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About this poet

Abraham Cowley is the author of The Mistress (1647).

The Request

Abraham Cowley
I've often wish'd to love; what shall I do?
      Me still the cruel boy does spare;
      And I a double task must bear,
First to woo him, and then a mistress too.
      Come at last and strike, for shame,
If thou art any thing besides a name;
      I'll think thee else no God to be,
But poets rather Gods, who first created thee.

I ask not one in whom all beauties grow;
      Let me but love, whate'er she be,
      She cannot seem deform'd to me;
And I would have her seem to others so.
      Desire takes wings and straight does fly,
It stays not dully to inquire the Why.
      That happy thing, a lover, grown,
I shall not see with others' eyes, scarce with mine own.

If she be coy, and scorn my noble fire;
      If her chill heart I cannot move;
      Why I'll enjoy the very love,
And make a mistress of my own desire.
      Flames their most vigorous heat do hold,
And purest light, if compass'd round with cold:
      So, when sharp winter means most harm,
The springing plants are by the snow itself kept warm.

But do not touch my heart, and so be gone;
      Strike deep thy burning arrows in!
      Lukewarmness I account a sin,
As great in love as in religion.
      Come arm'd with flames; for I would prove
All the extremities of mighty Love.
      Th' excess of heat is but a fable;
We know the torrid zone is now found habitable.

Among the woods and forests thou art found,
      There boars and lions thou dost tame;
      Is not my heart a nobler game?
Let Venus, men; and beasts, Diana, wound!
      Thou dost the birds thy subjects make;
Thy nimble feathers do their wings o'ertake:
      Thou all the spring their songs dost hear;
Make me love too, I'll sing to' thee all the year!

What service can mute fishes do to thee?
      Yet against them thy dart prevails,
      Piercing the armour of their scales;
And still thy sea-born mother lives i'th' sea.
      Dost thou deny only to me
The no-great privilege of captivity?
      I beg or challenge here thy bow;
Either thy pity to me, or else thine anger, show.

Come! or I 'll teach the world to scorn that bow:
      I'll teach them thousand wholesome arts
      Both to resist and cure thy darts,
More than thy skilful Ovid e'er did know.
      Musick of sighs thou shalt not hear,
Nor drink one wretched lover's tasteful tear:
      Nay, unless soon thou woundest me,
My verses shall not only wound, but murder, thee.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Abraham Cowley

Abraham Cowley is the author of The Mistress (1647).

by this poet

poem
D'ye slight me, 'cause a bog my Belly feeds, 
And I am found among a crowd of Reeds 
I'm no green vulgar Daughter of the Earth, 
But to the noble Waters owe my birth.
I was a Goddess of no mean degree;
But Love alas! deposed my Deity. 
He bad me love, and straight my kindled heart 
In Hercules's triumphs bore a
poem
It gave a piteous groan, and so it broke;
      In vain it something would have spoke:
      The love within too strong for 't was,
Like poison put into a Venice-glass.

I thought that this some remedy might prove;
      But oh, the mighty serpent Love,
      Cut by this chance in pieces small,
In all still liv'
poem
Some think your commendation you deserve,
'Cause you of old Augustus did preserve.
Why did you still prolong that fatal breath, 
That banish'd Ovid, and was Tully's death? 
But I suppose that neither of 'em you, 
Nor Orator nor Poet ever knew; 
Wherefore I wonder not, you shou'd comply, 
And