Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A VOTE, by ABRAHAM COWLEY



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A VOTE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Lest the misconst'ring world should chance to say
Last Line: Or in clouds hide them; I have lived to-day.
Variant Title(s): A Wish;of Myself
Subject(s): Courts & Courtiers; Gardens & Gardening; Law & Lawyers; Nature; Teaching & Teachers; Royal Court Life; Royalty; Kings; Queens; Attorneys; Educators; Professors


Lest the misconst'ring world should chance to say,
I durst not but in secret murmurs pray,
To whisper in Jove's eare,
How much I wish that funerall,
Or gape at such a great one's fall,
This let all ages heare,
And future tymes in my soule's picture see
What I abhorre, what I desire to bee.
I would not be a Puritane, though he
Can preach two houres, and yet his sermon bee
But halfe a quarter long;
Though from his old mechanicke trade
By vision hee's a pastor made,
His faith was growne so strong.
Nay though he thinke to gayne salvation,
By calling th' Pope the whore of Babylon.
I would not be a schoolemaster, though hee
His rods no lesse than Fasces deemes to bee,
Though hee in many a place,
Turnes Lilly oftner that his gownes;
Till at the last hee makes the nownes,
Fight with the verbes apace.
Nay though hee can in a Poeticke heate,
Figures, borne since, out of poore Virgill beate.
I would not bee a Justice of Peace, though hee
Can with equality divide the fee,
And stakes with his Clarke draw:
Nay though hee sit upon the place,
Of Judgement with a learned face
Intricate as the Law.
And whil'st hee mulcts enormities demurely,
Breaks Priscian's head with sentences securely.
I would not bee a Courtier, though hee
Makes his whole life the cruelst Comedy:
Although hee bee a man
In whome the Tayler's forming Art,
And nimbler Barber clayme more part
Then Nature herselfe can
Though, as hee uses men, 'tis his intent
To put off death too, with a complement.
From Lawyers' tongs, though they can spin with ease
The shortest cause into a Paraphrase,
From userers' conscience
(For swallowing up young heyres so fast,
Without all doubt they'le choakt at last)
Make me all innocence
Good Heaven; and from thy eyes, O Justice keepe,
Though they bee not blind, they're oft asleepe.
From Singing-men's Religion; who are
Alwayes at Church just like the Crowes, 'cause there
They build themselves a nest.
From too much Poetry, which shines
With gold in nothing but it's lines,
Free, O you powers, my brest.
And from astrology within the skyes
Finds fish, and bulls, yet doth but Tantalize.
From your Court Madam's beauty, which doth carry
At morning May, at night a January.
From the grave city brow
(For though it want an R, it has
The letter of Pythagoras)
Keepe me O fortune now
And chines of beefe innumerable send mee,
Or from the stomacke of the Guard defend me.
This only grant me, that my means may lie
Too low for envy, for contempt too high.
Some honour I would have,
Not from great deeds, but good alone;
The unknown are better than ill known:
Rumor can ope the grave.
Acquaintance I would have, but when 't depends
Not on the number, but the choice, of friends.
Books should, not business, entertain the light,
And sleepe, as undisturbed as death, the night.
My house a cottage more
Than pallace; and should fitting bee
For all my use, no luxury.
My garden painted o'er
With Nature's hand, not arts and pleasures yield:
Horace might envy in his Sabine field.
Thus would I double my life's fading space;
For hee that runs it well twice runs his race.
And in this true delight,
These unbought sports, this happy state,
I would not feare, nor wish, my fate;
But boldly say each night,
To-morrow let my sun his beams display
Or in clouds hide them; I have lived to-day.




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