus, soaring high
To honours, found the depth of misery.
For when Guisardo sees his rival there,
Swelling with envious rage, he comes behind
Philetus, who such fortune did not fear,
And with his sword a way to's heart does find.

But, ere his spirits were possest of death,
In these few words he spent his latest breath:

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