Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PINDARIC ODE: DESTINIE [DESTINY], by ABRAHAM COWLEY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

PINDARIC ODE: DESTINIE [DESTINY], by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Strange and unnatural! Lets stay and see
Last Line: And all thy great forefathers were, from homer down to ben.
Subject(s): Angels; Chess; Poetry & Poets


STrange and unnatural! Let's stay and see
This Pageant of a Prodigy.
Lo, of themselves th' enlivened Chesmen move,
Lo, the unbred, ill-organ'd Pieces prove
As full of Art and Industry,
Of Courage and of Policy,
As we our selves, who think there's nothing Wise but we.
Here a proud Pawn I' admire,
That still advancing higher
At Top of all became
Another Thing and Name.
Here I'm amaz'd 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,
That to their Grave, the Bag, the conquer'd Pieces bring;
And above all, th' ill Conduct of the mated King.


Whate'er these seem, whate'er Philosophy
And Sense or Reason tell, (said I)
These things have Life, Election, Liberty;
'Tis their own Wisdom moulds 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.
And lo, I saw two Angels play'd 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,
Some wise Men, and some Fools we call,
Figures, alas, of Speech, for Destiny plays us all.


Me from the Womb the Midwife Muse did take:
She cut my Navel, wash'd me, and mine Head
With her own Hands she fashioned;
She did a Cov'nant with me make,
And circumcis'd my tender Soul, and thus she spake;
Thou of my Church shalt be;
Hate and renounce (said she)
Wealth, Honour, Pleasure, all the World for me.
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
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?
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.
No matter, Cowley, let proud Fortune see
That thou canst her despise no less than she does thee.
Let all her Gifts the Portion be
Of Folly, Lust, and Flattery,
Fraud, Extortion, Calumny,
Murder, Infidelity,
Rebellion and Hypocrisie;
Do thou not grieve nor blush to be
As all th' inspir'd Tuneful Men,
And all thy great Forefathers were, from Homer down to Ben.

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